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After months of waiting, wondering and lots of speculation, the 2013 America’s Cup finally opened yesterday on July 4th with the grand Opening Ceremony on the main stage at the America’s Cup Pavilion.

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Opening Ceremonies at America’s Cup Pavilion. Photo: Nancy Birnbaum, © 2013

Sailors of the four teams contesting the 2013 America’s Cup—ORACLE TEAM USA, Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa Challenge and Artemis Racing were introduced to cheering crowds from their home nations and just about everywhere else.

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ORACLE TEAM USA.
Photo: Nancy Birnbaum, © 2013

The 34th America’s Cup is being hosted in the U.S. for the first time since 1995 and will most likely be known from now on as the “San Francisco America’s Cup.” At least according to S.F. Mayor,  Ed M. Lee.

The Opening Ceremony featured cultural performances from the four competing nations, including the native New Zealand Maori performing arts group Te Waka Huia, by the tenor Pasquale Esposito from Italy, and Sweden’s Voices of Sweden Choir. The Recycle Percussion troupe performed a rousing rendition of The National Anthem on behalf of the U.S..

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Te Waka Huia from New Zealand. Photo: Nancy Birnbaum, © 2013

Additional performances were from Misa Malone, from the cast of Beach Blanket Babylon, who sang “San Francisco,” and Nayah Damasen, an 8-year-old from San Jose, Calif., who sang the National Anthem. Representatives from the U.S. Coast Guard Color Guard and the United States Naval Sea Cadet Corps ushered in the American flag and the flags of Italy, New Zealand and Sweden.

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Team flags are presented.
Photo: Nancy Birnbaum, © 2013

The ceremony included a poignant tribute to Artemis racing team member Andrew “Bart” Simpson, who was killed in an accident when their AC72 flipped over during practice.

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Teams honor fellow-team member Andrew “Bart” Simpson.
Photo: Nancy Birnbaum © 2013

The park officially opened shortly after noon time with San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, Monique Moyer, Executive Director of the Port of San Francisco, Valérie Chapoulaud, the CEO of Louis Vuitton Americas, Charlotte Schultz, the Chief of Protocol for the city and county of San Francisco, and the ACEA’s Barclay, participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the entrance to the America’s Cup Park.

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Opening fanfare.
Photo: Nancy Birnbaum, © 2013

The AC72 Time Trials that were scheduled for today have been canceled due to strong winds this morning.

“At 9:00am the wind is over 20 knots on the race course area and the forecast is for it to increase as the day goes on,” said Principal Race Officer John Craig. “The right decision is to keep the AC72s out of the parade and time trials today to keep everyone in good shape for the first day of racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, on Sunday.”

The boat parade will continue as scheduled, including the replica of the yacht America, but there will no AC72s participating.

On race day afternoons throughout the Summer of Racing, the America’s Cup Pavilion stage will showcase local performing artists free to the public. The Opening Weekend features five local bands with the first of these performances on Friday, July 5, from 3:00 pm to 5:30 pm PT.

The headliner act is New Diplomat, an American Alternative – Electronic Rock band. Featuring members from around the world, the band formed in 2010 and has since gathered a significant following, blending a combination of alt rock, indie pop and electronic music.

The opening act is The Five Hundreds, a San Francisco-based classic rock band that plays a mix of well-crafted original songs and high-energy rock and roll covers.

For the complete program and race schedule, visit americascup.com.

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This weekend the countdown clock will mark two months to the start of the “Summer of Racing” in San Francisco. An Opening Ceremony is planned for July 4 and will be followed on July 5 by a special fleet race for all teams.

San Francisco (USA) - 34th America's Cup - ARTEMIS and ORACLE TEAM USA AC72 training in San Francisco Bay

San Francisco (USA) – 34th America’s Cup – ARTEMIS and ORACLE TEAM USA AC72 training in San Francisco Bay. Photo:Gilles Martin-Raget/AC34

Racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, officially begins on July 7 with a match between Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge of Italy. It continues on July 9 with Sweden’s Artemis Racing taking on the New Zealanders, and July 10 with Luna Rossa against Artemis Racing.

