SF to be center of sailing world as America's Cup hits the Bay 

San Franciscans eager for next summer’s America’s Cup will get a taste of what’s to come when sailing’s new regatta circuit glides into town this week.

Click on the photo to the right to see an image of where the America's Cup race will be held in San Francisco Bay.

The America’s Cup World Series opens its second season here Tuesday with competition on the very water that will host the 34th America’s Cup in 2013. The circuit’s second event will also be held in The City Oct. 2-7 during Fleet Week before moving on to China in the winter.

“We’ll have the best sailors on the fastest boats within touching distance of Marina Green,” America’s Cup Event Authority CEO Stephen Barclay said. “It will be unlike any sailing event that people have ever seen before.”

Eleven boats from eight teams representing eight nations will compete in four days of match-racing, with qualifiers Wednesday, quarterfinals Thursday and Friday, semifinals Saturday and a championship race Sunday.

The event will also feature two fleet races per day on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, with the winner earning 12 points, second place 10 points, third place nine points, fourth place eight points and so on. A Super Sunday fleet race worth exponentially more points (the winner gets 40) will be held on the final day of competition.  The team with the highest total after Sunday’s contest will be the event’s fleet-racing champion and points will carry forward to the next AC World Series regatta event.

Team Oracle USA, the champion of the 33rd America’s Cup and the winner of the first AC World Series that finished earlier this summer, is considered the favorite heading into competition. The home team’s biggest challengers will likely be two squads — Emirates Team New Zealand and Artemis Racing (Sweden) — that are squaring off in the Louis Vuitton Cup next summer for the right to challenge Team Oracle in the 34th America’s Cup in September 2013.

The development of the America’s Cup World Series is part of a larger effort to make competitive sailing a more spectator-friendly sport. America’s Cup races were previously held 10 to 15 miles away from shore, but recent technological innovations are making sailing faster and more exciting, spawning a desire to bring the action closer to shore and into living rooms across the globe.

“We were in Venice earlier this year and it was just amazing racing right there in front of the ancient city,” said Team Oracle USA’s John Kostecki, who won a silver medal at the 1988 Olympics.

America’s Cup racing also returned to network television for the first time in 20 years on July 1, when NBC aired the 2011-12 AC World Series’ final day of competition in Newport, R.I. More than 1 million people tuned in, and with live cameras and mics on the boats, viewers got an intimate look at what the racing experience is all about.

The San Francisco Bay is the perfect setting to showcase the sport over the next 13 months with shots of the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, boats speeding past Alcatraz and a plethora of panoramic viewing spots along the waterfront.

“It’s an ideal venue,” Kostecki said. “Perfect for spectators — it’s just incredibly scenic.”

The race

WHEN: Tuesday to Sunday
WHERE: Marina Green
PARTICIPANTS: Artemis Racing Red, Artemis Racing White, Ben Ainslie Racing, China Team, Emirates Team New Zealand, Energy Team, Luna Rossa Piranha, Luna Rossa Swordfish, Oracle Team USA Coutts, Oracle Team USA Spithill, Team Korea
EVENTS: Match racing and fleet racing

Weekly schedule

TUESDAY: Practice
WEDNESDAY: Match-racing qualifier
THURSDAY: Match-racing quarterfinals; two fleet-race qualifiers
FRIDAY: Match-racing quarterfinals; two fleet-race qualifiers
SATURDAY: Match-racing semifinals; two fleet-race qualifiers
SUNDAY: Match-racing finals; Super Sunday fleet race
START TIMES: 2:05 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday; 11:30 a.m. Sunday

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Paul Gackle

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