The 2013 World Series championship has finally been decided and all eyes are now looking towards San Francisco Bay for the final racing in the current America’s Cup event.
The World Series has been a prelude to the America’s Cup and has been staged over three years of racing, with events being held both in the United States as well as the Mediterranean. The concept is new, mainly because this year’s America’s Cup will be raced in huge, fast and incredibly expensive wing sail catamarans called the AC72s. Just to make sure every team had a chance to get an idea of how to race these yachts, the World Series was invented and raced in smaller catamarans called AC45s.
The Bay of Naples
Each year has been run as a stand alone championship, so that there have been overall winners for 2011, 2012 and now 2013. In addition, the points have been added and there is an overall championship winner for the whole series.
This year’s championship winners were the Italian syndicate Luna Rossa in the fastest of their two boats, Luna Rossa Swordfish, skippered by Francesco Bruni. However, the Series winners were Oracle USA, skippered by Tom Slingsby. The America’s Cup rules are some of the most confusing and difficult to understand of any sport and this year’s America’s Cup is one more example of a sport that is as much about money as it is about technique and skill.
Despite the performance of teams in the World Series, the contestants, or “Challengers”, to use America’s Cup terminology, have already been decided some time ago – a team from Sweden, Artemis Racing, Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand. These teams will race against each other in San Francisco in the Louis Vuitton Cup to see which boat is to take on the “Defender”, Oracle USA, in the final series.
There have been complaints that the requirement that races must use the wing keel catamarans makes it prohibitively expensive for most potential competitors, making it a sport more between competing billionaires than an international yacht race, despite the fact that each team has a number of companies sponsoring them.
Some teams have had to pull out of the race series because of technicalities and difficulties with building suitable boats and the huge expense. An estimate of the total cost of a single America’s Cup challenge is in the range of 80 to 120 million U.S. dollars – not chicken feed by any means!
The decision about the AC72s was apparently to make the whole series more interesting for spectators and they certainly travel fast. Some of the trials with the catamarans so far have seen speeds of over 40 knots on the water. Whether the cost of the boats will see the Cup change yet again after this year’s event remains to be seen, but San Francisco Bay will definitely see a great deal of exciting yacht racing going on this summer.
The first race in the Louis Vuitton Cup is scheduled for July 4th – American Independence Day – and the races will go on right through to September. The final battle between the winning challenger and Oracle USA is being extended and the winner will now be the first to win 9 match races (i.e. one boat against another). In between the Louis Vuitton Cup and the final America’s Cup will be a new Youth America’s Cup, with young contestants racing in AC 45s.
Whatever the outcome of this year’s race, the antics of the billionaires who control the parameters of the America’s Cup will continue to grab the public’s attention.
The “Auld Mug”, the affectionate name for the America’s Cup, has been won by a New Zealand team on two previous occasions. However, if it is not won back from the Americans this year in San Francisco, it will most likely be the last time they will be able to afford to enter a team.
Emirates Team New Zealand are in the process of launching their second wing keeled catamaran, the AC72, which they will race in San Francisco Bay later in the year, but the managing director of the team, Grant Dalton, said this was the team’s last chance.
New Zealand has often hit major yachting news in the past, due to its attempts to win the America’s Cup and it is now about to launch its own version of the 72ft catamaran, NZL5, in the hope of remaining in the limelight.
Up to the Mark, 32nd Amer…
One of the features of the America’s Cup is its sheer expense and there is no end in sight when it comes to the dollars required to construct a yacht that is capable of withstanding the competition that is apparent in this event. $120 million – the value of each contesting boat – is far beyond most pockets, except those that have millions to either invest or throw away.
There are only three challengers that will contest the current cup holder in San Francisco this year and they are Luna Rosa, Artemis and Team New Zealand. Billionaires are normally needed to back the event, but Team New Zealand has had to depend on a meagre $37 million handout from their own government. The government’s hope is that they will win and benefit New Zealand’s economy by encouraging tourism and interest in the next event that always takes place in the country that won the last cup. Not surprisingly, there is huge pressure on the New Zealand team’s captain to deliver the goods.
The AC72 yachts have their power generated by massive wing sails and are apparently able to move at double the speed of the wind at any point in time. The crew can’t just sit back and watch the action unfold, but have to be extremely fit to endure the physical challenges involved in pushing the AC 72 to its limits. The roles assigned to each member of the team have to be coordinated so that ever metre of movement is monitored, so that no mistakes can be made. The demands, both physical and mental, compete well with some of the hardest and most challenging sports found throughout the world.
