Initial America's Cup World Series touted as ‘wonderful’ 

click to enlarge Teaser: Race officials estimate 150,000 spectators were on hand to see The City’s first dose of America’s Cup sailing. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Teaser: Race officials estimate 150,000 spectators were on hand to see The City’s first dose of America’s Cup sailing.

City officials are heralding the first America’s Cup World Series event held in San Francisco as a success, as crowds lined Marina Green for five days to watch the world’s fastest boats push toward sailing’s biggest prize.

“The response from the public has exceeded our expectations,” said Stephen Barclay, CEO of the America’s Cup.

“This was our first event in San Francisco and our first opportunity to get a taste of racing the wingsail catamarans on the Bay. It’s simply been wonderful for everyone involved.”

Race officials estimated that more than 150,000 people turned out to watch the event and reported that all tickets were sold out each day.

With a series of close finishes and events taking place closer to shore than at any other location in the ACWS, fans got a taste of exactly how exciting sailing can be, and the competitors noticed a difference as well.

Jimmy Spithill, skipper for the defending champion Oracle Team USA, said before racing began that he notices strong performances from the Italian teams when the venue was in Italy, and later said that same trend held true here. His words were backed up by a clean sweep of both the match and fleet racing by Spithill and teammate Russell Coutts.

Many boats had to adapt their strategy to unique conditions on San Francisco Bay.

“It was very much about the shore and timing when you came back,” Chris Draper, skipper for Luna Rossa Piranha, said after the second day of competition. “The boats were moving down a really small corridor so it was about finding a little gap and that was tricky.”

Draper and his crew adjusted well, winning the final fleet race to finish second in the overall standings.

Now that all 11 teams have had a chance to experience competition in Oracle’s backyard, some of the defending champion’s advantage will be gone, though their track record still has other teams naming them as the crew to beat.

Now the competitors will get a break until Oct. 2-7, when the next stage of the ACWS will take place, this time in conjunction with Fleet Week.

Officials are hoping to have more infrastructure in place between now and then, as several projects are still underway in preparation for the final event of the 34th America’s Cup, scheduled for Sept. 7-22, 2013.

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