The World Series competition will impact the seeding for next year's America's Cup. There are 11 teams from eight different countries. The route takes about 22 minutes and is two laps around the bay. Officials say the conditions in San Francisco are tough due to wind and rough waters and crews say they are very challenged. In fact, two teams capsized during practice Tuesday. More teams are expected to capsize over the next few days, but officials say no injuries were reported Tuesday and crews are embracing the challenge.
"This is now extreme sailing. You're sailing a catamaran and you want to sail up on one hull to reduce the friction, but once you're up on one hull, you're at risk of capsizing and that's what we saw yesterday," explained America's Cup spokesperson Tom Ehman. "Both the China team and one of the very top teams, Emirates Team New Zealand, also capsized in the windy rough conditions here in the San Francisco Bay."
The Marina Green was packed with spectators watching the races -- a warm reception by racing enthusiasts on a seasonably chilly summer day.
"The weather's a double-edged sword here for us. The wind is why we came. We came because we want the strong winds and it makes the racing really exciting," America's Cup spokesperson Peter Rusch said.
Thousands are expected to watch from the Marina Green for free or in the nearly sold-out ticketed bleacher seats for $25 apiece. Yacht racing fans are coming from both near and far.
Paul and Inge Vavrovsky from Austria planned their three-week vacation to San Francisco to coincide with the series.
"Austria, we only have lakes, we don't have seas, so it's something we can dream of," Inge Vavrovsky said. "But we are very good sailors," Paul Vavrovsky said.
While not an international trip, new regatta fans Nathan and Louise Bogetti drove an hour and a half for the fleet races.
"We are going to be back in September and October, so I think we're hitting some events then and then we do plan on being here in 2013," Louise Bogetti said.
That's exactly what organizers hope other spectators will do -- get a taste of the international sport and return for more.
"This is our opening night. This is a really important event for us. We want to show what the America's Cup is all about. We've got 11 great crews here, we've got some fantastic boats, and we have windy conditions. I mean, it couldn't be better for the racing for us here," Rusch said.
The races resume Thursday just after 2 p.m. with the match-racing quarter finals -- the qualifiers who advanced from Wednesday's fleet races.