On the Bay

Battle for the America’s Cup begins on the bay this month

Oracle Teams Spithill (No. 4) and Couts (5) in the final race of the 2011-2012 ACWS (photo: Gilles Martin-Raget)

The Marina will get its first taste of America’s Cup racing action live on the Bay starting Aug. 21 as international sailing teams ramp up for the main event in 2013. The 2012–2013 season of the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) gets underway with Oracle Racing Team Spithill defending their championship earned in the recently concluded 2011-2012 season.

This month, and again in October, the America’s Cup Village will be located on the Marina Green, with free admission to the main public area. Races are held along the City’s waterfront, with great viewing anywhere from Pier 39 and Fort Mason to Crissy Field.

There are 10 teams competing on AC45 catamarans, which are powered by wingsails towering more than 65 feet above the deck of the boat. These dangerously fast vessels can reach speeds up to 30 knots, requiring athletic crews and lightning fast decisions on the water.

Racing takes place in both a match format, with two teams matched on the course at a time, and a fleet racing format, with all competitors racing around the same course from a single starting line – exciting sailing action at its best.

The AC45s are a preview of the AC72s that will race in the America’s Cup in fall 2013, providing teams an opportunity to increase their skills on these multi-hull boats before the main event. Currently, ACWS competing teams include Artemis Racing, Sweden (the challenger of record for 2013); Ben Ainslie Racing, United Kingdom; China Team; Emirates Team, New Zealand; Energy Team, France; Team Korea; Luna Rossa, Italy with two teams, Piranha and Swordfish; and Oracle Team USA (the defender for 2013) with two entries: one skippered by Jimmy Spithill, one by Russell Couts.

The racing format gets a new look this season, with the tentative race schedule shaping up as follows for the San Francisco Bay:

Tuesday, Aug. 21: Practice on the Bay – 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 22: Match Racing Qualifier – (20) 15-minute match races, starts at 1 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 23: Match Racing Qualifier – two fleet races, 2:10 p.m. and 3:05 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 24: Match Racing Qualifier – two fleet races, 2:10 p.m. and 3:05 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 25: Match Racing Qualifier – two fleet races, 2:10 p.m. and 3:05 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 25: Match Racing Semi Finals – two races, 3:50 p.m. and 3:55 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 25: Match Racing Finals – 4:20 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 26: “Super Sunday” ACWS Championship Fleet Race – starts at 12:25 p.m.

On Sunday, there will also be a new Celebrity Pro-Am Fleet Race starting at 1 p.m., followed by the closing awards ceremony at 3:00 p.m. at the Marina Green Village, which will be open to the public.

The second series of the ACWS season will also be in San Francisco during Fleet Week, from Oct. 2–7.

Points earned from “Super Sunday” fleet racing accumulate over the course of the year to determine the America’s Cup World Series champion. Points earned from a team’s finishing position in the Match Racing Championship determine the America’s Cup World Series Match Racing champion for the season. For the challengers, these points also determine a Louis Vuitton ranking, which will confer an advantage at the beginning of next year’s Louis Vuitton Cup.

If you can’t make it down to the waterfront – or just want to avoid the crowds – America’s Cup sailing will be broadcast live on network television for the first time in 20 years. NBC Sports will cover the final event for each series, along with highlights of all the week’s races. There will also be live streaming coverage available on the America’s Cup website. With boat cams, helmet cams, helicopter and chase boat cams, the coverage will be phenomenal and will put you right in the heart of the action. And with the new Emmy Award-winning LiveLine technology developed by Stan Honey’s Sportvision (creators of football’s yellow first down line, baseball’s K-zone, and Nascar’s race track), it will be easy to follow the race and understand just what is happening on the water no matter what your experience level is with the sport.

For up-to-the-minute information, visit To watch for other upcoming regattas on the Bay, you can check the schedules at the Yacht Racing Association of San Francisco Bay at, and of course our own neighborhood yacht clubs at or
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