On the Bay

AC World Series makes a splash

San Francisco was on display as teams rounded the first mark on Day 4 photo: Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA

Between a couple of catamarans capsizing during practice to start the week off, to Olympic track star Michael Johnson going overboard off the Oracle Team USA Coutts boat during the final race, the first events of the 2012–2013 America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) made quite a splash on the Bay. For anyone who has managed to avoid reading a newspaper or watching the news for the past few weeks, the ACWS appears to have lived up to the hype and excitement the organizing committee had promised.

After five days of racing, the final championships were decided by just seconds on Sunday, Aug. 26.

It was an all-Team USA event in the match racing finals, as Oracle Team USA Coutts (with skipper Russell Coutts) squared off against last season’s overall winner, Oracle Team USA Spithill (with skipper Jimmy Spithill). Coutts, at age 50, managed to prove that he still has a few tricks up his sleeve by edging out Spithill, 33, by just one second in a hotly contested race that saw both teams scream across the finish line at 20 knots.

In the 11-boat fleet racing final, it also came right down to the wire, with Luna Rossa Piranha (Italy) nearly capsizing as it careened across the finish line just three seconds ahead of Spithill, who had rounded the final mark in third place.

However, Spithill took the overall Fleet Racing Championship by one point in the cumulative total from seven races, narrowly edging out Team Korea (helmed by the recent Olympic gold medalist, Nathan Outteridge) by less than four seconds, due to a penalty on Team Korea at the last mark.

While Oracle Team USA made it a double win for the week, other teams were enthusiastic about the race format, the venue, and the crowds that showed up to cheer them all on, and say they are looking forward to the next series on the Bay.

Up Next: Rolex Big Boat Series

Offering cutting-edge grand-prix-style racing, the 48th edition of the Rolex Big Boat Series will take to the waters from Sept. 6–9 with a new twist this year: performance catamarans will join the roster of monohulls for the first time, inspired by the America’s Cup World Series.

“I love catamarans. You just can’t beat the thrill and adrenaline of racing them on San Francisco Bay, and this year’s Rolex Big Boat Series will be the first premier class regatta that includes a catamaran division,” said St. Francis Yacht Club commodore Peter Stoneberg, who will be racing in the event aboard his ProSail 40 catamaran Shadow.

The new class will include performance catamarans over 35 feet, with no limitations on technology or design. They will be scored using handicap ratings and race on courses similar to those used for America’s Cup racing.

In 1964, the St. Francis Yacht Club established the Big Boat Series as an annual event on San Francisco Bay. In 2005, Rolex Watch USA became the regatta’s title sponsor and since then, the Rolex Big Boat Series has become widely recognized as one of the most important sailing events in the United States, attracting world-caliber sailors.

For up-to-date race information, visit

America’s Cup Action Returns in October

The AC45s will return to San Francisco Bay from Oct. 2–7 for the second of four events in the America’s Cup World Series 2012–13. The races will coincide with Fleet Week festivities.
We’ll have more to tell you about that matchup next month.

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