The Maritime Report: America's Cup update

The Maritime Report: America's Cup update

Dave Bloch

Photos by Dave Bloch.

THE ONE AND ONLY REAL AMERICA'S CUP

Your reporter is just back from being on a stake boat, in this case a power boat with skipper and several crew all from the Oakland Yacht Club (which readers of this column are aware is in Alameda). It was a windy, blustery day out there, but bright and sunny and great for sailboat racing! The stake boats are either owned by the America's Cup organization or are local boats owned and staffed by volunteers; they fly bright red flags and mark the edges and corners of the cordoned-off race course on the central Bay.

Our boat was anchored a few hundred yards east of Alcatraz, marking part of the northern boundary. From there we had a great view of the Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand boats as they flew towards the downwind marks. Oracle had the clear lead on that second leg of the race, but threw it away with some badly-timed tacks on the upwind leg. New Zealand passed Oracle not far from Alcatraz and extended that lead through the rest of the race.

As we had lunch during the break, the race commentators announced that Oracle was playing their "postponement card" and the second race of the day was canceled. Each team has only one of these "cards" to play during the entire regatta. There was speculation that Oracle might have something broken on their boat, but Skipper Jimmy Spithill later told the press, "We need to go back and regroup. We feel they have an edge on us at the moment, especially upwind. We need to do a bit of work here and we’re going to play the card, strategically, and hopefully improve in time for the next race."

Sometimes you just have to cut your losses, lean back and take a deep breath; that sounds like what Oracle is doing. They are behind four points to minus-one point (due to their two-point penalty for cheating in the America's Cup World Series); the first team to reach nine points is the winner.

So it was an exciting day for us on the boat, but race-cancelation days always leave everyone a bit deflated. The postponement does mean that the regatta will last at least until Sunday.

MEANWHILE, THE ENTIRE REGATTA

... has really been great. I watched Saturday's races on television (NBC carries the weekend races on their main network and the weekday races on the NBC Sports cable network), Sunday's on the YouTube delayed broadcast (no commercials!) and Tuesday's one race out on the Bay. There is a real thrill watching the AC72s flying on their foils, especially when they're coming right at you. The TV commentators are doing their best to explain what's going on and the LiveLine graphics are a huge help with that. You absolutely do not have to be a sailor to follow these races.

Here in Alameda we have a unique opportunity: The Alameda Theatre & Cineplex is showing all the races live in HD. All the showings are free, but seats are limited! I'm hoping the regatta runs enough days that I can get there and experience seeing the boats towering over the audience.

So, add the theater to all the other free ways you can watch the America's Cup: on TV at home, or at a restaurant, bar or yacht club; from the water's edge off Marina Green, or at the tip of Piers 27/29. If you or a friend have a boat, you can go out and brave the wind, currents and other boats for a chance to get really up close to the AC72s. And then there are all those paid ways to watch, from bleacher seats to private suites.

It's here now; it may never be again. And Oracle has not, by any means, given this up to New Zealand.