Last weekend I flew up to San Francisco to watch the second installment of the America's Cup World Series. I went to the August regatta and had a blast so as soon as I got home from that one I booked a flight for the October event. I am not a sailor but I guess you could call me a fan of exciting things and these America's Cup races are definitely exciting. To make it even better, the October regatta was the same weekend as Fleet Week. Luckily the races and air show were at the same location so I was able to enjoy both.
Because of Fleet Week, the America's Cup Village was moved to the far west end of Marina Green. I saw it called Little Marina Green and also Marina Green West. The Village was much smaller than in August. The team bases were not located in the village and the boats didn't launch from there. There was still a main stage, shops, refreshments, digital boathouse, and educational activities for kids. Further down the spit (I was told it isn't a peninsula) where the yacht clubs are located, they had two sets of bleachers. One of the bleacher sections was ticketed while the other one was free. The addition of free bleachers was new this time and had I known about it I wouldn't have purchased a ticket for one day. By the time the racing started both of the bleacher sections were very full and they were trying to squeeze people in the ticketed section to make room. Another consequence of having the races during Fleet Week was that the racing was moved off shore a bit. They said this was because they had to have an exclusion zone for boat traffic to travel through. I have to admit, this was a bit disappointing and I hope they bring the races closer again next year.
The organizers did a great job of educating the public about the America's Cup during the morning show on the main stage. They explained the history of the event and showed highlight videos from the previous day. They also brought out the actual America's Cup out a couple of times so people could see it and get pictures. (You couldn't get very close to it though). The announcers also answered questions from the crowd.
The races were just as exciting as in August. Saturday was my favorite day because there were two match race semifinals, two fleet races, and then the match race finals. It was also the day I saw my first capsize when Jimmy Spithill flipped his AC45 around the initial turn in the first match race. Amazingly, the boat and wing sail weren't damaged and he came back to finish second in the next fleet race and win the final match race.
I had a fantastic time in San Francisco for both of the America's Cup World Series regattas. The city did a great job handling the crowds, especially during Fleet Week. I didn't have any problems with BART, buses, or cabs. I am confident that the Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup races next year will be successful and I can't wait to go up and see them.
Briefly, I want to thank the America's Cup organization for the work they are doing promoting clean and protected oceans. They are organizing shoreline cleanup activities with the race teams and teaching children about the importance of cleaning up the oceans. During the regatta I was able to attend a talk by Dr. Sylvia Earle about current ocean conditions and what we can do to help out. The America's Cup organization doesn't have to do these extra events but I'm glad they are and think it will go a long way towards getting people to cleaning up and protect the oceans.