The Maritime Report: The coming Fiasco

The Maritime Report: The coming Fiasco

Dave Bloch

Photo by Dave Bloch.

"Summertime, and the livin' is easy..." Except it's the second week of January, and in spite of the warm weather, sailing events really slow down this time of year. Still, there are some races happening on the estuary during the winter months, and the Three Bridge Fiasco - the biggest race of the year in terms of the number of entries - will bring several hundred boats out onto San Francisco Bay to run a race course under the Bay, Golden Gate and Richmond bridges. (The "Fiasco" part is that the skippers can do the course in either direction, resulting in some interesting encounters throughout the day.)

Oakland Yacht Club marked the end of their 100th anniversary year on New Year's Eve by announcing that a time capsule will be inserted into a wall of the clubhouse (our water table is too high for burial). The sealed plastic box contains about lots of items, including the 100-year version of the club burgee, several photographs, lists of members and past commodores, and a collection of biographies of OYC notables including perhaps the club's most famous member, Jack London (member 1913-1916). There will a lot of fun stuff here for the OYC members of 2113!


The next America's Cup will most likely take place in 2017, but the City of Alameda is not resting on its laurels (or whatever sailors rest on). In November, the City Council decided to keep the America's Cup Ad Hoc Citizens Advisory Committee (on which this reporter serves) active at least until the announcement of where the next regatta will be held. That announcement is expected in late March, and Alameda's committee held its first meeting of the year last Thursday.

AC34 teams Oracle Team USA, Emirates New Zealand and Luna Rossa have already each received a letter from Alameda Mayor Marie Gilmore, "welcoming the opportunity to support (each team's) planning efforts." (Artemis Racing still has their hangar at Alameda Point, and some Artemis team member families are still living here.) Unlike the last time when hardly anyone in this elite community had heard of our city, Alameda has now been included in countless news stories around the world. Positive messages have been taken back to home countries by many members of the two teams who were based here (as well as some others who wished they were).

There is a lot of hope that the next regatta will be made more affordable, thus bringing more teams in to the Challengers' series (which may or may not still be the Louis Vuitton Cup). There has been lots of conjecture about things like whether some kind of "national team" rule (requiring some percentage of the sailors to be from the home country) will be implemented, about the size and configuration of the boats, whether the wing rather than soft mainsail will be continued, and many more.

But the big single thing that we are all waiting for is whether Larry Ellison and Oracle Racing will decide to bring the regatta back to the San Francisco Bay. Alameda will be ready for that decision, with the advisory committee scheduled to meet again in early April. If the word is "San Francisco," the work to attract teams to the city will begin.