The 11 skippers leading crews at ACWS San Francisco this week were introduced to the public this evening at a ceremony on the main stage of the ACWS Race Village at Marina Green.
This afternoon the fleet took to San Francisco Bay for a practice session in winds between 17 and 20 knots. The action was exhilarating for JR Hildebrand, 24, a San Francisco native and IndyCar driver who spent the day as guest racer with ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL.
“It was awesome. It’s such a cool thing to be a part of,” said Hildebrand, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. “You don’t have to be going 200 mph to feel like you’re hauling ass. It was very cool. It’s a like-relationship, racing cars and racing boats. Everything’s very sensitive. How these guys work together to get right up against the other boats is really impressive. It gives me a lot of appreciation for what these guys do.”
In other practice action, Emirates Team New Zealand and China Team each capsized. Five crews now have capsized since practice began.
See photos from today’s practice here.
Here’s what the skippers had to say at this morning’s media briefing:
Ben Ainslie, J.P. Morgan BAR
On managing the AC45 on the racecourse: “It’s going to be exciting. It’ll be slightly chaotic on the start line in 20 knots with 11 boats; I’m sure we’re going to see some amazing spectacles. I’m going to have to back off because the big thing is to avoid any damage. These boats are relatively delicate so if you start wiping out the likelihood is you’re going to break something. So yeah, I’ll need to back off a bit and be prepared to give up a few spots here and there and take care of the kit.”
Dean Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand
“San Francisco Bay has definitely been an eye opener for us. It gets pretty fresh at the end of the day. It’s been very good for us to come here and see what it’s like sailing catamarans on the Bay. Sailing these boats in 20 knots of breeze is challenging and demanding. We’re working hard to catch up to where we’ve been in the past.”
Russell Coutts, ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS
On the predicted flood tide changing tactics: “Wind shifts will still be important upwind and downwind. Quite often there’s more wind on the outside of the racecourse, particularly at the bottom end. So there might be some advantage to stay out of the current down there. But the difference in performance in a multihull in a little more wind is hugely significant, it completely overturns the advantage of slightly less current. Judging the approach to marks is going to be challenging as well. If you get that wrong and have to do extra tacks or jibes it’ll be expensive, but I’m looking forward to it.”
Yann Guichard, Energy Team
On being back on the helm after coaching: “It’s a good thing to be able to steer the boat and sometimes to be able to watch the others because everybody has their own style. It’s really important to watch them for learning what you can or cannot do onboard. But there is nothing better than training on the water, especially here in the Bay, which is a challenging venue with tricky conditions. After a good training session last week I’m very pleased to be back and quite confident, but there are 11 boats on the start line so the risk management is essential because a capsize can happen suddenly.”
Terry Hutchinson, Artemis Racing White
“We have the same crew as the previous regatta in Newport. We have a new J3, the heavy-air jib; no surprise there. We’ve been developing some Code 0s and trying to figure out which one to use. Striking a balance between a fast sail and one that’s easy to handle is a big deal. Do you want a fast sail in a straight line? Or do you want a sail that might not go as fast, but is easier to handle, because that’s an equally important part of the race.”
John Kostecki, ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL
On what he’s looking forward to this week: “I’m looking forward to showcasing the America’s Cup World Series to people here in the Bay area. I think it’ll be pretty cool going to Marina Green and watching the racing. It’s a unique racecourse because we’ll be racing parallel to the shoreline. I think it’s going to be exciting. With the addition of few more teams for this event, I think there’s going to be a lot of close situations and possibly some more capsizing like we saw last week and some collisions as well.”
Santiago Lange, Artemis Racing Red
On racing the AC45 compared to the Tornado catamaran: “The main thing is the different style of racing. Compared to the Olympic Games this is more like a medal race, short courses and a lot of boats. But it’s very similar. From the point of view of stability or digging the bow, I think the AC45 is safer than a Tornado. But it’s a lot harder because there are 5 people on board and it’s very physical for the crew. Altogether it is a lot harder, and the communication and short courses make it a lot harder.”
Nathan Outteridge, Team Korea
“It’ll be interesting on the start line with 11 boats in 20 knots of breeze. These boats are difficult to sail, but when you have a lot of boats near you and you can’t steer where you want to steer, that’s when it gets nerve-wracking. If you steer to the wrong position you capsize, and if there’s a boat in your way, there’s going to be capsizes.”
Phil Robertson, China Team
On returning to the ACWS: “We’re extremely happy to be back racing the ACWS. There couldn’t be a better place to be sailing than San Francisco Bay. The wind is fantastic and the boats are extremely exciting to sail in that much pressure; they’re a handful. You can’t relax until you step off the boat and put it away for the night. You’ve got to be focused 100 percent, and that’s hard to do when you’ve just finished a long, tiring race and you’ve got 15 minutes to recover and you’ve got to be on your toes still. That’s the hardest thing about it.”
Max Sirena, Luna Rossa Swordfish
On the strong winds expected this week: “We’ve never sailed so much in such strong wind. The only day was one in Naples when we had 25-30 knots. It’s going to be tough because the AC45 is a really powerful boat and with the wing you can’t depower it that much. The main problem is more the waves, especially when you get tide against wind. It’s easy to make a mistake. The problem with these boats is they aren’t forgiving when you make a mistake. So we need to pay attention to that and stay focused.”
Jimmy Spithill, ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL
On racing in front of the home crowd: “It’s huge. We had the final event of the last AC World Series in Newport, and I reckon one of the key things to winning there was the support we got in Newport. It was overwhelming; everyone behind us cheering and waving the team flags and really getting behind us. That just lifts the guys. Now that we’re back in our hometown in the Bay, we’d like to kick off this World Series the way we finished the last one. I really want to see everyone coming down here and getting into it.”
Wednesday’s racing schedule features No. 6-seed Team Korea vs. No. 11 J.P. Morgan BAR, No. 7 Luna Rossa – Piranha vs. No. 10 Artemis Racing Red and No. 8 Luna Rossa – Swordfish vs. No. 9 China Team. Each match is a best-of-three.
Racing continues Thursday with two pairs of the match racing quarterfinals and the first two fleet races. View the racing lineup at ACWS San Francisco Regatta Format and additional event information at the ACWS San Francisco event page.