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Air out of sails: Day 1, America’s Cup World Series Chicago

Sean D. Tucker flies in the two-seat Oracle Extra airplane over downtown Chicago skyline, Wednesday, June 8, 2016. Tucker will perform before the start of of the America's Cup World Series racing on Saturday and Sunday. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato)

What the the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago?

When Jim Cornelison overdoing the National Anthem is the biggest blow of Day 1 of ACWS Saturday, the first America’s Cup venue on freshwater has issues.

Bring on freshening winds.

With light winds from the west, falling within the “wind shadow’’ of Chicago’s downtown skyscapers, only a late provisional race sailed. Light winds from the west were the one fear course designer Iain Murray had beforehand.

For racing to begin, wind needed to be at least 5 knots within the race area. That did not happen until later.

Crowds waited out the lack of wind long enough to watch a provisional race Saturday in the America's Cup World Series at Navy Pier. Credit: Dale Bowman

Crowds waited out the lack of wind long enough to watch a provisional race Saturday in the America’s Cup World Series at Navy Pier.
Credit: Dale Bowman

So the thousands of spectators packed on the east end of Navy Pier and the thousands more on hundreds of boats outside the perimeter of the race area–a line east from the Jardine Water Purification Plant to the breakwall then west to Monroe Harbor–waited and baked in 90-degree-plus sun.

With no official races Saturday, a provisional race sailed Friday counted as Race 1.
SoftBank Team Japan won Friday’s provisional race in 15 minutes, 30 seconds for 10 points. Emirates Team New Zealand now leads Oracle Team USA, 251-241. Japan, is fourth with 213. The 35th America’s Cup is in June 2017 on the Great Sound of Bermuda.

While glad for Japan’s victory, skipper Dean Barker said, “Hopefully, there are three races tomorrow. We came here to race.’’

The highlight of the Friday’s provisional race was a lowlight: USA capsized early and finished a distant sixth, last (five points).

While waiting on wind, Oracle Team USA spent much time near Navy Pier within view of the grandstand Saturday in the America's Cup World Series at Navy Pier. Credit: Dale Bowman

While waiting on wind, Oracle Team USA spent much time near Navy Pier within view of the grandstand Saturday in the America’s Cup World Series at Navy Pier.
Credit: Dale Bowman

“We’ve done that a couple times and are getting better at recovery,’’ USA skipper Jimmy Spithill cracked.

USA provided a diversion during the waiting Saturday with a flying pass-by tight to Navy Pier to give fans something while they baked.

Any chance of an official race ended by 3 p.m. Saturday. However, there was enough wind to hold a provisional race later. It will only become official is similar conditions exist Sunday.

However, Sunday is forecast to be far different with a blow from the north/northeast.

Saturday’s provisional race finally sailed at 3:45 p.m. to give the thousands who waited, the majority of the original crowd, something to see.

The course was reset. The start was east of DuSable Harbor, most of the racing off Monroe and DuSable harbors, and the finish by the southeast corner of Navy Pier.

New Zealand won handily in 18:58 with the USA a distant second.

“We got off the line well and that set the scene,’’ New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby said. “Boys did a good job of identifying the wind off the land.’’

Wind again.

The trick for sailing in light winds to find a way to lift the hull off the water, which radically reduces drag and ups speed.

It was an inauspicious start for the first freshwater venue for the oldest trophy in international sports (since 1851).

 

LOUIS VUITTON AMERICA’S CUP
WORLD SERIES CHICAGO

SUNDAY: Race village opens 11 a.m., racing 1:30-3 p.m., awards 4

SPECTATORS (LAND): Grandstand seating is on the east end of Navy Pier; there’s also general admission

SPECTATORS (BOAT): Boaters are restricted north of a line off the water treatment plant, east of the Chicago breakwall and south of a line out from Monroe Harbor.

WEB: americascup.com
TV: NBC
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/AmericasCupChicago
TWITTER: @americascup & @acwsChicago
INSTAGRAM: @americascup & @acwsChicago
APP: America’s Cup