NEW YORK – The America’s Cup yacht Oracle Team USA is guided by a sailor who as a young boy sailed, raced and capsized boats in Barnegat Bay. Now as tactician of a yacht capable of speeds in excess of 40 mile per hour, Andrew Campbell’s job, in his words, is to “help feed information to the helmsman and contribute strategic advice so that the boat is tactically best positioned to gain around the course.”
This weekend the world’s best sailors will be in our waters as the America’s Cup World Series comes to the Hudson River, staging two days of races between Lower Manhattan and Jersey City. The event is part of a series to help determine who will challenge Team USA in Bermuda for the Cup. Team USA will participate even though they automatically qualify for the finals based on their come-from-behind win in the 2013 America’s Cup.
The boats are in the AC45F class, which the America’s Cup describes as a “one-design catamaran powered by a wing sail that flies above the water on foils and is sailed by a crew of five.”
As a boy from Toms River sailing in the Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association, Campbell learned “to be adventurous and self reliant sailing with myself or one other person and exploring, getting stuck capsized in the river, and figuring out how to problem solve with sailing as the mechanism for that learning.”
And for Campbell this weekend is a homecoming.
At age eight his family moved from Toms River to San Diego where the weather is nearly perfect year round. But as Campbell said in an email, “the uniquely Jersey thing I miss the most is really how sailors make the most of their season…. The summer is so good in NJ that you don’t waste a minute of it. I do envy the feeling of a season culminating with championship events. I think it builds a strong sailing community in areas the Barnegat Bay.”
After a practice day on Friday beginning at noon, the races will take place on Saturday and Sunday on a tight course in the lower Hudson River. Despite these boats’ incredible speed and power, Campbell says, “It will be a small course but the boats and format are conditioned to do a lot of maneuvering. The stadium-style format is what we train for and the challenge is something we look forward to.”
Racing begins at 2pm on Saturday and Sunday with three races each day. For event information and viewing locations, visit the America’s Cup website.