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AC35 Match: Noodling in Newport (Beach)

NEWPORT BEACH, CA – There are two Newport's in the USA that are popular sailing centers – Newport, RI on the East Coast between Boston and NYC, the spiritual home of the America's Cup inasmuch as it was held there from 1930 until NYYC lost it to the Aussies in 1983; and Newport Beach, CA on the West Coast between LA and San Diego in Southern California. When a Californian says "Newport" they mean Newport Beach. When a sailor most anywhere else in the country says 'Newport" they mean Newport, RI – hence the necessary distinction in our headline.

After speaking at the Newport Harbor YC's Wednesday Yachting Luncheon (held at Bahia Corinthian YC while NHYC is under reconstruction – great turnout!), your Ed. stayed on in NB to race Thursday evening in the Balboa YC "Beer Can" series on the mighty IT'S OK!, the Andrews 50 that we race throughout the year in SoCal and northern Mexico. It's a great boat with an excellent group of friends crewing, and last evening was no exception. We handily won another race in light air with a number of mostly non-sailing guests – family and friends – on board.

Of course everyone was keen to hear the latest on the Cup, and there are a lot of strong views about what shape the next Cup should take irrespective of whether ETNZ or OTUSA win. Interestingly, one VIP guest with us last evening who has been watching the Cup on TV was quite surprised to learn that IT'S OK! at 50' is the same length as the AC50 catamarans, which he thought looked a lot bigger on TV – perhaps because those boats only have six crew on board instead of the 20 or so we had aboard last night. He also opined that on TV the AC50s don't look like they are going all that fast – that the J-Class yachts throwing a big bow wave looked as fast even faster. He also loved the sail handling on the Js, spinnakers up and down, big overlapping jibs on tacks, etc. and missed that on the cats. The AC50s, he said, seemed to lack action other than the "ridiculous" looking pedaling that's going on ("people don't want to be reminded of their early morning 'spin-class'"). He had no idea the "cyclors" as the Kiwis call them are pumping up hydraulic accumulators, not turning winches. Interesting observations from a keen observer who's a casual sailor but these days mostly a powerboater.

Inevitably the conversation came back to two topics: the nationality rule (lack thereof in the current Cup), and tomorrow's wind forecast for Bermuda.

On the former, coincidentally IT'S OK! co-owner Andy Rose, who serves as our tactician, is the reason New York YC put in a nationality rule for crews sailing the 1980 Cup. Andy was and is a keen match racer, having won any number of match racing events as a "yute" and young adult (Governor's Cup, Congressional Cup, etc.). For the 1977 America's Cup Andy was invited by Alan Bond to serve as tactician aboard AUSTRALIA. While they eventually lost 4-0 to Ted Turner and his faster COURAGEOUS, they sailed well tactically, and that did not sit well with NYYC – Andy was the first American to sail with a Challenger (a non-American boat) since at least the dawn of the Cup's 12 Meter era in 1958. That's why I and other Cup historians often refer to that first nationality restriction as the Rose Rule. Andy has strong views on all this, and agreed last evening to put his thoughts down on digital paper for your Ed. to run here on SAILING ILLUSTRATED over the weekend. Ironically, Andy is a strong supported of a crew nationality rule for the Cup.

As to the weekend forecast for Bermuda. all week your Ed. has been watching and telling our Dear Readers that Sat-Tue looked light but raceable. However, SI's weather guru up in Long Beach, Mark Michaelsen, has been saying all along that Saturday looks marginal – that at race time on Saturday (1400 ADT) it may well be under the 6 knot wind limit. Now even is saying that it could be too light to race on Saturday, showing only 5 knots at 1500. Looks like another tough day for Regatta Director Iain Murray, and just what the Kiwis were hoping for with their light-air flyer.

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