After watching the first event of the America’s Cup World Series in Cascais, Portugal on the internet and Youtube, we were truly intrigued. Literally sitting on the edges of our seats, we were blown away at the excitement this new racing class and format had to offer. We immediately started making plans to attend the final weekend of the next event in Plymouth, UK.
A quick ferry ride across the English Channel and a short drive on the “wrong” side of the road and we were in Plymouth. For most Americans, Plymouth is known as the port that the Mayflower set sail for the New World carrying the Pilgrims. Today, it is a college town surrounded by water and marinas.
Saturday morning, we quickly made our way over to “The Base”. A large grassy area situated on The Hoe was transformed into the entertainment center of the regatta with it’s huge tv screen, live stage, and race viewing area.
Next, we headed over to the Team Village where the boats are stored, repaired, and prepared for the day of racing.
After a lunch of fish and chips, we headed back to The Base to find our spot to watch the races. Saturday was the final day of match racing and we were looking forward to watching the semi-finals and finals for the Match Racing Championship.
Team Korea was a surprising winner over Sweden’s Artemis Racing in the semi-finals. Unfortunately, Team New Zealand proved too much for the Koreans as they took home the championship.
The Fleet Racing Championship was held on Sunday. With strong winds gusting to over 30 knots, it was sure to be an exciting race.
China Team couldn’t make the first mark rounding before their first capsize.
Escaping the chaos of the start, the experienced crews aboard the USA’s Oracle Team Spithill and Oracle Team Coutts and Team New Zealand quickly got out front for a battle to the finish. After many lead changes, Oracle Team Spithill crossed the finish line first.
In all, the event was a tremendous success. Organizers claim that over 150,000 spectators came to watch the races throughout the week. The natural Plymouth Sound created a perfect “stadium” atmosphere to cheer on their favorite teams.
I have to admit that after witnessing the finish of the 33rd America’s Cup in Valencia, I was unsure about using multihulls in future America’s Cups. I felt that abandoning the classic monohulls, the organizers would be alienating their core followers of amateur racers that compete in local monohull regattas on weekday evenings and weekends.
Well, I am glad they didn’t listen to me! I have never attended a sailing event where thousands of people “oohed”, “awwed”, and cheered every few minutes. The competitiveness of these sailors and the incredible machines they are mastering are sure to make this scene a regularity instead of a rarity while undoubtedly endearing new fans to the sport of sailing.
For more information on the 34th America’s Cup and the events leading up to the grand finale in San Francisco in 2013 be sure to check out www.americascup.com .