All teams have been expected to design and construct their own AC72s for the racing events that take place in the Louis Vuitton Cup, which is the selection series that takes place before the final America’s Cup event.
July 1, 2012 was the launch day for the AC72, but only 30 days of testing and training on the boat are allowed before January 31, 2013.
On February 1 2013, the second AC72 can be launched and practice with these amazing, but super expensive sailing macines can then commence.
America’s Cup fans and the New Zealand people can only stand back and wait to see the outcome of the event this summer, staged at the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco.
The latest regatta in the Americas cup World Series has just ended in light airs off the coast of Venice in Italy with the French contestant, Energy Team, winning the scoreboard on points after some dramatic days racing.
The America’s Cup Finals are not scheduled until September 2013, but the lead up to what has been touted as the oldest sporting trophy competition in history is hotting up with the difference between the leading syndicates getting closer.
Stars & Stripes Forever
This series sees the contestants fighting it out on the eater in revolutionary sailboats which can make amazing speeds – these are the wing sailed AC 45 catamarans, which have never been used before for the America’s Cup. They are 44 feet or 13.45 metres long and 6.9 metre in beam, with 21.5 metre masts. They have been used for the entire World Series regattas so that the competing teams can gain experience with the design, which can reach speeds of close to 30 knots in the right conditions.
The AC 45s will be replaced by even bigger catamarans for the finals. These will be the AC 72s.
Regatta of Excellence/Ranger
Despite the unwieldy size of the catamarans, they have been designed so that they can be disassembled and placed in a 40 foot container, which is the standard way that the teams ship their yachts to the different events.
Venice may seem an unlikely event for the America’s Cup but this has certainly not dissuaded the ancient city’s authorities from putting on a grand show for the teams and those who were watching the series.
The final day’s sailing experienced typically very light wind, which demanded very tactical racing skills by the competitors.
The French team thought that the light conditions favoured them and they have been on top of the points table for four successive days, so maybe they are right. The last day’s tiny puffs of wind, which seemed to come from all directions, meant that the boats had to make use of every nuance of wind in order to gain an advantage.
Despite the French team’s success in the Venice regatta, the overall points table sees Oracle USA leading Emirates Team New Zealand by four points overall with Artemis and Energy Team following close behind.
America`s Cup Jubilee
The next and last World Series regatta will be held off Newport Rhode Island in the USA in June.
The Americas Cup has seen quite a turn around in the last 30 years, although for the first 104 years of its history it was something of a non event, being won year after year by the defending American boat in American waters. What gave the race series new impetus was the initiation of the Challenger series called the Louis Vuitton Cup. This is now the standard way that the challenging teams fight it out for the chance to take on the Defender, who is the team that won the Cup in the last series. The first Louis Vuitton Cup was won by an Australian boat, Australia II and this team was also the first non American team to win the “Auld Mug”. Since then it has also been won by teams from New Zealand and Switzerland, although the present America’s Cup defender is again an American one and the finals of the cup will see two giant cats race against each other in San Francisco.
The first race regatta of the America’s Cup World Series has now finished and was won by the winning yacht, Emirates New Zealand. The regatta was staged at Cascais in Portugal last week. There was tight competition as is usual with America’s Cup contenders as they raced in the AC 45 yachts that are all identical in size thus leaving it down to the tactics of the skipper and crew to use their skills to push their yacht to the limits.
Oracle, the baby of owner and CEO Larry Ellison, tried its best to come out tops but Dean Barker and Emirates Team New Zealand showed their strengths and fought hard to win. They were closely pursued by an Artemis team that seemed to have managed to get their yacht into serious action and were finally placed second.
The next round is to take place in Plymouth, England. The Plymouth Sounds, offshore from the infamous Plymouth Hoe, are to be the staging post of the second round in mid September. The Plymouth waterfront is steeped in maritime history. It should be known by all Americans today as the launching point for the Pilgrim Fathers who in 1620 firmly established a new British colony on the shores of North America. Sir Francis Chichester also set sail from Plymouth in the 1960’s to complete an epic solo round the world voyage unaided.
Plymouth has always been a magnetic attraction for renowned yachtsmen and women from the around the globe and has been the host for the start and finish of many important sailing events including the Fastnet, Tall Ships and Clipper races as well as the Trans Atlantic races.
Plymouth Hoe supports an outstanding viewpoint to watch all maritime activities with plenty of space to watch the amazing AC45’s as they leap into action at speeds that will defy any racing yacht in decades earlier.
