Racing on the Bay presents a stern challenge for teams 

click to enlarge Building blocks: Crews work on getting the facilities ready for this week’s America’s Cup World Series, which kicks off with racing on Wednesday and runs through Sunday. - MIKE KOOZMIN/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • mike koozmin/special to the s.f. examiner
  • Building blocks: Crews work on getting the facilities ready for this week’s America’s Cup World Series, which kicks off with racing on Wednesday and runs through Sunday.

 

 

 

After more than a year and a half of planning, politics and lawsuits, San Francisco will have its first chance to see 

After more than a year and a half of planning, politics and lawsuits, San Francisco will have its first chance to see

the world’s premier sailors as the America’s Cup World Series makes its first appearance in The City starting Wednesday.

 

Though the new facilities being built specifically for the event’s first appearance will not be done in time for the preliminary races, and the teams will not be using the same boats they’ll use in the big race in 2013, participants are already excited to face a new challenge sailing on San Francisco Bay.

"I think it’s hard to beat a venue for sailing, you don’t get much better than San Francisco," said Jimmy Spithill, skipper for the defending champion Oracle Team USA. "You’ve got some iconic landmarks with Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge. But the best part is that it’s a very challenging place to sail. There’s a lot of wind, a lot of current and there’s a lot going on out there, so as an athlete, you’re really pushed and challenged."

America’s Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray said the choppy waters have already provided some challenges for the teams.

"The race course will certainly be more intense than we’ve seen before," he said. "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."

This week’s races will be "a combination of practice and championship racing" according to the event’s official website,
www.americascup.com.

The 161-year-old event — named for the vessel that won the first race, off the south coast of England — has been run in San Diego three times in the late 1980s and early ’90s, but this is its first trip north. The site is chosen by the winner of each event, usually with a three- to four-year gap between races.

Emirates Team New Zealand, which won the America’s Cup in 1995 and 2000, will look to upset Oracle, and Spithill said that history may be Emirates’ biggest asset.

"I think Team New Zealand will be very strong," he said. "They have over a decade of experience of being a team together. Even longer for some of them. There’s no shortcut to spending that amount of time together as a group."

The races will run in between Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, and spectators can watch from a variety of locations along The City’s northern waterfront, including the home base of Marina Green.

The top five teams from the preliminary rounds will have the day off Wednesday as the other six teams compete in head-to-head matchups, needing two wins to advance.

 

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