The first day of racing in the 2012 ACWS sees three teams out of the match racing. Matthew Sheahan reports from San Francisco
On the 161st anniversary of the America’s Cup the 2012/13 AC World Series got under way in San Francisco with some new age match racing. But unlike most match racing series, the session skipped the Round Robin phase and got straight into the business of eliminating teams.
In a quick fire round of best of three races the bottom four teams from last season fought to stay in the game. Each two lap race was designed to last just 13 minutes. Get it wrong and a total of twenty six minutes of racing could be all it took to eliminate a team from the match racing element of the San Francisco series. As with the previous ACWS events there is a fleet racing series that runs in parallel, but no one has come here to be excluded from anything that quickly, so the pressure was on from the start. Little surprise then that at the close of play, BAR skipper Ben Ainslie described the day’s racing as, ‘simply a blur.’
Artemis Red and Ben Ainslie Racing were not in existence last season, so both had plenty to prove in a short space of time. Ainslie was successful, winning both of his matches despite starting on the back foot on each occasion and trailing Olympic Gold medallist Nathan Outterdge, Team Korea’s skipper. The combination of Ainslie’s pace downwind and some classic match racing at the windward mark demonstrated once again that while he is clearly the newcomer to this circuit, he’s not keen on being behind.
In the two other matches today, both finished 2:0 as Luna Rossa Swordfish despatched China Team and Luna Rossa Piranha saw off Artemis Red.
Tomorrow, Thursday sees a combination of match racing and fleet racing which will be streamed live online via YouTube as well as on TV in certain locations. See below.
Elsewhere the chat has been about how many more casualties there may be during the week. Conditions were a touch lighter today than yesterday and with the tide turning later the sea state was flatter and less precarious than it has been over the last few days. Nevertheless, at the morning meeting today race director Iain Murray pointed out that the record so far for capsizes was in Plymouth where eight teams took a ducking. Here in San Francisco five have been for a swim before the racing had even started.
Clearly none of the teams nor the organisers want to see capsizes on the race course, especially given that both of the event’s spare masts are already in use. But try telling that to the thousands of spectators that are already turning up and lining the shores from early in the morning.
Racing on Thursday through Sunday (2:00 pm PDT start time from Thursday through Saturday and at 11:30 am PDT on Sunday) will be broadcast live around the world on the America’s Cup YouTube channel (subject to territorial broadcast restrictions).
On television, coverage is available Thursday through Saturday throughout the Bay Area on NBC Bay Area 11.2, and in California on Comcast Sportsnet California.
The Sunday finale will be broadcast live, coast to coast in the United States, on NBC from 11:30 am PDT.