America's Cup Bermuda, Day One
27 May 2017
“No tickets are available for the AC Village.” Dillon, the agent at the AC gift shop helped us the day before getting tickets to the Village for Tuesday, my birthday. He also got us a spectator boat pass for our dinghy. Dillion was very frustrated with the ticket computer saying, “I thought I was just going to sell t-shirts.” There was always a long, slow line at his terminal and people were frustrated.
The first day of racing was to be Friday. It was canceled due to high winds. Additional races and opening ceremony was moved to Saturday. But we weren't able to get tickets. Lisa and I have been to three previous America's Cup races and this is the first time they charged to get into the venue. We were not going to be denied watching the first day of racing.
Spectator boat passes are cheap, $35 if your boat is under 40 feet. At 42 feet, Uproar would cost $420 for a spectator pass. We got the $35 pass for our dinghy. We also learned that the local prices for the Village were available to anyone with a Bermuda cell phone. We got a sym card and now are paying half for our tickets! You have to learn the ropes.
I looked at the course diagrams and saw that there were great anchorages just outside the spectator boat boundaries. I told Lisa, “They are going to have to tell me to move. Let's just anchor there and see what happens.” It turns out that there were very few spectator boats on that side of the course and where we anchored was not a concern to officials. We did dinghy right up to the spectator boat boundaries and were the only boat within ¼ mile spectating. There were plenty of marshal boats and they were most friendly to us.
After two races we moved back to Uproar. On Uproar we could see the entire course and grill hamburgers in the shade! It was fantastic! So much for overwhelming crowds. Our experience at AC events is that they aren't as much a draw as people think.
So what about the racing? It was Formula 1 or MotoGP on the water. These boats literally fly! The wind was between 10 and 15 knots and they were hitting over 40 MPH. The racing was mostly close too. There are six boats entered. Each boat raced two races. Oracle won both, France lost both and the other four teams split. There were lead changes, one contact at the start and a penalty. It was exciting racing all afternoon.
The races start with a two minute starting sequence. A lot can happen in two minutes with these fast boats. There is a short reach to the first mark and turn downwind to the leeward gate. Then a two mile beat to the windward gate, leeward, windward, leeward and short reach to the finish. Races last about 20 minutes. We could see and follow all from Uproar or the dinghy. There was a running commentary on the VHF radio too. This really helped with following the races.
Great Sound in Bermuda is a fantastic venue for this event. It is the perfect size, flat, turquoise water and moderate wind. The old, naval Dockyard is a large compound built in the 1700's that is now a major tourist center. It is just outside the AC Village. Hamilton is the capitol city on the east side of the Sound. It is historic, beautiful and has all the conveniences. There are plenty of anchorages all around the area and space for hundreds more boats.
If you are in the Caribbean and thinking about sailing here, I sure recommend it. I don't know about land accommodations but the logistics and fun of being here on the water are a real treat. We are excited to see these races over the next month in Bermuda.