The Maritime Report: For September 19, 2013

The Maritime Report: For September 19, 2013

Dave Bloch

Photo by Dave Bloch.

WE HAVE A REAL REGATTA ON OUR HANDS

At the beginning, it looked like Emirates Team New Zealand was going to run away with the America's Cup. Their boat was killing Oracle Team USA on the long upwind leg toward the Golden Gate Bridge, and they repeatedly used the rules of sailboat racing to force Oracle into making bad moves.

But then Oracle suddenly found their stride. Their engineers made tweaks to their AC72; the sailors studied the data and the videos to see where they could shave a few seconds and get a little more speed. And they won three races, bringing the total score as I write this Tuesday afternoon to ETNZ 7, OTUSA 1. (Oracle had to start with a score of minus-2; part of a penalty for cheating in the AC World Series last year.)

The second race this past Sunday was truly what everyone had been waiting for. Both boats were sailed masterfully, the winds were close to the maximum allowed and there were four lead changes on the upwind leg of the race. The entire race was very close, with New Zealand winning in the end after losing the first race of the day to Oracle.

Tuesday was the first day that the Cup was actually in one team's reach; New Zealand winning two races would have ended the regatta. But the winds built up early and all racing had to be called off. Just a short time before the scheduled start, Americas Cup Events Authority CEO Stephen Barclay announced (in a Tweet; that's how billion-dollar decisions get sent out nowadays) that racing will take place EVERY DAY now until the Cup is won. Wednesday came around and there was a very close and exciting race; ETNZ came out ahead by only 15 seconds. The winds came up and the ebb tide increased; the second race was called off due to the wind limit as the boats were screaming towards the start line. (Once a race actually starts, the wind has to be over the set limit for an average of five minutes to kill a race. But until the starting gun is fired, a much more strict wind rule is in place.)

So as you read this on Thursday morning, New Zealand is ONE race away from taking the Cup back to Auckland. If you can break away at 1 p.m. (take a late lunch!) and get to a TV, it should be an exciting time. And if you are anywhere near Alameda's Park Street business district, get over to:

THE ALAMEDA THEATRE & CINEPLEX - A PERFECT VENUE!

I have now watched the America's Cup, and the "preview" regattas dubbed the America's Cup World Series, almost every free way there is: On a photo/media boat in San Diego, on the deck of the aircraft carrier Midway, along the rocks off of Golden Gate Yacht Club, in the America's Cup Park at Piers 27/29, on a bench and bleachers at Marina Green, on stake boats near the Golden Gate Bridge and one near the eastern leeward mark, from my own sailboat from that same location, from the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Aspen at the leeward mark, from a mark boat near the St. Francis Yacht Club, live on TV from home and from local yacht clubs, and by delayed broadcast on YouTube from all sorts of places on my smartphone.

But I don't think anything beats seeing these races on the big movie screen at the Alameda Theatre. There have been good crowds of Alamedans showing up for every one of the race days so far, and having a great time. (The audience went totally silent when the New Zealand boat almost capsized on Saturday; there were cheers when she came back down to Earth safely.)

The FREE showings start each race day at 1 p.m., and a theater rep has informed me they’ll be showing it every day until the Cup is won.

GARY JOBSON NOW A MEMBER OF OAKLAND YACHT CLUB

NBC commentator Gary Jobson came to Alameda last Friday evening to accept an honorary membership in the Oakland Yacht Club. Mr. Jobson's list of awards and accomplishments is a mile long; he's authored 15 books on sailing; was inducted into the America's Cup Hall of Fame in 2003; has won the Nathanael Herreshoff Trophy, U.S. Sailing's most prestigious award; been president of US Sailing ... it goes on and on. He made a few informal remarks and answered a lot of questions from the appreciative audience. He also successfully predicted that Oracle would win a race the next day!

It's a real honor to have Mr. Jobson on the list of members for Alameda's own Oakland Yacht Club.

AND A BIT OF NEWS FROM ARTEMIS RACING

In today's telecast, it was announced that Artemis is already throwing their hat in the ring as a challenger to America's Cup 35. Iain Piercy, the skipper of the Artemis "Big Blue" catamaran that was finished at the last minute to sail in this year's Louis Vuitton Cup, has been named the team manager. Piercy's comment certainly shows the confidence you need to compete at this level: Artemis' goal is simply "to become the dominant racing team of the next decade."

If the America's Cup, or any other of the big international races, comes back to San Francisco Bay, we'll sure welcome Artemis back to Alameda!