It isn’t a major motion picture, concert or theater production, but a blockbuster event of another kind — the America’s Cup World Series — is playing at a pier near you this weekend.
The America’s Cup, which is making its third stop in San Diego, features the oldest active trophy in international sporting competition, dating to 1851. The nine participating boats —all AC45 winged sailed catamarans — represent eight teams from seven countries in the competition.
Best views come from the Broadway Pier and Navy Pier along the San Diego waterfront. The event is free to the public but be mindful of parking fees.
Match racing championships are scheduled Friday and Saturday from 1-4 p.m. while speed trials and the fleet race championship is scheduled Sunday from 1-3:30 p.m.
San Diego Port District Commissioner Robert Valderamma of National City called the event a “great attraction” for the five cities that comprise the Port District: San Diego, Chula Vista, National City, Imperial Beach and Coronado.
“This is a perfect fit for our maritime culture,” he said. “I am thrilled to be a part of this.”
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders called sailing and San Diego “a great match.”
The America’s Cup World Series features eight stops scheduled through May 2013 around the world in this new series. This week’s competition on San Diego Bay is the third in the series following previous stops in Portugal (in August) and England (in September).
The America’s Cup World Series will lead up to the actual final America’s Cup challenge in San Francisco in 2013.
Oracle Racing is the defender of the 34th America’s Cup after bringing the trophy back to the United States in February 2010.
All nine skippers gave their take on racing in San Diego Bay at a special press conference Tuesday at the America’s Cup Village located between the San Diego Maritime Museum (Star of India tall ship) and U.S.S. Midway carrier.
“San Diego has a rich tradition with the America’s Cup,” said Dean Barker, who skippers the Emirates Team New Zealand boat. “The sailing here is going to be fantastic. It’s going to have its challenges. But it’s going to be a special event.”
“San Diego Bay is a tricky place to sail,” admitted James Spithill, who skippers one of the U.S. boats from the Oracle Racing team. “There’s so much unpredictably. The wind is always shifting. The course is right along downtown. It will be a great show for all those who come to watch.”
Teams represented in the AC World Series include those from the United States (two teams), France (two teams), Sweden, China, New Zealand, Spain and Korea. An Italian team will join in 2012.
The New Zealand team currently leads the series with 38 points, followed by the two American teams with 34 and 28 points, respectively.
The America’s Cup World Series’ first weekend on San Diego Bay featured the Port Cities Challenge Nov. 12-13. Elected officials from the five Port District cities and the U.S. Coast Guard raced on assigned boats.
Guest dignitaries included San Diego councilmember Kevin Falconer, National City Mayor Ron Morrison, Coronado commissioner David Malcolm, Imperial Beach Mayor Jim Janney and Cmdr. Michael Leon Guerrero, representing Chula Vista for Mayor Cheryl Cox.
The New Zealand entry captured the Port Cities Challenge trophy while Chula Vista won bragging rights as the “fastest Port City” as Guerrero notched a second-place finish aboard one of the Oracle Racing entries.
“It was awesome, just great,” Guerrero said. “The boats are phenomenal, and to go that fast is really amazing. We hear a lot about the technology that's behind these boats, and now I can say I've seen it in action.”
The America’s Cup Village, which features vendors, live music and interactive attractions, is open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit the Web site at www.americascup.com.