San Diego Gears Up for the Cup
San Diego Gears Up for the Cup
With the America's Cup World Series coming to San Diego later this month, racers and organizers fill us in on some changes afoot.
Meanwhile, the defender Oracle Racing (USA) has been training and testing two of their four AC45s in San Francisco over the past three weeks. The team plans to be in San Diego by November 6 to do some additional training. “We’ve been working on stuff related to the 72, so getting to San Diego earlier will give us a bit more time to prepare,” says Oracle trimmer Joey Newton. “The last few regattas, we felt we left it a bit short and didn’t have enough time to get organized and practice enough beforehand.”
Oracle also has a couple of new guys on board, including Australians Darren Bundock, who will be replacing Russell Coutts as skipper, and 2010 World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby calling tacics. “We have a lot of practice to do against them and are looking forward to having someone new to race against,” says Newton.
The World Series allows teams to measure in just two jibs pre regatta, and for the previous events most teams measured in their smaller jibs. Newton thinks that, with the lighter breeze in San Diego, most teams will measure in their biggest jibs. “We’ve done a bit of work on our gennakers," he says. "We’ve had all the sails sitting there to be used for the lighter air stuff but haven’t had much opportunity to use them. We’ll do a bit of testing when we get there and try to put our best foot forward, but it’s pretty difficult when you’re only allowed to use two jibs and get the right one up all the time.”
With only have one jib on board and the other on the chase boat, and races turning around in about six minutes, that’s right on the limit for a quick change, says Newton. “You can change a jib, but you don’t want everything to go wrong to end up with no jib up.”
Newton and Hutchinson agree that the AC45s are a physical challenge, especially for the three guys in front. “It’s a lot harder than anything I’ve done before,” says Newton, a former match racer.
Light or not, San Diego will prove to be just as hard as Cascais and Plymouth. “In many ways, sailing in 12 knots is about as hard physically as you can do," says Newton. "It’s easier sailing in 20-25 knots, because you’re using smaller sails. The maximum jib loads on these boats is probably at about 8 knots, and then it starts going down from there as you start using smaller sails. Racing in 12 will be every bit as hard or harder than sailing in 25. And the helmsmen tend to turn them around a lot more in light air than they do when it’s windy. It’ll be plenty hard.”
Take Iain Percy, the longtime British Olympic sailor, who joined Artemis Racing in Plymouth for his first shot on the 45. According to Murray, Percy got off his first ride on the 45 and said, "That's the hardest race I've ever done in my life." After 20 or 30 minutes of racing, Percy checked in with an average heart rate of 185, which, according to his trainer, is 97-pecent of his maximum heart rate tested over the last 10 years. “It’s is a staggering statistic to the physicality of sailing these boats, and I think that’s fantastic," says Murray.
After spending the last year figuring out how to pull it off, Murray wears a big smile heading into the San Diego event. “To get it on in Cascais and make it work was a huge relief," he says. "We perfected it more in Plymouth with boundaries on the course that push the boats back into the middle, which adds to the sailing of these boats and provides the opportunities for crews to get on top of managing these boats around the racecourse. It’s a whole new thing that we’ve made happen."