Ideal racing conditions returned to San Diego on Sunday, with 6-10 knot westerlies and bright sunny skies. Crowds poured into the America’s Cup Village to watch the racing which at time brought the boats just a few yards from the viewing points along Broadway and Navy Piers.
Emirates Team New Zealand may have been the last crew to arrive in town on Friday and skipper Dean Barker had never sailed in San Diego ahead of Saturday’s first race. But his team didn’t miss a beat, winning the Port Cities Challenge on this opening preliminary weekend of the America’s Cup World Series.
“The teams are doing more and more sailing, so the standard is getting higher and higher,” said Dean Barker. “I think in a venue like this that’s quite tricky you’ll see a lot of place changes. So it’s going to be about staying consistent.”
The Kiwis were certainly that. Despite winning just one of the six races, they had five finishes in the top three to win by a comfortable seven points over ORACLE Racing Spithill. Artemis Racing was third, one point further back
On Saturday, China Team won a race for the first time at AC World Series and on Sunday it was the French teams in the spotlight. First it was Aleph with new skipper Pierre Pennec at the helm, who took a win in race four. But not to be outdone, Energy Team sailed a flawless race six with skipper Yann Guichard to claim their first team win.
“It’s a fantastic day for Aleph,” said Pennec after racing. “The wind was very shifty, but it was sunny, there was enough wind to fly the hull and we won our first race so a great day for us.”
“By the fourth race the crew was very tired,” said Guichard, describing his winning race. “But we didn’t make any mistakes and to get a first bullet for our team is really perfect.”
Representatives of the five Port Cities – San Diego, National City, Coronado, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista – were onboard the race boats during the first contest of the day. Coast Guard Commander Michael Leo Guerrero won bragging rights for the Port City of Chula Vista on ORACLE Racing Spithill, racing to a second place finish ahead of the other boats representing Port Cities, to claim the ‘fastest Port City’ designation.
“It was awesome, just great,” said Commander Guerrero, who was representing Chula Vista for Mayor Cheryl Cox. “The boats are phenomenal, and to go that fast, is really amazing. We hear a lot about the technology that’s behind these boats, and now I can say I’ve seen it in action.”