Details on the 2013 America’s Cup Finals are still elusive, but a newly released course diagram eliminates most of the guesswork. The reaching starts that trialed in AC45s in the America’s Cup World Series will be the new standard. With courses laid in San Francisco Bay close to bleachers set along the San Francisco waterfront, there will be a starting area not far from the Golden Gate Bridge. The starboard-tack reach that kicks off each race will be measured in seconds, not minutes, and will be followed by a port rounding and a turn downwind for leg two.
Beyond that, the race committee has a number of windward-leeward options, all finishing on a reaching leg at the bottom of the course. The finish line will be established close to the America’s Cup Village in the shadow of Telegraph Hill.
John Craig, principal race officer for America’s Cup Race Management, can plan with confidence, because San Francisco Bay has a westerly sea breeze that blows almost every day in the summertime. Even when a high takes over and spins out a heated easterly from the land, the large and effective Venturi tube that is the Golden Gate will almost always generate a local sea breeze, blowing the other direction, before the afternoon is out.
Course marks won’t be inflatable buoys, but camera-carrying boats built and equipped to hold a GPS-defined position. They can also be quickly repositioned if it’s necessary to shorten or lengthen the course to meet a television broadcast schedule. The racing is very much made-for-TV. But if it works, and we can go a generation or more without seeing Cup competition again dragged into court, then AC 2013 will be remembered as a game changer, and Oracle Racing owner Larry Ellison will have his legacy.
Courses for the 2012 World Series racing in August will be similar but more compact and will finish closer to their starting point. Although it is not part of the published agenda, SAIL has reason to believe a weather mark set beyond the Golden Gate Bridge is still in the cards for 2012 and 2013, subject to sea state.
Finally, while Cup insiders have long known that NBC was the Cup’s likely—and critical—media partner, it is now official. According to the deal, NBC will air segments of AC45 racing in 2012, followed by the first two days of the finals regatta, which will be broadcast nationally September 7-8, 2013. The remaining races will then air on NBC Sports Network.
How far is the Defender willing to go to bring the America’s Cup to America? NBC not only got the rights for free, but the America’s Cup Event Authority is paying for the airtime.