The Maritime Report for April 18, 2013

The Maritime Report for April 18, 2013

Dave Bloch

Photos by Dave Bloch.

STRICTLY SAIL WEEKEND

The largest sailboat show on the West Coast took place at Jack London Square in Oakland for four days this past weekend. Thousands of visitors wandered around looking at boats (big and small) and all the STUFF you can buy for them. There were also booths by yacht clubs (three of Alameda's seven were there), boat financing and insurance companies, independent authors, magazines and sailing schools.

I was working in a yacht club booth for most of Thursday and Friday. I enjoy the friendliness of people involved in sailing; there's always some story or experience to share, often with some advice to go along with it. (Sailors are FULL of advice - about anything!) All four days were sunny, warm and breezy, so it was a real pleasure to have an outside tent rather than one of the booths inside the Jack London Marketplace building.

There was so much to spent money on, from a million-dollar-plus 56-foot yacht to a two-dollar plastic doodad that lets you hang your washcloth on a rail to dry. My wife and I spent just about a "boat buck" over the weekend on things we need as we prepare to sail away next year. A boat buck is $1,000, and it is very easy to part with them at a big boat show like this! But it's fun to talk with the vendors, some of whom are very small businesses selling an item they designed and manufacture, one at a time, just for you. (I'll probably spend most of a week hand-sewing our new leather steering wheel glove when it arrives, cut to fit perfectly around our wheel.)

There were over 100 seminars too, and we took in a couple of them, including a guide to the Baja Ha-Ha rally that leaves every October for Cabo San Lucas at the tip of Baja California. This huge event draws upwards of 200 boats every year from the whole West Coast, who gather in San Diego and take about ten days to make the 750-mile trip. Many sailors use the Ha-Ha as the first leg in a much longer cruise; it's a way to "shake down" a new boat (and/or its new crew) with lots of help around in case of problems. My wife and I will be doing exactly this in 2014: heading to Baja with the rally and then continuing on, exploring the west coast of Mexico and Central America, then traversing the Panama Canal and heading up the other side to the Gulf of Mexico.

One group of young men that it was great to see walking around was the American Youth Sailing Force, one of the two American teams who will compete in early September in the first Red Bull Youth America's Cup. The teams are made up of 19- to 24-year-olds from countries around the world. Unlike the America's Cup itself, these teams must be made up of residents of the entering country, so there will be some real international pride at stake in these races. The AYSF team is actively looking for commercial sponsors plus individual donations to help get them through the training and the races. There is a big fundraising dinner and auction scheduled for May 16 at the Richmond Yacht Club; get info on this and everything about the team at http://americanyouthsailingforce.com.

ALAMEDA BUSINESSES AND THE CUP

About two dozen representatives and owners of Alameda businesses and organizations gathered last Thursday morning for a presentation by Jack Griffin, owner of CupExperience.com and a long-time adviser, speaker and writer on America's Cup events. In town to give presentations at Strictly Sail, Jack came across the Estuary especially to help out on our Island.

Jack took our audience through a brief history, going all the way back to the very first race in England where the winning yacht "America" gave the trophy its name. Jack pointed out some of the opportunities that the Cup events give to businesses looking for ways to expand their market, reward employees, or entertain clients. Although a private tent on the north shore of San Francisco runs many thousands of dollars, grandstand seats for many events are only $15! In between are many options for enjoying a day out including watching from the historic Victory Ship the Jeremiah O'Brien, taking a group on a commercial cruise vessel (like Alameda's Commodore Events fleet), or just finding a friend with a boat who'd like to go out for an afternoon.

As many have discovered, the best way to actually watch the races in detail is on television, and the media has been told that every race, starting July 7, will be televised, at the very least via a video stream accessible at http://americascup.com. So you can gather a group at a home, a business or a yacht club (where there will be folks around who can explain more of what's going on) and enjoy the races with the amazing on-water graphics invented by Stan Honey.

The America's Cup World Series races will be going on in Naples Italy when you read this on Thursday April 18, so there's some exciting stuff to watch! Thousands will show up for these races and the video produced by the AC folks should be exciting. Go to http://americascup.com and there will be links right on the home page to watch the programs.

Sailing season is ramping up, with the Opening Day on the Bay coming April 28! Will you join us this summer on the water?