Conditions for the opening days of the America's Cup World Series - Plymouth are forecast to be at the upper limit for racing, promising thrills and spills when the action starts on Saturday afternoon.
Winds are forecast between 20-30 knots, which may push the race crews out of their comfort zone on the wing-sailed, AC45 catamarans.
On Friday morning, the nine skippers faced the media in the opening press conference, where the intensity of the racing was a frequent topic of conversation. The America's Cup World Series in Plymouth will put many of the world's best sailors together on short, challenging race courses designed to provoke close-action, near the shore. Spectators will be able to see all of the competition from the elevated vantage point of the Plymouth Hoe.
"I think if we get some good breeze it will make for some pretty exciting racing,
" said Emirates Team New Zealan
d skipper Dean Barker. "It's demanding on the guys and the excitement factor goes up quickly towards the top end (of the wind range)... On these boats, you go pretty quickly from racing to survival and I'm sure if we get the strong winds there will be plenty of good action."
James Spithill, ORACLE Racing Spithill, added, "The exciting thing about these boats downwind is that there are a lot of passing lanes and you have to sail very well when you're in the lead. It's tough out there. But the great thing is that we're seeing passing and in the past we haven't seen anything like the amount of passing we're seeing already."
Racing is scheduled to start on Saturday, September 10, in the Plymouth AC Preliminaries at 1410 local time (GMT+1) with three fleet races in the program as well as the Plymouth AC500 Speed Trial. Sunday has one longer fleet race. Following two off days, racing resumes on Wednesday through Sunday September 18.
The America's Cup World Series brings the focus of the sailing world to Plymouth for nine days. The Leader of the Plymouth Council, Councillor Vivien Pengelly, said, "We are delighted to be hosting such a fabulous event and the whole city is buzzing with excitement. For the city, the economic benefits of hosting the World Series could run into millions at a time when our businesses will welcome the boost."
Current leaderboard for the 2011-2012 AC World Series:
1. Emirates Team New Zealand
(NZL), skipper Dean Barker
2. Artemis Racing (SWE), skipper Terry Hutchinson
3. ORACLE Racing Spithill (USA), skipper James Spithill
4. ORACLE Racing Coutts (USA), skipper Russell Coutts
5. Green Comm Racing (ESP), skipper Vasilij Zbogar
6. Aleph (FRA), skipper Bertrand Pacé
7. Team Korea (KOR), skipper Chris Draper
8. Energy Team (FRA), skipper Loïck Peyron
9. China Team (CHN), skipper Charlie Ogletree