Photography by Ian Roman
31 October 2023
Jeddah in Saudi Arabia is preparing to host the world’s finest foiling sailors all eager to sail in the pristine waters from 29 November to 2 December 2023.
Hosted by the fabulous Jeddah Yacht Club & Marina, truly one of the finest yacht clubs in the world, racing will once again be in the pure one-design AC40 class – the most exciting new foiling fleet on the planet. The format will see the competing teams contest eight fleet races, starting on Thursday 30 November before the top two teams will contest a winner-takes-all one-on-one Match Race to be crowned as champions and give the winning team an incredible boost going into 2024 when Barcelona will host the 37th America’s Cup for real.
The contest in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia promises to be electric with all the teams capable of winning races – the most consistent will come out on top.
For fans and spectators in Jeddah, this second Preliminary Regatta will be the most accessible sporting contest with Jeddah’s famous ‘Corniche’ playing host to the Race Village and Fan Zone to catch all the action on jumbo screens in real-time whilst enjoying the various activations and restaurant pop-up facilities. The Race Village is open to the public at no cost, with all the racing streamed on the big screens and entertainment on the main stage.
Furthermore, spectators will be able to watch the thrilling action right up along the Corniche, as the AC40’s pass by the shore at speeds of up to 100 kph, flying above the surface of the water on foils. The racing is tactical and close with all the boats equalised to ensure that the most consistent and skilful team wins and with the America’s Cup racing now under a year away, every team wants to put in a top performance.
Nobody wants to be last and in the America’s Cup where, famously, “There is no second,” this is a chance for the sailors to stamp their mark on the event and set the tone for the year ahead.
With the America’s Cup coming to Jeddah and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, it is an important activation for the Saudi Sailing Federation and the Jeddah Yacht Club & Marina facility which is one of the most active clubs in the world with a youth program that encourages some 40 children a day to come and try sailing.
To date close to 2,000 girls and boys have passed through the Jeddah Yacht Club Academy system and with near-perfect weather for sailing on a daily basis, it is a program that is getting widespread attention in the Kingdom.
Mohideen Nazer, Senior Vice President at Sela, the company behind Jeddah Yacht Club & Marina proudly stated: “We have invested in these amazing facilities at The JYC Academy because we are committed to the growth of water sports throughout Saudi Arabia. We have built a world class training centre in Jeddah that will inspire people new to the sport to come and try it and will provide elite sailors with the best opportunity to develop their competitive skills. We want as many people as possible to enjoy water sports – young and old, newcomers and elite alike – and we have built a centre that is inspirational.”
Grant Dalton, CEO of America’s Cup Events, visited the yacht club in October and was impressed with what he saw, saying: “The Jeddah Yacht Club and Marina facility is undeniably one of the finest clubs in the world and we are really excited to be bringing the America’s Cup Preliminary Regatta to the Kingdom.
“Our motivation is to inspire and assist the Saudi Sailing Federation and the Jeddah Yacht Club in their mission to make the sport of sailing accessible to all and their academy is a lesson in how to do it right. We are very grateful to the yacht club for their support, and we look forward to sailing on the Red Sea in the perfect conditions that the region offers and inspiring generations of Saudi sailors to participate in the sport.”
All the racing will be shown free-to-air globally on YouTube whilst locally the Saudi Sports Channel will also be streaming the races live on MBC’s Shahid platform. Entry to the Fan Zone and Race Village is also free and tickets can be obtained through the America’s Cup website.
The full event and racing schedule online.