The Louis Vuitton Cup schedule is packed with action. Some highlights:

  • The Louis Vuitton Cup round robins are scheduled July 7-Aug. 4. Wins are worth 1 point
  • The Louis Vuitton Cup Semi Final, a best-of-seven series, is scheduled Aug. 6-14
  • The Louis Vuitton Cup Final, a best-of-13 series, is scheduled Aug. 17-30
  • Racing is scheduled on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • Start times for the round robins and semi finals are scheduled for 1:15 pm PT (Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays) or 2:15 pm PT (Wednesdays)
  • Mondays and Thursdays are scheduled reserve days
  • In the round robins and semi finals, one race is scheduled per day with a target elapsed time of one hour
  • In the Louis Vuitton Cup Final, two races are scheduled each day, each with a target elapsed time of 30 minutes
Boat 2 First Sail / SFO April Testing Session / ORACLE TEAM USA / San Francisco (USA) / 24-04-2013. Photo: Guilain GRENIER/AC34

Boat 2 First Sail / SFO April Testing Session / ORACLE TEAM USA / San Francisco (USA) / 24-04-2013.
Photo: Guilain GRENIER/AC34

The top team at the end of the round robins gets to choose whether it advances directly to the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals or races in the semi finals. With a break of 12 days in the offing, presumably the winner would choose to go to the final and let the other two teams continue slugging it out in the semis.

Throughout the Louis Vuitton Cup the defender, ORACLE TEAM USA, will also have access to the race course four days per week, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes sandwiched around the challengers’ racing.

The America’s Cup Finals are scheduled Sept. 7-21, with racing set for Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. The match is a best-of-17 series. Two races are planned each day, lasting approximately 30 minutes, and beginning at 1:10 pm PT and 2:10 pm PT. A break of approximately 30 minutes between races is mandated by the Protocol.

View the complete schedule for the “Summer of Racing”

From: Americascup.com

 

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There’s no other way to put it… watching ORACLE TEAM USA “fly” their AC72 on foils is simply breathtaking.

Come along for a test flight…

In other AC34 News…

Austrians Roman Hagara and Hans-Peter Steinacher, double Olympic Gold medalists in the Tornado catamaran, have entered the upcoming America’s Cup World Series Naples, scheduled Apr. 16-21.

The duo will sail under the banner HS Racing and race under the US flag in partnership with ORACLE TEAM USA.

HS Racing is one of nine crews entered in the regatta, which will also feature America’s Cup World Series leader ORACLE TEAM USA, second-placed Luna Rossa Piranha, third-placed Artemis Racing White, J.P. Morgan BAR, Energy Team, Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa Swordfish and China Team.

Hagara and Steinacher were Gold medalists at the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympics. They are also the sports directors for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, scheduled Sept. 1-4 in San Francisco.

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© ACEA-2013 / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget

“It’s great to have Roman and Hans-Peter involved,” said ORACLE TEAM USA CEO Russell Coutts. “They aim to be serious competitors and this is a great platform to launch their America’s Cup aspirations.”

Familiar names are lining up for the final AC World Series event, with sailors such as Dean Barker of Emirates Team New Zealand, Francesco Bruni and Chris Draper of Luna Rossa, Yann Guichard of Energy Team and Tom Slingsby of ORACLE TEAM USA scheduled to compete. Sweden’s Artemis Racing will be helmed by 23-year-old Charlie Ekberg, Sweden’s top 49er sailor and skipper of Artemis Racing/Swedish Youth Challenge for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup. The Naples event will also feature the return of Mitch Booth to the helm of China Team, while Ben Ainslie will skipper his J.P. Morgan BAR team.

Team Korea, previously an America’s Cup World Series participant and Louis Vuitton Cup entrant, has withdrawn from further competition in the 34th America’s Cup. In a letter to the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the team indicated it has plans to enter the 35th America’s Cup.

Last year’s AC World Series Naples drew crowds estimated at 500,000, who were there in part to catch the debut of Luna Rossa Challenge 2013. Draper led his Luna Rossa Piranha crew to a thrilling win in the final fleet race. The victory kicked off celebrations among the tens of thousands of Italian America’s Cup fans lining the Naples waterfront to catch a glimpse of their heroes.

From Americascup.com.

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Organizers scale back plans

Organizers of sailing’s most prestigious event say they are dramatically scaling back plans to renovate San Francisco’s dilapidated waterfront.

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34th America's Cup - The America's Cup in San Francisco - Golden Gate Bridge

Following hours of pointed, dense and passionate discussions, a Board of Supervisors committee voted 2-1 to move the deal to a full board vote on Tuesday as organizers face looming construction deadlines to ready waterfront race facilities before qualifying matches begin in July 2013.

