by Kimball Livingston

All on assignment, Kimball Livingston has sailed the oceans blue. And he's been to Fink, Texas, too.

The teams, the boats, the venue and the racecourse: everything you need to know about the 34th America's Cup in one info-packed story. PLUS download a printable PDF of our entire Cup feature section from the July issue of SAIL. 
To sail a 72-foot foiling catamaran around the course in AC34, the competitors will have to attack, attack, attack. And we’re not talking about attacking the opponent. It’s about attacking the course.
It wasn’t supposed to happen this way. First the Kiwis and then the three other America’s Cup teams have all hit the water with daggerboards we might as well call hydrofoils, which lift their boats’ hulls clean out of the water on downwind legs, dramatically lowering resistance and increasing speed. But the AC72 rule was specifically intended to prevent that. Read my lips: No trimmable winglets.   
Ronnie Simpson sold all that he had, and he went. But it was no cakewalk. After I had known him a while, he told me, “I have less than I’ve ever had, and I’m happier than I’ve ever been.”
According to Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton, April is the month for ETNZ and training partner Luna Rossa to pack up “cats, chase boats, base structures, workshops, offices, gym, kitchens and stores for the move to San Francisco.”
Never before has the red-hot favored team to win the next America’s Cup been in such a dicey predicament. Some claim that Emirates Team New Zealand has already won the Cup in the design department, but even if that proves true, it makes the team no less vulnerable to the fortunes of war.  
There was a time when getting your hands on the wheel of a U.S. America’s Cup boat was almost the same as saying, yes, I’ve won a Star Class world championship. Think Bill “Ficker Is Quicker” Ficker, Dennis Conner, Tom Blackaller, Buddy Melges. 
Russell Coutts was over the moon. The first America’s Cup World Series had just wrapped up on San Francisco Bay, right where the 34th America’s Cup match will be contested in 2013.
San Francisco Bay sailors are accustomed to having the big professional round-the-world races pass them by some 93 degrees of latitude to the south. A diversion to the Golden Gate makes no sense.
How long does it take to get addicted to speed? Not long, aboard the foiling trimaran, l’Hydroptère DCNS. The big, French “water wing” holds the nautical-mile record at 50.17 knots and now has its sights set on a Los Angeles-Honolulu record.
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