A crowd estimated in excess of 75,000 spectators lined the shoreline of Battery Park City throughout the course of the day on Saturday to watch the return of America’s Cup racing to New York for the first time in nearly 100 years.
The America’s Cup teams worked overtime to reward them and with the window for racing about to close, conditions began to improve and allowed the teams to put on a late show.
After racing on Saturday, ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill noted how the “entire foreshore was packed from Tribeca down to Battery Park City. This is the largest crowd I’ve ever seen at a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series regatta and I hope they come back tomorrow. Tomorrow’s the day. It’s going to be windy and these boats are going to be right on the edge. The conditions are setting up to be epic.”
Regatta Director Iain Murray postponed Saturday’s regular racing at 3:20 pm ET when the predicted southeasterly wind failed to materialize on time. The teams bring the athletes and equipment, but Mother Nature determines the playing conditions and today she held out until the last minute.
But Murray was eventually able to bank a “substitute race” during an extended race window to the delight of the fans on site.
Dean Barker led SoftBank Team Japan to its first victory at a Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series regatta in the substitute contest. Should racing be postponed today, the “substitute race” will slot in and count on the leaderboard.
“It was great we were able to get a race after waiting patiently all day,” said Barker. “The upwind leg was very short because we were sailing with the current and the downwind leg was long because we were sailing into it. The wind wasn’t strong enough to fly a hull, but all in all it was quite a good race.”
Earlier on Saturday, Murray had attempted to start racing on three different occasions, but the light wind conditions, less than 5 knots, coupled with a strong southerly flowing current prevented each opportunity.
“Today was a tricky day because we were waiting for the wind to swing around to the southeast,” explained Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby on Saturday. “It did later in the day but only after the window for regular racing had expired.”
Based on Sunday’s forecast for “epic” conditions, the substitute race is unlikely to be included in the overall standings. Blustery northwest winds between 17 and 24 knots are expected to build in the wake of a cold front scheduled to pass over the region this morning.
Three races are planned beginning at 2:00 pm. Each race will be a double-points race, meaning 1st place earns 20 points, 2nd place 18 points, 3rd place 16 points and so on.
The upper wind limit is 25 knots over a 5-minute average, but that shouldn’t be a factor.
“Some locations are trickier to get racing than others,” Ashby said. “Seeing the amount of people on the edge of the water, there’s obviously plenty of interest in the sport. If we get the wind we have in the forecast, we’ll really be able to show what the boats can do.”
Super Sunday is on tap with three races scheduled with each scored double points. Racing begins at 2 pm ET. Viewers in the United States can watch live on NBCSN and NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA. For complete broadcast info, click HERE.