Jeddah – Sailing the AC40s on the Red Sea – a first for the America’s Cup – is a big moment for the sport and a significant moment for the activation of the Jeddah Yacht Club and the Saudi Sailing Federation’s investment in youth and women’s sailing in the Kingdom. Inspiring the next generation into sailing is a deep commitment of both the Club and the Federation with some 40 children a day taking part in sailing activities aboard the club’s RS dinghy programme.
Seeing the high-octane AC40’s, capable of speeds up to 45 knots (perhaps more), sailed by the best foiling sailors in the world today is hopefully the catalyst to even wider participation. Diego Torrado, Boat Captain of the AC40s for Alinghi Red Bull Racing, summed up the sailing area after training today saying: “The day today was really successful. Nice day, nice location, nice wind, good weather, fantastic place… we have a nice sea breeze, warm water and this is a really nice area for sailing. We had a nice day and super happy.”
Alinghi Red Bull Racing docked out into the crystal waters of the Red Sea at midday and were greeted by near-perfect conditions of flat water and 10-11 knots of breeze from the west. Throughout the afternoon, as is usual, the breeze built to a blustery 15-16 knots which is close to perfect for the AC40 with a slight chop.
Meanwhile, the most stunning of Arabian architectural backdrops greeted the sailors with the angular Jeddah Yacht Club & Marina facility and the Al Rahmah Mosque – also known as the ‘Floating Mosque’ visible onshore alongside the ever-changing downtown skyline of Jeddah city. The unique light of what is now autumn in Saudi Arabia, and warm, temperate conditions of low 30 degrees made the first training session of the second Preliminary Regatta, something to savour. The Swiss set a course along the famous Jeddah Corniche of some 1.5 nautical miles and it’s here where several fan zones and activations will be housed – as a natural viewing platform, it’s hard to beat and with the boats coming so close into the breakwater shoreline, it promises to be a not-to-miss opportunity for fans and spectators to savour.
Racing starts in earnest on Wednesday 29th November with an eight-race format through to the 2nd December where the top two teams will contest the grand final to decide the winner. It promises to be a spectacular event in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and one of the highlights of the global sailing calendar in 2023.