Competitors heading for the start line (photo by Rich Wells)
We’re back from the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) and there’s so much to report. We spent five days aboard Crusader, our 38′ Catalina in San Diego, with Rich, Brandi, Barb, and Earl. As I previously reported we were one of only twelve boats marking course boundaries. Each day we were assigned a different position and on most days we were close enough to see AC crews hard at work beating, reaching, running, rounding marks, passing other boats, being passed, and eventually winning and losing.
The 6' x 16' flag that now hangs in our shop (photo by Rich Wells)
We arrived at our positions each morning at around 11:45. We were given a gigantic 6′ x 16′ grey America’s Cup flag that we hoisted up our backstay with our main halyard. (This flag now proudly hangs from the north wall of our shop.) As spectators approached the course we would politely ask them to stay behind us. Not a single spectator argued or became hostile. In fact most spectators were friendly and gracious.
For much of the time our closest neighbor and spectator was Larry Ellison, the owner of Team Oracle. He was on his sailing yacht that we all guessed was well over 100′ in length. My crew continually suggested that we drop by their vessel and ask to borrow some “Grey Poupon”. I resisted the temptation.
We watched as Sweden, New Zealand, Korea, China, Spain, France, and the U.S. competed in various events, including match races, fleet races, and time trials. When competitors weren’t involved in a particular event they would sail right up to boats like ours, on the course boundary, just for practice and probably to have some fun. In fact, one of these awesome 45′ catamarans sailed up to a spectator boat and lifted one of his hulls right over the deck of that boat. It was crazy!
Jimmy Spithill flying a hull (photo by Rich Wells)
For more of Rich Wells’ awesome pictures you can click on this link. As you can see from Rich’s photos, there were times when these boats sailed within a few yards from Crusader.
Team Oracle Coutts - Less than ten yards from us (photo by Rich Wells)
Since we didn’t need to be on the course until midday we were able to eat breakfast and get some exercise each day before heading for the race course. On Saturday morning Cathy and I were running along the waterfront when I saw someone I recognized. After saying good morning and asking about his plans for the day I invited Peter Harken (Founder and President of Harken, Inc.) to join us for the day’s activities. As you can see in the photo below Peter and his friend Edit spent the afternoon aboard Crusader. You’ll notice that I look particularly entranced. Rich took this photo as Peter described the series of events that led to his inventing the first ball bearing marine block. Wow!
We learn about the birth of Harken ball bearing blocks from Peter Harken (photo by Rich Wells)
Being on the course boundary was an amazing experience. But it was made even sweeter by the fact that the U.S. team, Oracle Racing Spithill, won both the Match Racing and Fleet Racing Championships. A detailed description of these victories can be found on the ACWS website.
We ran past the AC Harbor each day for added inspiration.