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ACWS San Francisco skippers set for exhilarating racing on San Francisco Bay

By 34th America’s Cup media on 22 Aug 2012 21-26 August 2012
Photos © Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA 2012
Practice session ahead of the ACWS San Francisco
Practice session ahead of the ACWS San Francisco

The 11 skippers leading crews at ACWS San Francisco this week were introduced to the public this evening at a ceremony on the main stage of the ACWS Race Village at Marina Green.

This afternoon the fleet took to San Francisco Bay for a practice session in winds between 17 and 20 knots. The action was exhilarating for JR Hildebrand, 24, a San Francisco native and IndyCar driver who spent the day as guest racer with ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL.

"It was awesome. It's such a cool thing to be a part of," said Hildebrand, the 2011 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year. "You don't have to be going 200 mph to feel like you're hauling ass. It was very cool. It's a like-relationship, racing cars and racing boats. Everything's very sensitive. How these guys work together to get right up against the other boats is really impressive. It gives me a lot of appreciation for what these guys do."

In other practice action, Emirates Team New Zealand and China Team each capsized. Five crews now have capsized since practice began. Here's what the skippers had to say at this morning's media briefing:

Ben Ainslie, J.P. Morgan BAR
On managing the AC45 on the racecourse: "It's going to be exciting. It'll be slightly chaotic on the start line in 20 knots with 11 boats; I'm sure we're going to see an amazing spectacle. I'm going to have to back off because the big thing is to avoid any damage."

Russell Coutts, ORACLE TEAM USA COUTTS
On the predicted flood tide changing tactics: "Wind shifts will still be important upwind and downwind. Judging the approach to marks is going to be challenging as well. If you get that wrong and have to do extra tacks or jibes it'll be expensive, but I'm looking forward to it."

Yann Guichard, Energy Team
On being back on the helm after coaching: "After a good training session last week I'm very pleased to be back and quite confident, but there are 11 boats on the start line so the risk management is essential because a capsize can happen suddenly."

Terry Hutchinson, Artemis Racing White
On what's new on board since ACWS Newport: "We have the same crew as the previous regatta in Newport. We have a new J3, the heavy-air jib; no surprise there. We've been developing some Code 0s and trying to figure out which one to use."

John Kostecki, ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL
On what he's looking forward to this week: "I'm looking forward to showcasing the America's Cup World Series to people here in the Bay area. I think it'll be pretty cool going to Marina Green and watching the racing. It's a unique racecourse because we'll be racing parallel to the shoreline."

Santiago Lange, Artemis Racing Red
On racing the AC45 compared to the Tornado catamaran: "From the point of view of stability or digging the bow, I think the AC45 is safer than a Tornado. But it's a lot harder because there are five people on board and it's very physical for the crew."

Nathan Outteridge, Team Korea
On the expected crowded starting line: "When you have a lot of boats near you and you can't steer where you want to steer, that's when it gets nerve-wracking. If you steer to the wrong position you capsize, and if there's a boat in your way there are going to be capsizes."

Phil Robertson, China Team
On returning to the ACWS: "We're extremely happy to be back racing the ACWS. There couldn't be a better place to be sailing than San Francisco Bay. The wind is fantastic and the boats are extremely exciting to sail in that much pressure; they're a handful."

Max Sirena, Luna Rossa Swordfish
On the strong winds expected this week: "We've never sailed so much in such strong wind. The only day was one in Naples when we had 25-30 knots. It's going to be tough because the AC45 is a really powerful boat and with the wing you can't depower it that much."

Jimmy Spithill, ORACLE TEAM USA SPITHILL
On racing in front of the home crowd: "It's huge. We had the final event of the last AC World Series in Newport, and one of the key things to winning was the fan support. It was overwhelming. I really want to see everyone coming down here and getting into it."

Wednesday's match racing schedule features No. 6-seed Team Korea vs. No. 11 J.P. Morgan BAR, No. 7 Luna Rossa – Piranha vs. No. 10 Artemis Racing Red and No. 8 Luna Rossa – Swordfish vs. No. 9 China Team. Each match is a best-of-three.

Racing continues Thursday with two pairs of the match racing quarterfinals and the first two fleet races. View the racing lineup at ACWS San Francisco Regatta Format and additional event information at the ACWS San Francisco event page.

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