the (multihull) revolution starts now?
Reminiscent of figuring out our role in a new relationship, the press was out in force to greet BMWO Racing’s USA 17 at Pier 80 in San Francisco. The Star Isfjord sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge at 5:30am and was docked at 6:30am. As shipping ports are these days, Pier 80 was on lock-down, yet the vibe from Jim Maloney, the Maritime Marketing Director for the Port of SF, was open and welcoming. He personally met with each of us at the gate. During our interaction, Maloney excitedly commented that, “all of these guys working here are the direct result of San Francisco winning the bid for the America’s Cup.” Peter Daly the Maritime Director of the port later added, “The ship is coming to San Francisco because of the America’s Cup and providing scores of jobs for our longshoremen, for our maritime unions, and our maritime industries here. We are just thrilled that it’s going to be an economic shot in the arm for the Port.” This highlights the simple fact that every politician in San Francisco is banking on positive cash flow and jobs in order to avoid getting lynched over their support of the AC coming to SF.
We gathered at the gate, waiting to board the shuttle and be driven the 200 yards to the site where we could bask in the shadow of the incredible USA 17. We had to stay within a designated press area, which made it difficult to get great shots of USA 17 as she sat on deck of the Star Isfjord after her transit from Spain. She is wrapped in white plastic and shored well on cradles and boat stands.
The generally understated, John “JK” Kostecki was on hand for interviews, and you could tell that he was stoked to see the boat that he won the America’s Cup on in his hood. He was generally more animated than I have seen him at other press events. Ian “Fresh” Burns was also there fielding questions from the media, the majority of which had obviously never sailed before. This is the market that this particular press conference was geared toward, the general public who might be concerned about CEQUA exemptions and the way that their taxes may be spent in support of the America’s Cup. After this is all over, I can guarantee that the city of SF, every non-marine journalist involved, and hopefully the greater population of the US, understands a little more about what sailing is.
There wasn’t much in the way of a revolutionary story at this dog and pony show, other than the historical context of one bad-ass, 90 foot, carbon-fiber sailing machine, that won the America’s Cup, is now here in The Bay. Really, that in and of itself is a pretty big deal. This event is essentially the kick-off to watch the evolution and development of the America’s Cup over the next couple of years, culminating of course with the AC being sailed here in 2013.
To address the question on many people’s mind, about whether she’ll sail The Bay, unfortunately she probably won’t. Kostecki comments, “I’ve heard from Larry a few times, he was pretty keen to sail it…right now the plan is not to sail it. I don’t know what the future plans are, right now, but hopefully it will be for public display somewhere.” I can’t wait to see what the display is all about. Perhaps later she’ll wind up as a filming platform for a Disney movie. Who knows?
Like a page from the successful Extreme 40 Series, it seems that Oracle Racing has taken a lesson about making sailing more interesting to the public, Burns comments ”The whole thing is about getting it close to people, so that people can see it; so they can almost touch it from the shore-side. The racecourse will definitely go up and down the City Front.” Hopefully an American audience can get into it like their European counterparts.
The letdown for me was, and I completely understand why it happened, they couldn’t unload USA 17 from the cargo ship due to the breeze. I, along with all of the other journalists were chomping at the bit to get video of the fragile beast being lifted of f of her cradles and set down on the hard by a giant crane. I’ll be heading up there tomorrow and will hopefully get that footage.
Jeremy Leonard, Surf City Racing