For friends of China's official America's Cup sailing team
Spending some time in San Francisco during the opening LV Cup matches was interesting, if a little sad. WIth only three teams competing and four needed for the semi-finals these so-called qualifying races, originally expecting 12 teams, hold little interest as everyone automatically goes through to the final round. One of the three remaining teams, of course, is Challenger of Record: Artemis who tragically lost team-member Andrew Simpson in the accident in May, and whose boat was still under repair while I was there. This resulted in "races" where one of the boats was "unopposed". This PR spin was meant to encourage the few spectators present to enjoy the spectacle of a single boat out on the race track essentially doing a practice time trial.
Still, the boats themselves are impressive, 72 foot catamarans, flying on foils with both hulls out of the water. With boat speeds far exceeding true windspeed, apparent wind is always on a forward quarter, allowing "gybes" with little sail movement and without ever dropping off the foils. At least if your are Team NZ or Oracle, the only two teams that seem to manage this so far. Luna Rossa's inability to achieve this feat means that every real race we saw (always Luna Rossa against Team NZ since Artemis weren't yet back in the water) results in a clear runaway win for TeamNZ, and NZ currently seem likely to be the contender for the America's Cup itself. If anyone still cares.
Audience reaction was mostly about enjoying the sun and the hospitality. Maybe things will hot up for the Cup itself. Of course the NZ government still cares - they are helping fund this last ditch effort to bring the AC and its various revenue streams back to Auckland. But crowd reaction along the Embarcadero was low key with the only people paying any attention to the boats out on the water being local families out for a walk along the piers.
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