AC45 Action in San Diego

Sunset in the basin where the AC45 boats prepare for action. Photo: Mike Ferring

A cluster of AYC members headed for San Diego for the AC45 World Series action, and were rewarded with some great action in the “stadium-style” competition.

The boats are amazing to see in person, dominated by that tall wing main sail. “As an aeronautics guy, I love those wings,” Steve Kusic shouted over the post-race rock band at the America’s Cup village. “They’re just fascinating.”

Steve and Greg Bennett came in Thursday, just as Chris and Ann Smith, Mike and Maryellen Ferring were getting ready to fly back to Phoenix. Bob Whyte had made the round trip on Wednesday. Tia Renshaw and Mike Yarnell were there. So was Norm Anderson. Were you there too?

The races are short and intense, with the fast but somewhat clumsy boats chasing across the San Diego waterfront, usually heading upwind toward Harbor Island (except on Friday’s and Sunday’s uncharacteristic shift) and then back to a finish just off the aircraft carrier Midway at Broadway Pier. Civilian boats are kept at a distance, so watching from the piers got spectators closest to the action while also giving them a feed of the audio commentary. Farther down the harbor it was still possible to see the windward roundings, but without a commentary, it was very difficult to know what was happening.

Speed under sail. Photo: Mike Ferring

Some of us opted for the VIP boat, which combined a great viewing position with excellent food and wine. Of course, the free spot on the pier was hard to beat. And all the AC45 races are carried live on the Internet, with superb coverage from dozens of cameras on the race boats, chase boats, and two helicopters.

It’s all designed to whet our appetite for the 72 footers to come on San Francisco bay in 2013. I’d say it did a very good job of that.