Artemis Racing is moving camp from Spain to San Francisco ahead of next month's America's Cup World Series event, becoming the second team to set up base permanently in the host city of the 34th America's Cup.
Skipper Terry Hutchinson says his team is filtering into town over the next couple of weeks and could be sailing on the Bay as early as August 6th.
"I'm looking forward to it more than anything," he says with enthusiasm, when asked about the move. "The fact that we're going to the venue and that we're going to spend the next year living in the venue, training in the venue, learning about the Bay, to me it's a really good opportunity."
Artemis Racing concluded a successful opening season at the AC World Series last month, winning the overall Match Racing Championship. The first racing in San Francisco, from August 21-26, marks the opening event in the 2012-13 season, and for the first time, Artemis Racing will have two crews in the competition. (Hutchinson said the team's crew lists will be released closer to the event).
"We are going to enter two teams in San Francisco. The more I've seen other teams rotate (people) at the last few events, the more I'm convinced the approach we took last year with our crew rotation policy was the right one for the bigger picture," Hutchinson said, referring to how the team consistently changed crew line-ups in an effort to get more team members experience on the AC45 catamarans.
"Now this is another way for us to expedite the sailing team's development. What we would have done with just five people on the boat, we're now able to do with 10 people and we'll just get better that much faster."
Looking ahead to August's racing, Hutchinson says he expects big breeze and challenging conditions - typical San Francisco Bay weather, in other words.
"Sailing the AC45s in an ebb tide on the Bay is going to be something else," he says. We've all researched extensively the boundaries of how hard to push and I think it's going to create a lot of good action. As we know with everyone out there racing, we'll all be pushing hard, so I think somebody is going to have one (capsize). The Bay has a short, sharp wave set, so I suspect we'll be pushing that much harder. I don't think anyone is going to be holding back.
"Personally, I'm looking forward to the opportunity to do that. We're learning the thresholds of what we can do in these boats, so the focus from our perspective is to push hard in the racing so that when we step on the AC72s we're more comfortable about the boundaries and how hard we can push these boats."
The AC72s are another challenge altogether. Artemis Racing was the first team to unveil an AC72 wing and began testing it on a trimaran platform, while waiting for their AC72 catamaran to be completed. As the first team to begin sailing with the big wing, they also were the first team to suffer a setback, when the wing was damaged during a training session in May. But the team adjusted its schedule, with the earlier move to San Francisco as one of the outcomes.
"The situation with our wing presented a different opportunity and so the next six weeks or so is all about venue development and learning as much as we can about sailing on San Francisco Bay during the same time we'll be racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup next year. So to me that's the new opportunity presented by the situation with the wing. I think this is very good use of our time and we're going to have our hands full…
"The guys in Valencia have done good work in getting the boat to us on schedule and they're going through it and doing as much testing as they can to the structure of the boat in Spain. We'll get the boat packed up and shipped to San Francisco and assemble the wing and everything out there, hopefully pretty soon...
"Without question this America's Cup is different than anything we've experienced in the past. The way the game is being played right now in the AC45s is going to be different in the 72s. Is San Francisco the best place to launch and develop the speed of a 72? Possibly not. But by developing our boat in the confines of the venue, we're going to gain experience and when the other teams show up next year they'll have to adapt to it when hopefully we'll be hitting our stride."