First Cup Races Deliver Promised Thrills, Spills

Last summer, Sail Newport Executive Director Brad Read described the AC45 catamarans as “weapons” and promised carnage if the breeze blew strong enough on Narragansett Bay during the America’s Cup World Series event. On June 28, the first day of official races, the regatta lived up to its billing, delivering plenty of hair-raising sailing for the competitors and spectators and even a little bit of destruction.

During the early afternoon — before the sea breeze had built, actually — Emirates Team New Zealand capsized when the leeward runner was not eased, preventing skipper Dean Barker from letting out the mainsail during the downwind run. The big cat spent nearly an hour on its side, at one point with both hulls pointed dramatically skyward, before being righted. In good form, the crew sailed the yacht back to its base under its own power, where the damaged wingsail will be repaired overnight. The team is expected to return to racing on June 29.

But the Kiwis’ trouble was hardly the only excitement of the day, with plenty of thrilling, close-quarters racing happening in the waters literally a stone’s throw from Fort Adams. At the end of the day, Oracle’s Team USA-Spithill remained at the head of the pack, having increased its lead and proving that it is the team to beat. Racing resumes on Friday, June 29, at 2:30 p.m.

To watch the America’s Cup World Series races live on YouTube, click here.