ACWS Newport - Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Newport, Rhode Island
Friends from San Francisco arrived by Wednesday and it was great to have them here to share this adventure. Since Wednesday was the last day before the actual event started, I was able to get some base passes for them. I had two groups of friends coming in that day. The first group arrived in the morning just as one of the boats was being lifted from the team base into the water. Their 2-year-old was mesmerized by this activity, watching this huge winged machine fly over his head on a crane. The passes allowed my friends to wander anywhere within the restricted base area, to any of the teams, but they were ORACLE Team USA fans so that was where we congregated. Having these passes (actually yellow wristbands) was like having a full access back stage pass at a concert. Team members dressed in their full gear would take the time to stop and say hello and my friends would wish them good luck in the days practice racing.
I was only able to stay with them briefly inside the bases as I was scheduled to head out on a photo boat for the days practice racing. By the time I returned from my day on the water, my second group of friends had arrived. They had already picked up their passes and found their way into the restricted base area. They were equally amazed at the craning out of the boats and the power of the little yellow wristbands. Those yellow bands were like gold. Since my first group had headed home for nap time with their young ones, I headed to the beer garden with the second group where we found prime seating to people watch as the preparations were being made for the opening ceremonies that were taking place that evening.
After a short time we decided to wander around a bit to see if we could find a good spot to watch the opening ceremonies. As we wandered, we headed into the center of Fort Adams as my friends had not yet checked out that area. We were pleasantly surprised to see each of the teams grouped together in what had become the staging area for the opening ceremonies. Those wristbands had worked their magic once again as we were allowed to just stroll in as if we were participants in the ceremonies. As the teams lined up for their grand entrance, Chris Draper of Luna Rossa headed to the nearby port-o-potties. His teammates were keeping an eye on him as the time was nearing that they were to head out to the stage. The moment Chris Draper closed the door to the port-o-potty, the rest of the Luna Rossa team ran over and propped a bench in front of the door, locking Chris Draper inside. Laughing hysterically, Chris’ team mates ran back to get in line and almost immediately headed out to the stage in the grand procession. It was great to see these pranksters at work! (Chris missed the procession but was let out in time to join his team - just before they were announced.)
We didn’t stay for the whole opening ceremony as we had reservations for dinner at, as you might have guessed, the Candy Store. When we were about half way through our meal, we noticed that Russell Coutts was dining just a few tables away. And we noticed a few other familiar faces around the restaurant as well. After dinner we enjoyed the beautiful June evening on the patio of the Black Pearl where members of Energy Team were doing the same. It was as if the access of those yellow bands had reached all the way back to the wharfs of Newport as we seemed to be in all the right places at the right times.
We didn’t stay out too late as Thursday was the official start of the event. I think everyone could feel the excitement in the cool night air. My host family had mentioned that those "Fly Emirates boys" as she liked to call them had been having bon fires in the backyard at the house next door which they must have been renting. But not on this night as even they had turned in early in preparation for the next day's main event.
More photos from today can be found HERE
More photos from today can be found HERE