America’s Cup World Series Starts Today in San Francisco Bay

AC World Series on SF Bay

If you are in the Bay Area this week you might want to head over to the Marina district in San Francisco to catch some of the America’s Cup World Series events that start today on San Francisco Bay.

This is not the actual America’s Cup race, those are slated to begin next year, nor is it a set of races that will enable the winner to advance to next year’s race but rather a set of competitions between smaller boats.

The World Series races use 45 foot boats, called AC45s, rather than the 72 foot AC72 models that will race next year for the trophy. There will be 11 teams on the water and the format will be very different as well.

This is head to head sailing with a multitude to teams participating. The teams are seeded and the racing qualifiers start today, followed by quarterfinal races on both Thursday and Friday. The semifinals will be Saturday and the finals on Sunday.

This is a new format, from the previous (and first) sailing of the America’s Cup World Series that will have six teams competing today in the qualifiers. The other five are the top ranked boats from the standings of the 2011-12 ACWS Match Racing Championship. The top three from today advance to the semi’s tomorrow.

It is interesting to note that there are several possible race course configurations, depending on how the wind is, or is not, blowing on any given day. As anybody who has spent any time on the Bay knows it has a strong current, an almost constant chop and usually strong winds that shift directions as the day goes by.

It is interesting to note that while the teams spend millions on their boats, there is no purse in the America’s Cup, they do it for bragging rights and the ability to be the home team and select the race site for the next cup defense. It would be nice to have that much money to throw around.


Volvo Ocean Race Coverage Brings Excitement to Sailing Event

An odd thing happened last night while searching for a baseball game on television, I found a boat race on Root Sports (who came up with that name?) and actually became engrossed in what was happening and the outcome.

The event was part of an event called the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-2012, formerly called the Whitbread Round the World Race and the current race started last October with a departure from Alicante, Spain and finishes this July with the conclusion of the race at Galway, Ireland.

There are six teams involved and each has 11 members on board. Any type of sailboat is allowed in the race. You can get the same type of information from the web site as you could from a more mainstream sport- live video updates, pictures, information on teams and boats and positioning of where all of the boats are when they are out on the water.

The leg of the race I saw was a rerun of the segment that was coming into Auckland, and had them sailing amid the Solomon Islands, site of the WWII battle of Guadalcanal among others, and the sailors were worrying about the wind being blocked by the islands etc…

I am not sure how many people are interested, and aside from a very occasional glance at the America’s Cup I have never watched yachting before, but found there was a good deal more in terms of strategy and tactics than I had believed there to be.

On Saturday the boats depart Itajai, Brazil on Leg 6 and will head out towards Miami, a trip that is expected to take roughly 20 days. From Miami the race will head to Lisbon, then Lorient and end in Galway. Even if you are not that interested the documentary on the Leg 5 segment, through the Southern Ocean, the roughest in the world, is very interesting, and convinced me I am not set to be a sailor.