Around fifteen teams are expected to take part but after the series and the Luis Vuitton Cup is completed there will only be the challenger (the yacht that wins the series) and the defender (the yacht that won the last America’s Cup) who will take part in the final series in San Francisco hosted by the Golden Gate Yacht Club in 2013. The current AC 45’s launched in New Zealand earlier this year will be used for this set of regattas and they can reach speeds of 30 knots in favourable conditions but the design for the final AC 72’s yachts in 2013 will remain under lock and key.
The AC 45 is basically allowing crews to gain experience on wing sailed multihulls. The 45 has been designed to be used throughout the 2011 and 2012 in America’s Cup World Series action packed events before being substituted by the AC 72s for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the final challenger and defender series.
The AC 45 is a high-tech racing boat, powered by a wing sail that soars more than 20 meters above the deck and has already proven to be an outstanding performer in winds from 5 to 30 knots in recent sea trials in New Zealand. Seemingly, size doesn’t matter as it is actually quite simple to sail and can be manouvered with ease.
It appears that there was quite a challenge to design a yacht that would not only fit the racing and performance requirements, but could also fit inside a forty foot container when dismantled which is the usual shipping method for the America’s Cup World Series. If the yacht could not be dismantled then the cost of shipping would be quite prohibitive.
Preparations are firmly underway for the prestigious America’s Cup Yacht Race. Billion dollar state of the art multi hull yachts are well beyond the construction stage and have already been taking part in trials around the world in readiness for the next big event that takes place in September 2013. These supremely fast mega yachts are not the ones you see on a Sunday afternoon plying up and down the harbours of Sydney, San Diego, San Francisco, Auckland or Valencia but they are custom built especially for these regular events that bring great status to leading yacht clubs around the world. This will be the first event when the faster multi hull will take over from the monohull with the hope that a new group of spectators will emerge to support this event, designed by and for some of the wealthiest on our planet.
It all began way back in 1851 when a casual annual racing event was taking place around the Isle of White off the south coast of England. The Americans wanted to challenge Britain’s supremacy as a world power so they sailed their own yacht across the Atlantic to challenge the British. To the surprise and consternation of the British they won and took the custom made trophy back to America. As the yacht that won that race was called ‘America”, the trophy was for then onwards known as America’s Cup. It is now commonly referred to as “The Auld Mug” which, made of silver, has had bits added to it to accommodate the increasing list of temporary owners. From then onwards the trophy remained in American hands in relative obscurity until history was made when the Australians wrenched the trophy from the Americans and placed it firmly on the shores of Fremantle harbour in 1983.
This period of retention was short lived and in the next few years was back on American shores until once again the trophy was wrested from their hands in 1995 and found its way to the sailing mad South Pacific nation of New Zealand. The sailing community was not going to let go easily and they retained the trophy and its honour through to 2000.
The next series in 2003 saw a return to Europe for the first time since 1851 when the Swiss yacht “Alinghi” fought to the bitter end to mount the challenge and won the trophy easily in the one to one race series against Team New Zealand. In a reversal of fortunes, they won again in 2007 in the final against Emirates Team New Zealand off Valencia in Mediterranean waters.
It was too much for the Americans to see small nations take over the limelight of this prestigious yacht race and they won it back again in 2010 under the auspices of the Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco, which is where the 2013 event will take place.
Teams from 13 nations are already lining up yachts, skippers and crews and are running trials in their harbours to select the best of everything to send to the Louis Vuitton challenger selection races commencing in July 2013.
The America’s Cup World Series which is a separate intermediary event has its first races taking place in Cascais, Portugal between the 6th to 14th August 2011 and a further event between the 8th and 10th September in Plymouth, England. This series will showcase the mega fast AC 45 wing sail catamarans and gives the opportunities for teams from Sweden, France, China, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Italy and the USA to challenge their team skills and the speed of their yachts to extreme limits. It will also get them used to sailing catamarans and their wing sails, which can if necessary be trimmed using electronic devices.
It gives a chance for each country to decide which boat and crew they are going to send to contest the Louis Vuitton Cup, which be will raced in the 22 metre AC 72’s – larger versions of the AC 45’s, with a speed of up to 30 knots, and takes place between 13th July and 1st September 2013. The ultimate winner of the one against one series of individual races is named “The Challenger” and goes on as the sole contender to take on the American “Defender” in and around San Fransisco harbour. The final best of three series takes place between two yachts only and determines which club will display “The Auld Mug” on their mantelpiece.