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August 27, 2012

Oracle Team USA Shines at ACWS Final

Super Sunday of the America’s Cup World Series earned its name with sunny skies, good breeze, fierce competition and tons of action.

© 2012 ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

The first America’s Cup World Series event of the 2012-1013 schedule concluded yesterday along the San Francisco Cityfront, with the home team, Oracle Team USA, taking top honors in both match racing and fleet racing.

Thousands turned out to watch the World Series, and they weren’t all sailors.

© Guilain Grenier / Oracle Team USA

If you weren’t lucky enough to be among the spirited crowds who witnessed the final match race between top contenders Jimmy Spithill and Russell Coutts (both of Oracle Team USA), you owe it to yourself to watch it via the America’s Cup You Tube channel. The hard-fought duel was a classic illustration of match racing artistry, with the lead changing three times, and the older but apparently more clever Coutts — who’s won the America’s Cup itself four times — squeaking out the win by a mere one second. The final sprint to the finish line was a heart-pounder, with both AC45 cats blasting toward the line at over 20 knots. Great stuff! (During Saturday’s semi finals, Coutts had eliminated Artemis Racing White, and Spithill had taken out Emirates Team New Zealand.)

Spithill proved he’s faster than Coutts, trading the lead with his elder three times, but experience won out during Sunday’s match race, leaving Coutts the victor.

© ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

Less than an hour later, the final fleet race was staged, with several teams contending for the overall win, as points earned in the final race were dramatically higher than in the previous six races (i.e. 40 for first, rather than 12 previously).

With 61 points going into the final, Spithill’s team found themselves in an intense battle of speed and wits with Team Korea, skippered by 26-year-old 49er and Moth champion Nathan Outteridge. As the two cats rounded the final mark, Spithill’s boat had a slight overlap on Outteridge’s stern. When Team Korea drew a ‘slow-down’ penalty, Spithill slipped from third to second place — behind Luna Rossa Piranha — which was just enough to capture the fleet racing and event championship. Spithill’s Oracle Team USA finished with 86 points over Piranha’s 85.

Luna Rossa Prada Piranha nearly capsized within feet of the fleet racing finish line.

© 2012 ACEA / Gilles Martin-Raget

By all accounts, the week’s events were a great success, with huge crowds of spectators turning out both along the shore and on the water. It’s estimated that more than 150,000 enthusiasts visited the AC Village at Marina Green. “The response from the public has exceeded our expectations,” said Stephen Barclay, the CEO of the 34th America’s Cup. “It’s simply been wonderful for everyone involved.”

Spithill and Coutts celebrate Oracle Team USA’s dominance in the America’s Cup World Series.

© 2012 Guilain Grenier / Oracle Team USA

The ACWS traveling road show will take a break until October (2-7), when a second San Francisco series will be staged along the Cityfront, coinciding with Fleet Week celebrations. While you’re marking your calendars, be sure to pencil in the main events of the 34th America’s Cup next summer — raced in 72-ft cats with 131-ft wing masts. Dates: the Louis Vuitton challenger series, July 4 to September 1, and the America’s Cup finals, September 7 to 22.

Building on the just-completed AC World Series, San Francisco Bay will be the focal point of world-class yacht racing for the foreseeable future. And as organizers frequently remind us, there has never before been an AC venue that’s more accessible to spectators. For complete info on past and future AC events, visit the organization’s excellent website.

Olympic sprinting legend Michael Johnson enjoyed his pre-race ride with Olympic sailing legend Ben Ainslie aboard J.P. Morgan BAR before hopping aboard Oracle Team USA Coutts during Super Sunday’s fleet racing. He then took an unexpected plunge off the back of the speeding cat, as seen in the video below.

© 2012 Guilain Grenier / Oracle Team USA


Musing About AC Finals Speed

During the just completed World Series, the AC 45s with wing mains hit speeds in the low 20s.

While sailing in the same conditions aboard the 60-ft (LOD) foiler l’Hydroptère DCNS on Thursday, we hit 35 knots. And l’Hydroptère DCNS has a soft sail. The next day Associate Publisher John Arndt and Kimball Livingston hit 45 knots in World Series conditions aboard l’Hydroptère DCNS. In other words, a 15-foot-longer foiler with soft sails sailed twice as fast as an AC 45 with a wing.

That brings up the question of how fast will an AC 72 with a wing — and foils, such as the Kiwis are putting on their cat — sail on San Francisco Bay? It boggles the mind.

Tropical Storm Isaac, Soon to Be a Hurricane?

Devan Mullins of Newport Beach reports that Tropical Storm Isaac — which killed 10 people in Haiti and the D.R. over the weekend — brought 50-knot winds to Key West before passing overhead and heading in the general direction of New Orleans. "Everyone was prepared for much worse," Mullins said, "but the storm didn’t really have a defined eye, so we lucked out."

The Mullins family nearly got blown away by Tropical Storm Isaac.

Point Beyond
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC

What was someone from California doing in Key West? "Our family — my wife Alisa, son Brady, 10, and Jamie, 7 — have been keeping our Shannon 38 Point Beyond on a mooring here since Alisa and I sailed her from California in ’93-’94. We were going to haul out Monday anyway to do some work prior to taking off in January on a six-month cruise to the Bahamas, the Canal and Central America, but with Isaac threatening, we decided to fly in a few days early and haul before the storm hit."

We’re now coming upon prime hurricane season in both the Pacific and Atlantic/Caribbean, so if you have a boat in either of those areas, please make sure she’s ready for whatever tropical nastiness might come her way. Small interests in both areas haven’t been hit hard in a number of years, so the odds are something is going to develop sooner rather than later. 

In Search of a Proper Title

Except for cooks and stewardesses, the overwhelming number of crew on large sailing yachts are male. But there are exceptions. In fact, at any big boat center — St. Martin, Antigua, Newport — there are always a couple of boats with a gal, invariably young and attractive, who is one of the deckhands. And we’re not talking about a token princess deckhands. These gals are smart, strong, gutsy, and wear their minor wounds as a source of pride. They like to think of themselves as being one of the guys, but they aren’t. They look and smell too good, and are usually more responsible and mature for their age.

We got to thinking about this the other day when we were looking through our photos of last year’s Voiles de St. Barth, and came across this photo of an attractive gal singlehandedly flaking the massive mizzen aboard Sir Peter Harrison’s much traveled Farr 115 Sojana. Note that she’s about 15 feet in the air and well aft of the boat’s transom. We suppose there are a lot of guys who find voluptuous young actresses in gowns and heels on red carpets or Playmates naked near a pool to be particularly attractive. Not us. Tan, fit and knowledgeable — we think that’s a very attractive look in a young woman. So here’s looking at all you gals!
By the way, since flaking a mizzen on a 115-footer is such a big job, we think it deserves its own job title. Any suggestions?
© Ellen Hoke Thirty-three knots is the fastest we’d ever sailed on a boat — until yesterday.
If you missed Liz Clark at the California Academy of Sciences last night, the young woman with the Santa Barbara Cal 40 Swell who has been singlehanding around Central America and French Polynesia for the last bunch of years, and who has been a frequent contributor Latitude, will be presenting her Voyage to the Source show at the San Francisco Patagonia Store at 770 North Point at 7:30 p.m.