Conditions for the opening days of the America’s Cup World Series – Plymouth are forecast to be at the upper limit for racing
When the action starts on Saturday afternoon. Winds are forecast between 20-30 knots, which may push the race crews out of their comfort zone on the wing-sailed, AC45 catamarans.
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.
All racing will be broadcast live at www.youtube.com/americascup.
Quotes from the skippers:
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 criticize, 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.”