As the America's Cup Superyacht Regatta entered its third and final race day on Friday, the scoreline couldn't have been closer. Both 55.5m Adela and 55m Adele were tied for the lead after two races, and with just one race to run it was always going to be a thriller. Moreover, the weather gods decided to bless the fleet of sailing superyachts with perfect conditions on San Francisco bay, as the early morning cloud burnt off bathing the yachts in sun.
Fighting for the Boat International America's Cup Superyacht Regatta Trophy – made by Garrard in 1872 and therefore almost as old as the Auld Mug itself – it was the yacht America that was first to start on a custom course that would send the fleet on effectively two laps of the bay to Angel Island, north of Alcatraz to Sausalito and back to the city waterfront.
The Pendennis-built yacht Adela took an early advantage, starting four minutes ahead of Adele but opening that gap to five minutes 40 seconds by the first mark. From there, as the breeze built gradually from around 10 knots to close to 20 knots, Adele slowly reeled Adela in but never got close enough to threaten. America, meanwhile, was having a storming day in the breezy conditions, and eventually took Race Three victory by a mere 55 seconds on corrected over Adela. Adele took third.
In the Exhibition Class, the 30m CNB Chrisco was joined by the Claasen-built 27.4m Kealoha, taking part in the event for the first time. Both yachts enjoyed a thrilling sail, in spite of Chrisco suffering a blown kite. ‘It was spectacular,’ said Kealoha’s owner back on the dock, ‘such a great day on the Bay – sun, breeze and a nice course. It was a perfect day. We had a little battle with Chrisco near the finish and tried to drive them into the pier!’
‘I was impressed by the exceptional professionalism of Peter Craig and the race committee and the fact that they respected the limitations of a boat like America,’ enthused Robin Reighly, co-helmsman and race co-ordinator in San Francisco of the San Diego-based yacht America. ‘I was particularly impressed with the International Super Yacht Rule sailing rules and the safety officer plan that kept all of the competitors in constant, cordial communication.’
America’s tactician for the day was naval architect David Pedrick, a man with considerable pedigree – he designed several of Dennis Connor’s Cup-winning yachts. ‘It was a spectacular day of sailing on San Francisco Bay,’ he beamed. ‘They were good conditions for America, and it was good fun. The wind built from around 10 knots at the start to 18 knots by the finish. Out most serious tactical calls were how to avoid the tanker that was coming in to the same mark as us from the opposite direction, and avoiding a container ship coming in under Golden Gate bridge! It was really beautiful sailing and it’s been a great fun regatta.’
After the racing, the owners, their guests, crews and VIPs gathered around the stage in the America's Cup Park for the final prizegiving. Spirit of the Regatta award went to Chrisco, while the Royal Huisman-built Athena won the Showboat award for a spectacular display sailing under full canvas during Monday's race. The final standings for the Racing Class were America in third, Adele in second and Adela securing overall victory with her second place in Race Three. As the yacht's owners, several generations of the family, and the crew gathered on stage to pose with the magnificent trophy emotions were running high.
On Friday evening all participants enjoyed a stunning party by Y.CO held at the St Francis Yacht Club. During the party, several thousand dollars were raised through a charity auction for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, set up in memory of the British Olympic sailor who was tragically killed in an accident during a training session on an AC72 earlier this year.