Racing the Hudson: The Big Race Arrives in the Big Apple

Author:
Publish date:
The Louis Vuitton Cup race village setup at North Cove Marina in Manhattan’s Financial District.

The Louis Vuitton Cup race village setup at North Cove Marina in Manhattan’s Financial District.

It was a cloudy day in lower Manhattan as race fans, members of the media, event organizers and the America’s Cup sailors themselves gathered at Brookfield Place, across the street from the truly impressive One World Trade Plaza and the 9/11 Memorial, on the banks of the Hudson River. As the crowd settled down and the activities got underway, NBC Sports’ Bob Costas took the stage. “Now let’s welcome back to New York the oldest trophy in competitive sport, the America’s Cup,” Costas said as a white gloved man appeared at the top of the stage.

Fred Dickson, president and CEO of NYC and Co., was next up, welcoming the crowd on behalf of the city. “We’re thrilled to welcome the America’s Cup back to New York City for the first time in 96 years,” Dickson said. “Let’s hope it isn’t another 96 years before it comes back, let’s not forget that this trophy was basically nailed down in the New York Yacht Club.”

Bob Costas welcomes the crowd to the press conference.

Bob Costas welcomes the crowd to the press conference.

After a few other dignitaries and representatives gave their welcoming speeches, the real stars of the show, the skippers, took the stage: Nathan Outteridge from Artemis Racing, Sir Ben Ainslie from team Land Rover Bar, Glenn Ashby from Emirates Team New Zealand, Frank Cammas from Groupama Team France, Dean Barker from the newly formed SoftBank Team Japan and, of course the star of the show, Jimmy Spithill from Oracle Team USA.

“Jimmy, lets start with you,” Costas started out, “what do you think of sailing here in New York?”

“I don’t think you can get a better stadium than the Hudson river and what you’ve got right in front with the Manhattan skyline,” Spithill said of the course. “You’ve got some great ballparks and studios in this city, but one you’ve got that you haven’t noticed is this one right here. And it’s free.”

The skippers panel, from left: Nathan Outteridge from Artemis Racing, Sir Ben Ainslie from team Land Rover Bar, Jimmy Spithill from Oracle Team USA, Dean Barker from SoftBank Team Japan, Bob Costas from NBC Sports, Glenn Ashby from Emirates Team New Zealand and Frank Cammas from Groupama Team

The skippers panel, from left: Nathan Outteridge from Artemis Racing, Sir Ben Ainslie from team Land Rover Bar, Jimmy Spithill from Oracle Team USA, Dean Barker from SoftBank Team Japan, Bob Costas from NBC Sports, Glenn Ashby from Emirates Team New Zealand and Frank Cammas from Groupama Team

While the course is certainly a spectacular one in terms of scenery, surrounded by the Manhattan skyline on one side of you, the buildings of Jersey City on the other, the bridges of and the Statue of Liberty—the Hudson river has its own share of difficulties. “The wind is pretty good right now running down the river, but If we get the wind coming between the skyscrapers it is going to be a bit of a minefield out there,” Spithill said. “But everyone is in for the same thing, no one has an advantage.”

Another issue that the teams will be facing are the conditions of the notoriously polluted Hudson river. One spectator asked the skippers how they planned to account for plastic bags and other debris that might be found in the water. “They’re going to clean up the Hudson the same way they’ll clean up Rio,” Costas chimed in. “Don’t worry about it, it’ll all be fine.”

Oracle sits at rest in North Cover Marina

Oracle sits at rest in North Cover Marina

“It is certainly going to be an issue,” said Sir Ben Ainslie. “People joke about the conditions of Rio for sailing, but really the racing environment that we’re in, we need to clean it up and try to take responsibility.”

Changing to a more lighthearted note, the final question came up—how would the skippers celebrate if they win, given that they're in New York?

“With lots of wine and cheese,” was the response from Groupama Team France’s Frank Cammas.

“It’s certainly a plus coming to New York if you want to party and have fun,” said Spithill. “So if we’re fortunate enough to win we’re going out with a bang, celebrate really … heavily … and possibly miss our flight.”

All in all, if the weather holds, it should be one hell of a weekend racing on the Hudson.

Photos by Christopher White

May 2016

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more