Newport – New Venue, New Challenge


While the teams are preparing for the next stop on the America’s Cup World Series in San Diego, beginning November 12, the more farsighted are also thinking about what lays in story for 2012.

AC World Series venues Venice, Italy and Newport, Rhode Island will offer very different sailing challenges compared to what the teams have faced to date, according to veteran tactician John Kostecki.

The inaugural America’s Cup World Series 2011-2012 heads to Venice from May 12-20, 2012, before the final leg in Newport, Rhode Island, from June 23 through July 1.

Newport, Rhode Island | © ACEA

The iconic city of Venice, Italy will host Cup style racing for the first time, while Newport, which has played host to some of the most legendary America’s Cup battles in the competition’s 160 year history, will welcome the event back for the first time since 1983.

Kostecki, an America’s Cup winner with ORACLE Racing in 2010 and now tactician on ORACLE Racing Spithill, has experience sailing in both spots.

“Venice is an incredible venue because we’ll be sailing right along the shore next to the historical city,” he says. “We’re going to see the new modern boats right in there so it’s pretty cool.

“There will likely be a little bit less wind and it is a pretty tight race course, quite similar to Plymouth in that it will be a short racetrack with many laps.

“So there will be more emphasis on boat handling and less emphasis on boat speed.

“Newport is a bit different again. It’s a natural amphitheatre with people lining both shorelines so it’s another fantastic venue.

“There is a lot of current running in and out of the bay so that’s going to be a very big factor. A lot can happen wind-wise, but most likely it will be a sea breeze at the time of year we will be racing so it should be a more consistent wind.”

The radical AC45s have already been wowing crowds in Cascais and Plymouth with their exhilarating bursts of acceleration and eye-watering top-end speeds.

But the key to this new breed of America’s Cup yacht is that they are equally capable of racing in light airs or a stiff breeze.

“The boats have a very broad range which comes from the wing,” says Iain Murray, Regatta Director. “It generates significant power in light breezes. We can fly the hulls in five knots and so still hold meaningful races.

“[In Plymouth] we had racing with gusts up to 30 knots of wind but we’re able to de-camber the wings which gives the opportunity to have this great versatility and ease of handling.”

Allied to the versatility of the boats is the flexibility of the format and adjusting the competition to suit the vagaries of each venue, says Murray.

“Every city we go to presents some form of challenge but the good thing about it is we’re totally adaptable,” he says.

“We continually work with the teams to develop the courses and adapt. The sailors are keen to work with us and keen to get in close to the shore because not only does it look good and feel good, but there are a lot of opportunities for passing, both with the high speed of the yachts but also the vagaries of the wind coming off the shore. It is just another challenge for these guys.

“So whether we are next to the historic city of Venice or it is the wind coming through the gun holes on Fort Adams, they are great venues.”

That’s all to look forward to in 2012. But the next challenge is San Diego, where racing will take place inside the Bay, from November 12-20.

Americas Cup
The 34th America´s Cup consists of three main stages – the America´s Cup World Series, the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America´s Cup Finals. Each AC World Series regatta will be a combination of practice and championship racing, with additional practice sailing on-site ahead of each event.
Photos / Videos: Americas Cup & © GILLES MARTIN-RAGET / ACEA
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