Exhibition races are set for August, progressing toward finals – the Mount Everest of sailing, as Oracle Racing skipper James Spithill described them – in September 2013.

According to an article on SFGate.com, some supervisors continue to have concerns about the final financing deal between the city and race organizers, a regatta group led by billionaire Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, that would provide long-term leases and development rights on port-owned waterfront property in exchange for at least $55 million in infrastructure work shoring up dilapidated piers the city can’t afford to fix.

The cornerstone of the deal remains giving the business arm of Ellison’s regatta group, the America’s Cup Event Authority, a 66-year, rent-free lease on Piers 30-32, a crumbling single, conjoined pier south of the Bay Bridge, and title to Seawall Lot 330 across the Embarcadero, in exchange for the group paying $55 million to stabilize the piers.

Mayor Ed Lee made the announcement Monday during a news conference at San Francisco’s Pier 80, where Ellison is building his space-age catamaran to defend the trophy he won in 2010 off the coast of Spain.

Ellison picked the San Francisco Bay as the location of the 34th race for the America’s Cup, scheduled for September 2013. The plan was for Ellison’s race team to spend $55 million on piers 30 and 32 in exchange for rent-free use of them for 66 years and title to a city-owned lot nearby.

Instead, all competitors will be housed at Pier 80, which Ellison has already spent a couple million dollars renovating. But the location is about two miles from the proposed “racing village” that is expected to serve as the event’s hub. Pier 80 will still be open to the public, but organizers concede that it may require a bus ride instead of a walk from the racing village to visit.

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San Francisco's Pier 80

Nonetheless, Lee and organizers insisted Monday that none of the 50 or so race days leading up to the final weekend of racing in September 2013 or the planned course around Alcatraz island in front of the city’s skyline will change. The racing village planned at Piers 27-29 along the heart of the city’s waterfront is continuing. The village will be converted into a cruise ship terminal after the America’s Cup events.

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Marina Green Rendering © 2012 Gilles Martin-Raget/www.americascup.com

Lee said the change was made after negotiators concluded they didn’t have enough time to solve the financial, environmental and regulatory issues necessary to refurbish the piers in time for the challengers to move in and convert to their headquarters. Training runs can begin on the Bay in July. The agreement was also criticized by some supervisors and others as too sweet of a deal for Ellison and the city budget analyst recommended San Francisco share some of the future revenues from the property.

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AC34 San Francisco Bay Race Course. © 2012 Gilles Martin-Raget / http://www.americascup.com.

Who will compete?

So far, three teams have formally entered the competition. Lead Ellison negotiator Stephen Barclay said he expects a few more teams to sign up before the June 1 deadline.

Monday’s announcement also postponed a final Board of Supervisors vote Tuesday on the financial agreement between the city and Ellison. No new date has been set for the board to consider a redrafted final agreement.

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Oracle training on San Francisco Bay. ©2012 Guilain GRENIER/www.americascup.com

Read the entire article: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/02/22/MN6H1NB6T8.DTL#ixzz1o0aGLmYs

NBC Sports Group Sets Sail for America’s Cup with New Deal

NBC Sports Group landed yet another key piece in its continued push to acquire more rights to live sports, signing a deal to carry the 34th America’s Cup from San Francisco on both NBC and the NBC Sports Network in 2013.

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The NBC Sports Group will present live coverage of the 34th America’s Cup on both NBC and the NBC Sports Network beginning on September 7, 2013 from the Cup’s host city of San Francisco. In the picture Jon Miller, President of Programming at the NBC Sports Group with Richard Worth, Chairman, America’s Cup Event Authority. Photo: ©2012 ACEA/www.americascup.com

The first two days of racing Sept. 7-8 will air on NBC, with the remaining races airing on NBC Sports Network. NBC’s coverage of the opening two days will mark the marquee yacht competition’s first appearance on network television since 1993, when ABC broadcast the opening race from San Diego. All others have been carried live on cable since 1983 (the first time an American yacht club failed to win the Cup in 132 years).

NBC Sports Group also acquired the rights to the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup, the America’s Cup Challenger Series, which determines the challenger for the America’s Cup Finals. NBC will also televise the final day of racing from three stops on the America’s Cup World Series this summer. NBC Sports Group is not paying a rights fee; rather, America’s Cup officials will acquire airtime and offer commercial time first to their own sponsors.

