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Pac52: Season opens with nine yachts, up from five last year, including three Mexican boats and Tony

SAN DIEGO – In only its full second year, the ostensible West Coast Pac52 Class has gone international, with three Mexican boats joining for the opening regatta in San Diego this weekend, along with Tony Langley's British entry, LAND ROVER BAR GLADIATOR.

Ben Ainslie (GBR), one of our sport's all-time superstars, has the core of his 2021 America's Cup team in San Diego sailing with Mr. Langley on GLADIATOR. So far in the two-day regatta, which concludes today, GLADIATOR stands second to another new Pac52 team, VESPER which, surprisingly, has won all three races. VESPER is owned by David Team of Newport Harbor YC, Newport Beach, CA. Another Newport Harbor boat, Manouch Moshayedi's RIO (which races under the burgee of San Francisco's St Francis YC) stands third. Full results here.

In fact, the Class has grown to 10 boats counting Victor Wild's FOX, which was the first Pac52 to be built two years ago. The SDYC-based FOX is not entered in this regatta as they are having a new keel put on the boat.

The Pac52 Class is racing this weekend as part of the "SCYA Midwinters" hosted by San Diego Yacht Club. Full results here. More on the class website (which, so far, barely mentions this regatta, headlining the season kickoff as SDYC's Yachting Cup in May) and the Pac52 Facebook page.

The SCYA Midwinters is a two-weekend event celebrating almost 90 years. It is taking place this weekend and next, with various classes hosted by a number of SoCal clubs. SCYA predicts that more than 30 yacht clubs, 600 boats and 2500 sailors will compete.

Earlier this week, the AP's esteemed sports writer Bernie Wilson penned a nice piece about Sir Ben, et al., racing in this weekend's Pac52 regatta. Quoting from Mr Wilson's widely picked-up article, via the Washington Post:

Sir Ben Ainslie isn’t taking any time off from his pursuit of sailing’s greatest prize.The British sailing star is back in San Diego for the second time in four months, this time with top crew members to begin a new season of sailing to help stay fresh in the long, somewhat uncertain buildup toward the 2021 America’s Cup.

The core of Ainslie’s Land Rover BAR team will race with Tony Langley’s British sailing team Gladiator on the TP52 circuit this year. The newly formed Land Rover BAR Gladiator will debut in the SCYA Midwinter Regatta out of the San Diego Yacht Club this weekend.

It’s not match racing and the sloops don’t rise up on hydrofoils like the next generation of America’s Cup boats will. With that high-performance monohull still in the conceptual stage, Ainslie, one of the world’s most accomplished sailors, simply wants to be back on the water.

“There’s quite a lot missing, but in terms of just getting out there, racing with the guys, building on those relationships on a tough, tight circuit, that’s going to be really good for us,” Ainslie said Thursday evening after a day of training. “This is obviously not the foiling, not the high performance thing, but it’s sort of the pure sort of racing element of it.”

Ainslie, the most-decorated Olympic sailor ever with four gold medals and one silver, remains committed to becoming the first to hoist the America’s Cup in victory for Britain. He’s won it before, but with Oracle Team USA in 2013.His countrymen have been trying and failing to win back the silver trophy ever since the schooner America won it by beating a fleet of British ships around the Isle of Wight in 1851.

Read Bernie Wilson's full AP story, via the WashPo, here.

Sir Ben Ainslie (GBR), head of Great Britain's 2021 America's Cup Challenger LAND ROVER BAR ("Ben Ainslie Racing"). 2015 file photo courtesy of Tim Ireland/Associated Press.

Gallery of photos of the venue and yesterday's racing courtesy of the Pac52 Class and SDYC.

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