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30 knot gusts forecast

America's Cup World Series racing in Plymouth to start tomorrow

Friday September 9th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: United Kingdom

Conditions for the opening days of the America’s Cup World Series – Plymouth are forecast to be at the upper limit for racing, promising thrills and spills when the action starts on Saturday afternoon. Winds are forecast to be gust up towards 30 knots, which may push the race crews out of their comfort zone on their wing-sailed AC45 catamarans.

Racing is to take place over the next nine days with the same schedule as Cascais:

Saturday 10 September: 1400 - Fleet Races 1, 2 and 3, followed by time trials

Sunday 11 September: 1500 - single fleet race

Monday-Tuesday 12-13 September: Laydays

Wednesday-Friday 14-16 September: Match Race championship qualifiers with each day three fleet races, these seeding the match races - so the sixth placed finisher races the fifth, the fourth is up against the third and the daily fleet racing winner races the second placed boat.

Saturday 17 September: This is the only day of pure match racing with - from the aggregrated results from the previous three days - quarter final 1 seeing the third and sixth placed finishers line-up and the fourth and fifth in quarter final 2. In the semis the winner of quarter final 1 races the second placed finisher from the previous three days while the winner of the previous three days races winner of quarter final 2. The winners of these two matches move on to the final, which is a first to two points. 

Sunday 18 September: The big one. A longer distance single fleet race lasting 40 minutes.

The forecast at present is extremely brisk until Wednesday with the wind due to pick up again for the final weekend.

On Friday morning, the nine skippers faced the media in the opening press conference, where the intensity of the racing was a frequent topic of conversation. The America’s Cup World Series in Plymouth will put many of the world’s best sailors together on short, challenging race courses designed to provoke close-action, near the shore. Spectators will be able to see all of the competition from the elevated vantage point of the Plymouth Hoe.

“I think if we get some good breeze it will make for some pretty exciting racing,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker. “It's demanding on the guys and the excitement factor goes up quickly towards the top end (of the wind range)... On these boats, you go pretty quickly from racing to survival and I'm sure if we get the strong winds there will be plenty of good action.”

Racing is scheduled to start on Saturday, September 10, in the Plymouth AC Preliminaries at 1410 local time (GMT+1) with three fleet races in the program as well as the Plymouth AC500 Speed Trial. Sunday has one longer fleet race. Following two off days, racing resumes on Wednesday through Sunday September 18.

The America’s Cup World Series brings the focus of the sailing world to Plymouth for nine days. The Leader of the Plymouth Council, Councillor Vivien Pengelly, said: “We are delighted to be hosting such a fabulous event and the whole city is buzzing with excitement. For the city, the economic benefits of hosting the World Series could run into millions at a time when our businesses will welcome the boost.”

The AC45 skippers commented on lies in store for them:

James Spithill, Oracle Racing Spithill: “The exciting thing about these boats downwind is that there are a lot of passing lanes and you have to sail very well when you're in the lead. It's very difficult… It's tough out there. But the great thing is that we're seeing passing and in the past we haven't seen anything like the amount of passing we're seeing already.”

Terry Hutchinson, Artemis Racing, trying not to be too critical of his overworked crew in short-course racing: "It's a whipping. I'm a bit of a spectator in the manoeuvres, and it's easy to criticise, but you bite your tongue a few times, because you know everyone's working at their limits. All four of our guys hit the red line on their heart rates in training yesterday. To sustain that for 15 minutes will be hard. It should make it more action packed though. One mistake is going to cost you."

Bertrand Pacé, Aleph, on the ‘new’ America’s Cup: “It's a new way to sail. It's a new America's Cup, a new event. It's very good for the sport and I'm happy to be a part of this game. I'm 50 and I'm discovering a new boat and a new to sail. It's very exciting.”

Charlie Ogletree, China Team, talking about his promotion to skipper with Andreas Hagara brought in as helmsman: "Like any professional sports team, the management is always looking for the right combination of athletes to achieve their goals. Taking away the pressure of being skipper leaves Andreas clear to steer the boat and I take over some of the skipper roles as the tactician."

Dean Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand, predicting some 'snakes and ladders' racing: "We're sailing close to the shore, in puffy conditions, which will be challenging, so there are going to be big changes. There are big gains and losses around the race course. It makes it pretty tough. You try and do what you can, and you try and make the most of every situation but I'm sure there will be a few that go against us as well."

Loick Peyron, Energy Team, on the secret to success: “If you sail fast, you feel a lot more intelligent. But everything happens very quickly; the boats are fast, the courses are short so it happens very quickly, both the mistakes and the good things. Sometimes it is a surprise to be well placed. Sometimes you are just happy to be there, but you didn't choose to be there… You need to be fast, right, intelligent and lucky!”

Vasilij Zbogar, Green Comm Racing, on his capsize earlier in the week: "When we capsized suddenly I just saw all the sandwiches floating in the water. We were surrounded by sandwiches! Now we've capsized we can check that off the list. Yesterday we went sailing and we were much more confident, but still we need to be very careful with these boats in more than 20 knots. We go to the limit all the time…"

Chris Draper, Team Korea, daunted by how short the course will be inside Plymouth Sound: "I know that our new crew member who joined us was not that impressed! It's pretty short, full-on, the lads are going to be breathing hard. With three or four races, it will be a lot on. Good fun, but hard work."

Russell Coutts, skipper, Oracle Racing Coutts, looking to avoid a repeat of being beaten by underdogs like Team Korea who knocked them out of the match racing in Cascais: "To say we were disappointed to lose to these guys is an understatement, but the fact is we didn't sail well enough to win. You can be beaten by any of these teams especially if you don't sail up to your best abilities. A very experienced America's Cup sailor once told me it's better to have a good finish than a good start, and they had the better finish on the day."

See the full press conference here:


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