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Oracle Racing AC45 against Marin hills. Photo by Guilain Grenier

While out on the San Francisco Bay practicing for the 2013 America’s Cup, Russell Coutts and fellow Oracle team members James Spithill (AUS), Shannon Falcone, Tactician John Kostecki (USA), putting their two boats through their paces, Coutts showed off some acrobatics by flipping the AC45 wing-sailed catamaran over on it’s side.

In typical SF Bay wild winds and seastate, the capsize managed to cause some excitement for the spectators along the cityfront on Monday. With Coutts at the helm, and as the cat was bearing off in a pre-start, the AC45 pitchpoled at around 22 knots. They were able to right the boat after about 10 minutes with some damage occurring on the wingsail – where a hole was made in the fabric skin where Coutts fell through.

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Photo by Guilain Grenier

According to Oracle Racing.com, “We got caught in the pre-start at the wrong angle and paid the price,” said Coutts, who fell through the lower part of the front element of the wingsail. “The boats are spectacular, hard to sail. They’re gonna test the best sailors in the world. Luckily I had the crash helmet on.” During the incident crewman Shannon Falcone injured his ribs. “I didn’t think it was going to go all the way over.” Falcone walked under his own power to an ambulance waiting shoreside and was taken to the hospital for a precautionary X-ray. Though they came back negative, Falcone did suffer a dislocated rib cartilage and will have to mend.

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Damage to Wingsail. Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget

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Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget

Those bouncy trampolines between the hulls is usually were crew hang on when the boat goes over, but sometimes when the wingmast hits the water hard, they can be catapulted right off and into the water.

The AC45 demo sailing is part of a press buzz building up to Wednesday’s (June 15) announcement of the lineup of paid entries for the 2013 America’s Cup. Since the April announcement that SF Bay will host the 34th Cup, there have been 14 entries in addition to the Defender Oracle Racing including Emirates Team New Zealand and Swedish Artemis Racing Team who have become the new Challenger of Record. Other teams expected to race are the White Tiger from Korea, China Team, Energy Team from France and Italian Venezia Challenge. A surprise drop out is Italian Mascalzone Latino who were not able to raise the necessary $40 million to get to the start line in 2013.

All images courtesy of 34th America’s Cup, Oracle Racing and Gilles Martin-Raget and Guilain Grenier.

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2011-rolex_regatta_stthomasI learned most of what I know about sailing from the deck of an Ericson 36 that I raced with my Uncle George on the Chesapeake Bay. From the age of 10 to 13, I absorbed tactics and learned the ropes, usually from my tentative perch on the foredeck or the side rail. It wasn’t until I became an adult and moved clear across the country to The San Francisco Bay, that I discovered cruising, and it took more years of racing and day-sailing on the SF Bay before I finally cut the docklines free and set sail with no particular destination in mind.

And so it’s no wonder that while cruising is my passion, racing sailboats has always been my favorite sport. Later this week, I get to race with the “big boats” at the 38th Annual Rolex Regatta in St. Thomas, as the guest of Safe Passage Sailing, a company that let’s you charter racing yachts and participate as a member of a racing crew in some of the most renowned regattas in the world.

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The S/Y Northern Child

I’ll be covering the Rolex on Assignment (March 21-27) for Yachting Times Magazine, America’s first bi-lingual boating publication. From the St. Thomas YC, home of this world-class event as well as from the deck of both Kialoa V and Northern Child, I will bring you all the action and thrills of racing. I’m especially thrilled to join the all-women crew onboard Northern Child, a Swan 51 for what will surely be a day of great sailing and spectacular racing! At the helm – a world-class skipper and mentor, Suzette “Hau’oli” Smith.

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Racing Pro Suzette Smith

Suzette Smith is a seasoned licensed charter captain with a USCG Masters 100 ton and ASA certified instructor on boats 38’-70’+. In 2006 she was named ASA’s “Outstanding National Instructor of the Year.”

Ms Smith has participated in numerous high caliber sailing campaigns such as Team Pegasus, the first and only all-woman America’s Cup team, America 3, which raced in the 1995 America‘s Cup defenders series, as well as other notable regattas around the world.

It is without a doubt that I am both honored and extremely excited to have the opportunity to race with Hau’oli in this renowned regatta. My sincere thanks to Randee Fowler of Safe Passage Sailing and Dolores Barciela, Publisher of Yachting Times Magazine (YTM) for making this all possible!

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YTM_cvr_aut2010“Stay Tuned” for more blogs from St Thomas and don’t forget to check out YTM online at http://yachtingtimesmagazine.com where you can view e-Mag versions of this beautiful magazine!

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