San Francisco again hosted the America's Cup Oct. 4-7 during the annual Fleet Week. As promised, the weather was gorgeous with warm sunny days and a clear blue sky. With the Golden Gate Bridge on one side, and the Bay Bridge on the other side with Alcatraz and Angel Island in between, the race course is spectacular indeed. As Oracle Racing Team Owner Larry Ellison said, "The San Francisco Bay is the most spectacular natural amphitheater for sailing!" The U.S. Coast Guard estimated more than 40,000 spectators on shoreline along America's Cup Village and more than 1,000 vessels watching on the Bay on just Sunday alone for the final match and Blue Angel Fleet Week air show.
Most spectacular performance award definitely goes to Oracle Team Spithill. It capsized at the start of the First Fleet Race on Saturday and was forced out of the race ( watch this video of how they overcame a spectacular capsize ). An hour later, the team came back to win the second place at the Second Fleet Race and won the Match Racing Championship over Team New Zealand by 18 seconds, despite of damaged frames in the wingsail during the capsizing. Then the team went on to win the final Fleet Match on Sunday to become winner of the America’s Cup World Series San Francisco Championship for the second time.
Skipper Jimmy Spithill and crew Dirk de Ridder, John Kostecki, Jono MacBeth and Joe Newton were amazingly resilient, and the supporting staff were efficiently quick to pull the boat up-right and rescued a crew member fell off the boat from the Bay. Miraculously, several other boats were just yards away and none collided with the capsized Team Spithill.
The final score for the week is Spithill and JP Morgan Ben Ainslie Racing tied for 79 points. Armed with a newly earned Olympic sailing gold medal in London, Ainslie is the newest team joined America's Cup race. It didn’t take him much practice to get to the top. Spithill won the championship based on the final race finishes.
“We’ve always said we need to be able to come from behind and overcome adversity,” said Spithill, who skippered the team to victory in the 2010 America’s Cup in Valencia. “I thought I gave them that yesterday with the capsize, but it's really a sign of a strong team. The shore crew, our coaches, it's been a fantastic team effort.”
Artemis Racing – White (Terry Hutchinson) finished third overall. Emirates Team New Zealand (Dean Barker) placed fourth overall and Oracle Team USA Coutts fifth.
This concluded the last World Series in San Francisco. The America's Cup returns to San Francisco July 4- September 1, 2013 with the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series and the September 7-22 America's Cup Finals. For information, go to www.AmericasCup.com
"Special thanks to Laurent du Roure for tour of AC-72 at Oracle Team USA Pier 80 facility and Oracle Innovation Lounge; Christine Belanger for the Louis Vuitton mark boat and Omega/Team New Zealand for the chase boat and hang out at the team base. Seth Semilof and I appreciate your invitation and gracious hospitality. And a huge thank you to Jimmy Spithill for the inspiration to overcome adversity!"
Photos courtesy of ACEA/Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget; Olivia Hsu Decker; and Cindy Shelton.