You can’t get much closer to the America’s Cup action than Seattle’s Ben Glass. He’s driving one of the eight markset boats for the America’s Cup Race Management and is spending his America’s Cup 200 meters east of the leeward gate. I had a chance to catch up with Ben the yesterday morning, before he headed out to set the racecourse for races three and four.
One of the questions was, “why the buoys?” Last time he and spoke, the plan was for unanchored boats (his being one) to act as the marks, and hold station with automated systems. Interestingly, when the teams were contacted for safety improvements following Andrew Simpson’s death, one of their requests was to have traditional, unmanned “soft” soft marks. It makes sense, who wants to round a boat, with people aboard, at 30 knots on foils?
Glass also reports that the race management side of things for the finals is going smoothly. Because the wind is a relatively steady 230-240 degrees, there isn’t much call for shifting the weather or leeward gates. The two most critical angles are the start line and the first leg, to ensure that neither the weather nor leeward gets too much of any advantage at the start. I’d say so far, so good, the starts have been competitive and the first mark is always interesting.
Glass, who’s been in San Francisco since the beginning of June, emphasized that a big (and probably underreported) part of the America’s Cup Race Management effort was geared toward educating people about sailing and getting them “into” the sport. As part of his duties, he’s helped run foiling Moth races, 18′ skiff races and kiteboarding. “It’s like being at the County Fair,” Glass explains.
As close as he is to the action, his position doesn’t afford him a “big picture” view of the races. Like the rest of us, to get a sense of that perspective he looks at it on a screen! His thoughts after the first two races? “I’m excited they’re as close to each other as we thought they would be.”
We hope to check in with Ben as the series moves along.