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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Only 35 Days to Cutting Edge America’s Cup

The first competition of the new multihull America’s Cup era begins with the inaugural America’s Cup World Series in Cascais, Portugal, on August 6.
Photo: © ACEA (2011) / Photo Gilles Martin-Raget
Nine teams from eight different countries will race identical AC45 wing-sailed catamarans directly off the coast. Designed for extreme speed, the AC45 has proven to be a handful in strong conditions, which predict a strenuous, physical event in windy Cascais.

For the first time, teams entered in the 34th America’s Cup will compete together, including the current champions, ORACLE Racing of the United States.

Among the teams will be newcomers in the America’s Cup’s 160 year history; Team Korea’s White Tiger Challenge, Italy’s Venezia Challenge, Sweden’s Artemis Racing, Spain’s Green Comm Racing and French competitors Aleph and Energy Team.

They join the 1995 and 2000 America’s Cup winner Emirates Team New Zealand, the 2007 debutant China Team, as well as the American defender.

The line-up includes some of the best sailors in the world, including the trans-ocean legends Loick Peyron and Alain Gautier, who will test their skills against inshore racing World Champions, Olympic medalists and past America's Cup winners aboard the action-intensive AC45s.

The most successful America’s Cup skipper in the long history of the event, Russell Coutts, will skipper one of the 10 boats. The CEO of the defending America’s Cup champions, ORACLE Racing, Coutts is learning fast about the fine line between full-throttle performance and total wipe-out following a spectacular capsize on San Francisco Bay.

“The spectacular speeds of the boats and the tight angles we sail often put us on the edge,” Coutts said. “Some of us are learning the hard way as to where the edge is. But all of this makes for the most dynamic racing possible in sailing. “

Monohulls have been superseded by fast catamarans capable of non-street-legal speeds of 30 knots – the equivalent to 36 mph or 55 kph.

Racing will take place within meters of shore side spectators on the River Tagus waterfront at Cascais, including the action-intensive 10 boat fleet racing.

Among the innovations included in the America’s Cup World Series will be a no-limits speed trial to open the event on August 6. Individual crews will aim for the maximum velocity.

Racing includes both fleet (all boats) and match (pairs of boats) format, with the AC World Series – Cascais the first opportunity for teams to put points on the board for the inaugural and sure to be hotly-contested AC World Series season championship.

The stars of the America’s Cup World Series are the 10 teams and their international crews on this new global championship circuit that precedes the 34th America’s Cup, two years from now.

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