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America's Cup Artemis AC72 hits the water in SF

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Just weeks after the dramatic capsize of billionaire Larry Ellison's AC72 in heavy winds, Sweden's Artemis AC72 catamaran slid into the treacherous currents of San Francisco Bay. After leaving the launch point in nearby Alameda, the AC72 headed for the open waters off Alcatraz. Each America's Cup team is permitted 30 days of racing practice, promising an abundance of viewing opportunities for San Francisco visitors and residents over the next year.

The black hulls and fiery red logo of Artemis Racing AC72 went under sail on Tuesday for the first time, sailing for over three hours in winds of 8-12 knots. It was an exciting milestone for the team whose test sail was delayed first by a damaged wing sail and then by structural issues with the platform in October.

The massive AC72 returned to the water on Saturday, surprising people out for a stroll along Crissy Field. The ongoing team training offers a great outdoor show for runners, walkers, and sailors. SF and its many hills offer ideal vistas and opportunities to watch the teams in action.

“It’s a big milestone for the team,” said skipper Terry Hutchinson. “We’ve been working tirelessly towards this day and have had a few setbacks which have been painful for all of us to deal with, so this is the first day of many and it’s nice to get it rolling.

“We were quite conservative about the way we sailed the boat today and we worked through the process methodically and signed off on the checklist. You have to show these boats respect; you can tell already that this is going to be a beast.”

Juan Kouyoumdjian, principal designer for the team, said the boat passed with flying colors. “Today was about slowly loading the boat and making checks and then when those boxes are ticked and no funny noises are heard, going on to the next step,” he said. “It was successful. Nothing happened that shouldn’t have happened, so it’s been good.”

“We’re very excited to get out there for day one,” agreed team CEO Paul Cayard. “The first day sailing in every America’s Cup is significant,” he said. “But this Cup it’s a quantum leap because the boats are a new class, it’s catamarans and the wing… And we’ve had a few setbacks, we’ve taken it on the chin a little bit, so it was a big deal for us to get out there and have a good day.”

A total of four AC72 racing teams are expected to continue practice training over the next six months. Stay abreast of the schedules and news at the AC website.

© Copyright 2012 Mary Holman. All rights reserved. This article and content may not be republished, rewritten or excerpted.

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