Sunday, 15 September 2013

The America's Cup

I have not a big fan of sailing, knowing almost nothing about it, but two things in the last couple of years have helped me gain a little understanding of it.

I was able to go to Weymouth to see the 2012 Olympic sailing competition, had a very pleasant two days out of London, and enjoyed what I saw. In October 2011 I spent a most enjoyable three hours at the New Zealand Maritime Museum, where part of a very wide-ranging series of displays was given over to the America's Cup. That was where I began to understand the sheer size of the boats involved, and the enormous costs incurred.

And so here I am in San Francisco, where the 2013 America's Cup is being staged, with the races held in the Bay, on a course close enough to the shore for the crowds to be able to see the race 'live'.  Of course the infamous fog can play its part, as on the afternoon I saw races 3 & 4.

This is one of the smaller boats, used in the Youth Race

I took this photo from on the Golden Gate Bridge: again, I think it's one of the smaller boats

Sunday Sept 8th, crowds await Races 3 & 4

There are grandstands, with big screens relaying the broadcast images, for those who wish to pay, and of course there are numerous sponsor enclosures with the same plus, doubtless, endless hospitality.  I joined the ordinary folk on the waters edge, getting an elevated position with a few press photographers.   The kinks in the San Francisco shoreline mean that unless you are in the SF Yacht Club house, nowhere is it possible to see the whole course.  However, my position did have the advantage of being opposite where the boats turn about. ( There must be a nautical term for that).

The boats are huge,  72-foot (21.9 m) wing-sail catamarans, and it is commonly reported that each team has around 150 crew, tacticians, technicians and support staff.  The budget for each team is rumoured to be around 100m US$.   Team USA is sponsored by Oracle, whose founder and CEO has his own super-yacht Musashi moored here, often seen in the background of the TV coverage. (290 feet long, rumoured to cost £300m).

The defenders are the Oracle Team USA,  the challengers Emirates Team New Zealand. The two teams compete in a first-to-9 series which will determine the champion.

The competition has not been without off-race drama, and death. A jury found Oracle Team USA guilty of cheating during a warmup event when they placed bags of lead pellets in their 45-foot catamarans to add additional weight. Penalties imposed included expelling three team members, a fine, and penalty points. This last penalty means that Oracle must win 11 races to retain the trophy, while New Zealand need only win 9 races to win the Cup.

In July, Briton Andrew Simpson died while training for the Cup.

The clever slogan on sponsor Nespresso's window might be a little presumptuous:

I understand there is coverage of the racing in the UK on BBC2.  Elsewher, there is an 'as live' package on the AC YouTube channel, as soon as each race has concluded.  it is very well shot and presented, and this non-sailor has greatly enjoyed the coverage.   At the time of writing, New Zealand look on course to win the Cup after 8 races, but things can change.

No comments:

Post a Comment