With over 100 local junior sailors in the audience, ORACLE TEAM USA's Jimmy Spithill and Emirates Team New Zealand's Dean Barker both declared their intention to leave Newport with the inaugural AC World Series trophy in hand.
And while Terry Hutchinson's Artemis Racing still has a mathematical chance of playing the spoiler, most are looking at this as a two horse race for the title between Spithill and Barker.
Spithill's ORACLE TEAM USA is in pole position with a narrow four-point advantage entering the regatta. But with 10 points available to the winner of each discipline here - match racing and fleet racing - that lead can disappear quickly.
"This is why we're in the World Series, to be in regatta pressure and put ourselves on the line,"
said Spithill. "I'd rather go in to the final event four points clear than the other way, but it's extremely close. The best thing is it will be decided on the water, and it will be decided on Sunday."
Barker answered when asked if winning was the goal for his team. "We still think we have a very good chance. We need to put together a good result in the Match Racing Championship which will set up the opportunity to take the overall title. Then it comes down to how well we fleet race. I think we have as good a chance as anyone."
Artemis Racing could easily have made this a three-team fight for the overall title, were it not for the fleet racing. The Swedish challenger leads the match race standings for the season, but sits in fourth place in fleet racing, something skipper Terry Hutchinson attributes to inconsistent starts, "It really doesn't come down to anything but I haven't started the boat well throughout the series,"
explained Hutchinson. "It's been a bit of an Achilles' heel for us and it's on me to make it better."
Championship Racing in the AC World Series Newport is from 28 June to 1 July with the grand finale on Sunday to be broadcast live on NBC across the United States beginning at 14:30 EDT. All four days of racing can be seen worldwide on www.youtube.com/americascup
(subject to territorial broadcast agreements).
The teams have two days of official practice racing on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon before racing starts on June 28 at 12:00 EDT.
During Tuesday's practice session, Emirates Team New Zealand had a collision with one of the mark boats in gusty conditions late in the afternoon. The initial assessment is that both boats suffered minor damage, with nothing serious enough to keep the Kiwis from racing on Thursday.
2011-12 AC World Series Overall Championship Leaderboard (after five of six events)
1. ORACLE TEAM USA Spithill…84 points
2. Emirates Team New Zealand…80 points
3. Artemis Racing…71 points
4. Energy Team…65 points
5. Team Korea…56 points
6. ORACLE TEAM USA Coutts…53 points
7. Luna Rossa Piranha…34 points
8. China Team…31 points
9. Luna Rossa Swordfish…21 points