ORACLE TEAM USA officially launched the team’s second AC72 today, April 23, from the team base at Pier 80 in San Francisco. Helmsman Jimmy Spithill led the team and audience in a toast after Oracle Chief Marketing Officer Judy Sim broke a bottle of champagne across the bowsprit. The boat was then lowered into the San Francisco Bay before docking out for the first time. “It’s an awesome day. We’re all very, very excited to get it out on the water,” said Spithill. “We hope to develop the fastest AC72 that will hit the Bay. There’s been a lot of energy, a lot of hours, put into this boat from the entire team. Now, it’s up to the sailors, along with the support of the rest of the team, to get out there and really try to get the most out of this boat.”
Spithill recognized the months of work put into the design and build of the boat in preparation for launch. “We have the best, most committed shore team, build team, design team, and the entire team is behind us, supporting us,” he said. “They’re the first to arrive, the last to leave, work 7 days a week, just to provide us with a reliable, race-winning boat, ready to go.”
Named ORACLE TEAM USA 17, the boat is the second AC72 launched by ORACLE TEAM USA and marks the start of the next phase in the team’s campaign. Training commences on the new boat this week, and by late spring the team plans to have both AC72s on the Bay as they prepare to defend the America’s Cup this September.
“There’s been an enormous amount of work that has gone into this boat,” said CEO Russell Coutts during the launch. “It represents extreme performance and extreme engineering. It represents a significant improvement in performance over where we’ve been before. And probably most importantly, this represents the boat that is going to defend the America’s Cup, for America, in America.”
The event included remarks from San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who noted that this is a week of celebration as the Port of San Francisco marks its 150th anniversary tomorrow.
Bay Area native and ORACLE TEAM USA tactician John Kostecki described the thrill of sailing on the San Francisco Bay.
“We’re going fast, probably faster than a car on the Golden Gate Bridge,” Kostecki said. “Upwind we’re doing speeds of around 20 knots, downwind we’re doing speeds over 40 knots. It’s really going to be interesting to take into account the current, that is ever-so-changing, and the winds that are ever-so-changing here on the Bay. That’s what keeps San Francisco an interesting and exciting place to race sail boats because it’s always different every day.”
The day’s sailing session was cut short as winds were blowing above 20 knots. The team plans to be back out on the water later this week.
“It’s all coming together,” said trimmer Joey Newton. “It was a tough time after the capsize, and we felt like we were a little behind the other teams, and I think we were. Now, it really feels like we have everything pointed in the right direction, and we’re starting to make pretty big steps. We’ve got high hopes for this boat, and I’m sure it’s going to be fast.”