With a new team, more boats and more sailors, the second season of the America's Cup World series will begin on Wednesday, Aug. 22, in San Francisco. The newest team is J.P. Morgan BAR, skippered by Ben Ainslie, who recently won his fifth Olympic gold medal. How will he measure up compared to the skippers who competed in the ACWS 2011-12? Will his undying confidence be enough to overcome Oracle Team USA's golden boy, James Spithill?
A total of 11 boats representing eight different teams have arrived in San Francisco, and the tricky conditions in the Bay have already brought capsizes during training (photos).
"With a new team, more boats and more sailors, ACWS San Francisco should be an outstanding regatta," said America's Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray. "The racecourse will certainly be more intense than we've seen before, and the consistent strong winds and current-driven chop will keep the competitors on their toes. We've already seen a few capsizes in training, but we know everyone will be on their game when the starting gun fires."
The eight teams that will be competing are Artemis Racing (SWE), China Team (CHN), Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Energy Team (FRA), J.P. Morgan BAR (GBR), Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 (ITA), ORACLE TEAM USA (USA), and Team Korea (KOR).
The first day of the new season will see six of the teams contesting in a series of match racing qualifiers with the three winners advancing to the Quarterfinal Round, scheduled Thursday and Friday. There, they will come head-to-head with the top five seeds based on the standings from the 2011-12 ACWS Match Racing Championship.
"As a kid growing up I really wanted to be part of the Olympics and do well at that and also to be a part of an America's Cup team that could win," said Ainslie. "This is the next stage in my career, and I'm really excited to be a part of the Cup."
"We were certainly happy to win last season, but that's done and dusted," said Hutchinson. "Racing on San Francisco Bay might be the most challenging of all the venues we've visited."
Wednesday's racing will feature the bottom six seeds in best-of-three races, and Thursday will feature two pairs of the match racing quarterfinals and the first two fleet races. Check out additional event information at the ACWS San Francisco event page.