Nearly ideal conditions greeted the AC World Series teams in Newport on Wednesday as they took to the water for official training – a final opportunity to tune up ahead of Thursday’s Championship Racing. Winds in the 10-15 knot range under sunny skies meant the Narragansett race course was perfect for the final tune-up.
Crowds lined the north lawn of Fort Adams to soak up the atmosphere and watch the final preliminaries ahead of Championship Racing on Thursday.
Newport marks the sixth and final stop on the 2011-12 AC World Series circuit and with just four points separating the leading ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill from Dean Barker’s Emirates Team New Zealand, the races here will determine the overall season champion.
For Barker, tomorrow’s first day of racing could be the key to the championship. He says his team has to advance through the initial match racing stages if he is to have a chance at catching Spithill.
“We need to do well in the match racing and continue to do well in the fleet racing,” Barker said. “Tomorrow (Thursday) is the key day. You have to get through the quarter-finals of the match racing which we haven’t done in the last two events. So for us to have any chance of winning the overall we have to have a good day tomorrow. And if we do that, then let’s see what happens the rest of the week.”
Newport sees the return of Russell Coutts to the helm of the second ORACLE TEAM USA boat. He hasn’t skippered the team since the Plymouth regatta in September last year. He says that already in the practice racing he can see the game has moved on.
“They’re all quality sailors on these teams, so right across the board the fleet is tough,” he says. “You only need to make one or two mistakes and you drop back pretty fast. And we’re still making plenty of mistakes. So we’ll try to tidy it up over the next few days and see if we can’t pull together a decent regatta.”
When it was suggested he might challenge stablemate Jimmy Spithill this week, he just laughed, saying Spithill and crew are sailing very, very well. And he noted it would be a big achievement for the team if the Spithill squad was able to secure the overall championship.
“It’s very important for us,” Coutts said. “We’re certainly hoping he and his team can win the first round of the world series and conclude on a winning note and look forward to starting the next one with equal conviction.”
How the video coverage in Newport works:
On Thursday June 28, the first day of racing starts at noon with one fleet race to seed the teams into their match racing slots. Then it’s a full afternoon of match race quarter-finals. The teams are paired up according to their seeding position and will race best of three quarter-finals for the right to advance to Friday’s semi final matches.
On Thursday, broadcasters taking our live feed and our coverage on youtube.com/americascup (subject to territorial broadcast agreements) starts at 1400 EDT and will consist of ‘as live’ coverage of the seeding fleet race as well as the decisive match races in the quarter-finals.
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the racing and broadcast both start at 1430 EDT, meaning we’ll have live coverage of all of the fleet and match racing. Sunday’s coverage is live, coast to coast in the USA on NBC.
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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