After two days of incredible racing at the America’s Cup Jubilee, the pace slowed on Wednesday, as hot, hazy weather was the order of the day.
Sullen skies and an almost total lack of breeze forced a delay in racing and when it did start, competitors had to contend with the biggest and fastest tidal currents of the year. The resulting light wind meant that only the America's Cup Class and the 12-Metre Grand Prix division completed races.
It was a Down Under day at the Prada 12-Meter World Championships as Kiwi Russell Coutts and his mixed Swiss/Kiwi crew aboard South Australia, beat John Bertrand and his Aussies on Australia II in the Grand Prix Class, with young New Zealander Cameron Appleton and the Team New Zealand contingent aboard Kiwi Magic finishing third. Coutts and his Swiss Alinghi Challenge shipmates sailed their 12-Metre South Australia around the course in first place, pursued but never caught by Bertrand and the Aussie veterans on Australia II.
The Grand Prix boats barely weathered the tidal trap waiting for them at the leeward mark but were able to get around the mark, harden up on port tack and then drift sideways in the tide for over a mile until they got out of the worst of the current on the Isle of Wight shore. Coutts leads on points after three races, with a low-point score of 4. Appleton is second with 8 and Bertrand is third with 11.
For the America's Cup Class fleet, the first order of business was a posting from the International Jury announcing that Prada's Luna Rossa had been disqualified from the Race Around the Island. This won't affect standings on the points table, as that race isn't scored on the overall results. On the water, the same light wind conditions meant that the one race achieved on a shortened course turned into an endurance contest. Luna Rossa led off the starting line, and went up the right side of the course with the majority of the fleet.
The Italians started tacking to weather of their nearest competitor, the GBR Challenge's GBR-52, and we're able to extend their lead around the track. Team New Zealand and GBR-41 went way out to the left, and were over 30-minutes behind the leaders at the top mark. At the finishing line, Luna Rossa scored a 3:42 win over GBR-52, with America3 a further three minutes behind. The America's Cup Class will complete the fleet racing section of their programme on Thursday morning, and the top four on the points table will carry on with a match racing series in the afternoon.
Wednesday evening, the social highlight of the week takes place with the Moet et Chandon America's Cup Jubilee Ball. The cream of America's Cup society will gather at Osborne House, Queen Victoria's favourite summer residence for a gala celebration of the America's Cup. Moet et Chandon will present an Esprit du Siecle magnum of champagne to Team New Zealand in honour of their victory in the 2000 America's Cup. Then, Phillips Auctioneers will auction off The America's Cup Collection, a 31-bottle set of Hennessy Cognac. For each of the 31 years of America's Cup competition, there is an eaux-de-vie hidden within the extensive Hennessy cellars. Proceeds from the sale of Hennessy's America's Cup Jubilee collection will go in aid of the Royal National Lifeboat Association.