Team NZ right at home in San Francisco wind
San Francisco's winds have caused havoc with the preliminary America's Cup fleet though Team New Zealand have escaped unscathed as they get set to contest the second edition of the World Series tomorrow.
TNZ have received a free ride into the quarterfinals of the match racing, based on the seedings from the first World Series where they finished second to cup holders Oracle. They will also contest the opening two fleet races tomorrow.
Dean Barker's crew have had a busy week training in San Francisco getting up to speed with conditions. It's an ideal tester ahead of next year's Louis Vuitton Cup and the America's Cup that will be sailed in the California city.
With winds averaging more than 20 knots and gusts up to 30 knots, there have been casualties in the high-powered AC45 catamarans sailed this week.
There have been several capsizes in practice, including Luna Rossa Swordfish going end-over-end, destroying the wing sail.
Barker has been happy to get back into racing mode after testing the syndicate's giant new 72-foot catamaran in Auckland. He's also eager to see his crew improve after a sloppy finish to the last World Series cost them their chance of overtaking Oracle. “There's an expectation of a better performance than at Newport in June,” Barker said.
“We were far from happy with Newport; we have spent time debriefing that and now we're ready to get back into AC45 racing.
“In the end the America's Cup is all about racing and we need a fast boat. The difficult thing is to get the balance right on developing the AC72 and racing the AC45.”
Eight teams are involved: Artemis Racing (Sweden), China, Emirates Team New Zealand, Energy Team (France), JP Morgan BAR (Great Britain), Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 (Italy), Oracle Team USA and Team Korea. The fleet now numbers 11 boats with Artemis, Luna Rossa and Oracle each fielding two crews, and the return of the Chinese.
A lot of attention will fall on the debut of the British team skippered by Ben Ainslie, fresh from his Olympic heroics where he won a fourth consecutive gold medal.
“With a new team, more boats and more sailors, San Francisco should be an outstanding regatta,” said America's Cup regatta director Iain Murray.
“The racecourse will certainly be more intense than we've seen before, and the consistent strong winds and current-driven chop will keep the competitors on their toes." Fairfax NZ