Saturday 27 August 2011

America's Cup : Countdown to America’s Cup World Series San Diego

San Diego layout. Image copyright ACEA.

by Stephanie Martin

In under three months’ time, the America’s Cup World Series will land in San Diego for the U.S. debut of the new look America’s Cup racing. A new professional global circuit, the AC World Series features the sport’s best athletes competing on some of the most physically demanding boats in the world - the AC45 wing-sailed catamarans.

Adding a new and exciting chapter to its storied history with America’s Cup, San Diego is renown as one of the best sailing venues in the world. But come this November, San Diego will see a very different America’s Cup experience, with racing held just feet offshore, live inside San Diego Harbor in front of thousands of spectators. As one of the real birthplaces of extreme sports, San Diego is an ideal host for the next generation America’s Cup, with boats that really embrace the extreme.

“We spent 16 months in San Diego preparing for the last America's Cup, so we know that the harbor is a perfect stadium for the new-look high-speed, high-energy America's Cup,” said James Spithill, Skipper of ORACLE Racing. “We thought it was pretty cool just sailing our wing-sailed multihull back in 2009, but this time there will be a whole fleet sailed by teams from around the world. I can promise you this: people in San Diego will have a new appreciation for America's Cup sailing."

The AC World Series San Diego event will take place inside San Diego Bay, with numerous waterfront viewing locations that will allow spectators to see the on-the-water action up close. In addition to a full race schedule, the series stop will feature the all-ages AC Village at Harbor Drive which encompasses activities on Broadway Pier and the U.S.S. Midway with spectator grandstands, interactive displays, concession booths and a nightly entertainment schedule, while the stylish AC Experience at Harbor Island will provide a more lavish setting for patrons.

“Our city’s long and storied history with the Cup makes San Diego Bay an ideal location to help transform America’s Cup racing in to a new era,“ said Chuck Nichols, chairman of Sailing Events Association San Diego. “With its natural stadium environment, we are able to host multiple venues along San Diego Bay for fans to view this new form of high-adrenaline racing and, most importantly, celebrate the America’s Cup sporting experience in an intimate way never before experienced in the U.S.”

Fans will be greeted by new boats, new formats and a whole new level of racing. Sailing the AC45, the athletes will tested through both fleet and match races that put a premium on physical and mental strength. The highlight of the event is winner-takes-all, fleet race on Sunday November 20, where the teams will compete for the title of AC World Series San Diego Champion, as well as the chance to put points on the board for an overall 2011-12 AC World Series win. Another fan showcase – the AC 500 Speed Trial, where teams push their boats to the limit to cover a 500-meter straight-line course in the shortest time.

"San Diego Bay has a proven track record as a perfect venue for this type of action-packed sailing," said Lou Smith, Vice Chairman of the Board of Port Commissioners. "The port supports the America's Cup World Series as part of its goal to 'activate' the waterfront around San Diego Bay, providing economic benefit to port tenant businesses and enjoyment to spectators."

Broadcast to expose millions more fans to the sport of high-performance sailing, the AC World Series is a regular circuit of regattas that will bring America’s Cup-level racing and experience to top international venues. The AC World Series champion will be crowned during the final circuit stop in Newport, RI, in 2012. The AC World Series events provide the fans the only opportunity to see all of the America’s Cup competitors racing together.

“This exciting event will provide the city with a healthy economic jolt and also serve as a great advertisement for San Diego,” said San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders. “Media from all over the globe will broadcast images of San Diego’s spectacular scenery to viewers as far away as China and New Zealand.”

The AC World Series is sailed in the AC45, the forerunner to the next generation of America’s Cup boats. Focused on creating more on-the-water excitement for both the teams and the fans, the AC45 wing-sailed catamaran was designed for both speed and close racing. While capable of closing speeds of over 35 mph, the AC45 remains nimble enough to handle the tight, tactical race courses planned by America’s Cup Race Management. The new format of the America’s Cup also includes a strong commitment to restoring and preserving the world’s oceans through a partnership with Sailors for the Sea and other organizations at each series stop.

“With the breakneck speed of the boats and the athleticism needed onboard, the new look America’s Cup will be attracting a whole new audience, one that is younger and loves action sports and extreme thrills,” said Tom Huston, Chief Operating Officer, America’s Cup Event Authority. “San Diego will provide a world-class experience for AC World Series competitors and fans alike. We look forward to celebrating this AC World Series event with thousands of spectators in San Diego, and help write a new exciting chapter in San Diego’s long history with the America’s Cup.”

America's Cup - San Diego