New format for America's Cup World Series
The first 2012 event of the America’s Cup World Series takes place in Naples, Italy next month and today the regatta format has been released. The program is a mix of race formats, ensuring the sailors are tested across their full skill range. Match racing, fleet racing and speed trials against the clock will push the best sailors in the world as they match wits against each other in the challenging AC45 wing-sailed catamaran.
“We’ve made a few tweaks to the format since the AC World Series events last year,” said Regatta Director Iain Murray. “We’ve consulted with the teams and been able to take the lessons learned from those first three events and apply them going forward. I think we have a strong program now; each race in the Championship events is meaningful for the title races, but every team will now be racing each day, which is also important.”
The opening weekend is an opportunity for the teams to hone their skills ahead of the Championship racing later in the week. The program in Naples begins on Saturday, 7 April, with a full afternoon of match racing. The pairings are determined from the finishing order in the previous AC World Series Fleet Race Championship. Then, on the first Sunday, the teams sail three, 15-minute fleet races.
Following two lay days, the Championship part of the regatta begins on Wednesday April 11, with seeding races for Saturday’s Match Racing Championship. Between Wednesday and Saturday, the teams will compete in 11 fleet races, including one 40-minute contest, to determine the top four finishers, who will advance to the Match Racing semi finals and finals (first to win two points).
The ultimate day of the event, Sunday April 15, opens with the AC500 Speed Trial, where each team takes two timed runs down a 500-meter race track. (Speed Trials will also be held on Friday). The crew recording the best time is crowned the winner. Then, it’s immediately on to the winner-takes-all Fleet Race Championship, a single 40-minute fleet race to determine the champion. Here, there is simply no margin for error.
All of the Championship racing, from Wednesday April 11 through Sunday April 15 will be broadcast live on YouTube.
While Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Racing Spithill shared most of the prizes from the first three events in 2011, they can expect more challenges in 2012. Not only are there established teams like Artemis Racing (SWE) knocking on the door, but new talent is joining the fleet in Naples. Luna Rossa Challenge will be racing in the AC World Series for the first time, and they’ll make their debut in front of a home crowd. The Italian team may be joining late, but will campaign two AC45s in the remaining World Series events, as they prepare for the America’s Cup in 2013.
“It’s exciting to see a team with the stature of Luna Rossa Challenge join the AC World Series,” Murray said. “Already in the last event we saw the competitive level of the fleet growing, with the two French teams and Team Korea emerging to challenge the top guns. In Naples, with Luna Rossa competing in front of their home fans, the racing is only going to get closer, and harder.”