On Scene with Bill Wilson Action on the Bay

The America’s Cup World Series opened in San Francisco on Wednesday afternoon with a trio of Match Racing Qualifiers. Six teams were competing for the three final spots in the Quarterfinals in the first racing of the 34th America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay.

The conditions were slightly lighter than what the teams had come to expect on the Bay over the past week when five crews capsized during training sessions. In contrast, today’s West-southwesterly winds of 14-17 knots, with tricky currents to navigate, provided more of a tactical test for the teams.

A large weekday crowd lined the shoreline of the AC Village at the Marina Green to take in the action – the boats at times just yards from the coast – eager to see America’s Cup racing on the Bay for the first time.

It was a good day for Luna Rossa. Both Max Sirena’s Swordfish and Chris Draper’s Piranha crews won their matches 2-0 over China Team and Artemis Racing Red, respectively.

“We had a tricky one against Santiago Lange and the Artemis team,” said Piranha skipper Chris Draper. “We knew they’d be pretty strong. But the guys made some good reads on the wind shifts to get us in front.”

Ben Ainslie’s J.P. Morgan team also made a successful debut on the circuit, sweeping past Team Korea.

“We certainly have a lot to learn,” Ainslie said. “We had a few issues, but the guys did some amazing work to get us around the course. We had to overtake (in both races) and I think we had a penalty call go against them that helped us in the second race, but the guys did a fantastic job.”

Team Korea’s gold medal winning skipper, Nathan Outteridge, felt particularly frustrated in his match against J.P. Morgan BAR, after seeing early leads in both races overturned.

“We started well in the first one and then just made one error which gave them the chance they needed,” Outteridge said. “Then in the second race, we seemed to be getting penalties for no apparent reason… (and) we basically had to let him go past… We’re a bit confused about what happened to be honest.”

Due to the penalty situation, the team asked Regatta Director Iain Murray to consider overturning the result and having the race re-sailed. But after consulting the Jury, Murray said the results on the water will stand, as the Rules do not allow for redress.

Racing will continue from 2 -4 daily Thursday through Saturday with the final races on Sunday at 11.


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