San Diego saved the best for last, testing the international America’s Cup World Series fleet with the strongest winds of the week, with gusts approaching 20 knots on Sunday afternoon, making for great racing conditions.
The teams didn’t disappoint the fans gathered on Broadway and Navy Piers – the race was full of intrigue, with plenty of lead changes on the race course, and lots of near misses and thrills and spills from start to finish
As training got underway in San Diego, the French challenger Energy Team revealed the new design look for its AC45.
A new logo is featured on the hull and along the black wing sail, and looks like it has been branded on with a hot iron. This logo symbolises the DIFFERENCE, that is part of the DNA of Energy Team. A strong, dynamic expression, which matches a new type of sailing, which is faster, more innovative and impressive, resulting from the wing and bow coming together.
We are looking at what is a very modern colour, which really stands out using the current codes, ensuring maximum visibility and improved recognition.
The AC World Series – Naples opened in spectacular fashion on Wednesday as strong winds and big waves created thrilling racing conditions. The AC45 catamarans, powered by their powerful wing sails, were leaping out of the water, launched into the air by the heavy sea state.
“It's cool, the sailing is pretty awesome, you can't complain when you're sailing in conditions like that,” said Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Dean Barker, who sits at the top of the leaderboard after two fleet races. “But it's very challenging for the boats and very taxing for the crew. The goal was to get back to the dock in one piece, which we did - it’s nice to be back in good shape."
The first championship races in 2012 in the America’s Cup World Series are scheduled to begin in just under three weeks, on April 11, on the waters off Naples, Italy.
As the crews make their final preparations, ORACLE Racing skipper Jimmy Spithill, who has previously raced for the Italian Luna Rossa team from 2004-2007, says he thinks the Italian fans will be blown away by the new-look America’s Cup – with short course racing in exciting and fast wing-sailed catamarans, all within shouting distance of the crowds on the shoreline.
Consistency was the key for the French Energy Team who won the third of three races on Wednesday afternoon to top the table at the end of the seeding races for the San Diego Match Racing Championships at the America’s Cup World Series.
New skipper Yann Guichard posted three race finishes inside the top five to end the day one point clear of Emirates Team New Zealand. ORACLE Racing Spithill, plagued by penalties and starting trouble all day, recovered strongly in each race to hold on to third place.
Ideal racing conditions returned to San Diego on Sunday, with 6-10 knot westerlies and bright sunny skies. Crowds poured into the America’s Cup Village to watch the racing which at time brought the boats just a few yards from the viewing points along Broadway and Navy Piers.
Emirates Team New Zealand may have been the last crew to arrive in town on Friday and skipper Dean Barker had never sailed in San Diego ahead of Saturday’s first race. But his team didn’t miss a beat, winning the Port Cities Challenge on this opening preliminary weekend of the America’s Cup World Series.
Sunny and warm again today here in SD, with moderate winds expected this afternoon to allow for another good training session.
I spoke with Harold Bennett, Assistant Race Officer and Director of On-Water Operations this morning as he was running through his checklists ahead of Friday's practise racing.
Bennett says he's been blown away by the cooperation his team has received from all the local officials who have jurisdiction over the Bay, including the US Navy, the Coast Guard, the Port, the Police and the Fire Department.