America's Cup World Series resumes today

Competition getting closer, warns James Spithill

Wednesday November 16th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: United States

Racing resumes in the America’s Cup World Series this afternoon on San Diego Bay. The racing promises to be close; the competition has narrowed up since the last regatta in Plymouth while for fans the race course will bring the cutting-edge AC45 wing-sailed catamarans within yards of the spectator viewing area on San Diego's Broadway Pier.

“I think it will be a great show for all of the people watching,” said Oracle Racing skipper James Spithill. “It will be a great show for the people watching. The people of San Diego know the Cup well, but this will be a re-education for them about the Cup. They're used to watching boats being towed out, and that's it. Now the start is right off the USS Midway. The racing will be exciting. Anyone of the teams can win here."

Today is the opening day of the San Diego Match Racing Championship with three seeding fleet races scheduled, along with the AC500 Speed Trials. The fleet race results will be used to seed the teams into match racing pairs for qualifying and semi final matches on Thursday and Friday, ahead of Saturday’s Finals. On Sunday, the teams compete in more speed trials, as well as the San Diego Fleet Racing Championship – a single winner-takes-all fleet race.

“We want to continue to sail consistently," acknowledged Terry Hutchinson, skipper of Artemis Racing. “The race course here deals you some tricky, shifty conditions. So you really need to sail consistently. Our boat speed [during last weekend’s practice racing] hasn’t been great. We’ve worked hard on sail combinations, but the biggest thing we’re working on is ourselves. No excuses, we’ll look in the mirror to continue to get better."

Pierre Pennec, skipper on Aleph said: "I’m here to learn and to get the best result with the team. It’s easy to enjoy these boats and this racing and I’m smiling all day. Bertrand [Pacé] is a very good coach… he looks at the computer [does the hard work and analysis] and I am free to go sailing with a smile."

Charlie Ogletree, skipper of China Team added: "Since we’ve been in San Diego we’ve been flat out. Since Plymouth we haven’t been on similar boats [to the AC45]. We did a promotional event in China, and it’s a big challenge to raise awareness of the Cup. The Chinese are very excited about sailing. It’s a growing sport, and it’s our job to educate and get them behind the America’s Cup."

Dean Barker, the Emirates Team New Zealand helm, added: " It’s great to come to San Diego. I’ve never sailed here before. It has a rich tradition in the Cup. For New Zealand the memories of 1995, seeing the team win the America’s Cup and take it back to Auckland, it’s very special. Racing right here in front of the city has its share of challenges but I’m sure it’s going to be a great event."

James Spithill, Oracle Racing Spithill said: "This is a beautiful harbour, right in the downtown. We spent most of our time sailing outside, offshore [for training in the build-up to the last America’s Cup], but we've spent a bit of time in the harbour."

Yann Guichard, helmsman on Energy Team for this regatta: "I haven’t spent a lot of time training yet, so I’m still getting to know the boat and the team better. I feel more comfortable. I can now concentrate on tactics and strategy so it’s better. And we have a new sail and our speed is much better. We’re working on communication on board and I’m happy with how it’s going."

Vasco Zbogar, helmsman on Green Comm Racing said: "Since Plymouth [where the team was involved in multiple collisions on the final day of racing] we have been repairing the boat. It could have been much worse. It was repaired quite well but we haven’t done much training. Now we’re sailing as much as possible - we have a lot of room to improve and hopefully we can get some good results."

Chris Draper, skipper of Team Korea added: "We haven’t had much chance to sail on the AC45, but we did a very good project with our Korean sailors, sailed in a regatta in Korea. In San Diego we’ve been working hard to make up the ground and make sure we’re not at too much of a disadvantage compared with the teams that have been doing some training."

Darren Bundock, the newbie helm on Oracle Racing Coutts added: "I’ve just come into the role, been lucky that Russell [Coutts] has given me the opportunity. My role is to push Jimmy as hard as I can. I’m here to give him a hurry-up and keep him honest, and I would love to take his spot [as skipper of Oracle Racing’s America’s Cup challenge]."

Racing starts each afternoon with a warning signal at 1305 PST. For the rest of the event, the YouTube channel will have live and on-demand streaming coverage of all racing. And for the first time, there will also be live streaming to iOS mobile devices through the America’s Cup YouTube channel.

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