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The old and the new. Both benchmarks of sailing innovation, the schooner America crosses paths with Team USA Oracle.

America’s Cup Redemption?

A little while back I wrote a post about how the America’s Cup was becoming a total bust. Well, after two days of watching the America’s Cup finals I may have to stubbornly amend my thoughts just a little bit about the racing. Throughout the entire Louis Vuitton series I’d hardly describe my attitude towards the racing one of enthusiasm . Instead, I’d find myself trying to hide from the action (or lack thereof) as often as possible. I’d go fishing, ride my bike up into the headlands, hide in cafes on the computer, do anything that would excuse me from supporting the event. The one boat racing was not exactly at the top of my agenda and I didn’t foresee my opinion of the America’s Cup events changing.

Day one of the America’s Cup I had a charter scheduled. I knew the people I was taking out and was stoked to be getting out on the water with them, and stoked that they were stoked about the racing, but I was still not all that excited about the racing in and of itself.

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Good morning neighbor

About 0600 the morning of the first day  of the America’s Cup I was rocked awake by the wake of a fishing boat. The Eastern horizon was starting to glow as dawn approached. The air was fresh but warm, the birds were chirping, the fishing fleet was heading out to sea. Anchored across the channel were three several hundred foot long mega yachts, including Larry Ellison’s monster. The Sausalito Yacht Club moorings were filled with visiting boats here to watch the racing. I felt excited to be alive. I felt excited about the race. What had gotten into me?

Back in the day I used to race sailboats. A lot. It’s really all I did for quite some time. I suppose it’s like any sport when you wake up the morning of a big race, or game, or match, you wake up fueled with adrenaline and it’s game time. You live for this moment. As much as I love the cruising life and sailing big heavy boats, I have to admit I kind of miss the rush and the competition of racing.

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New Zealand and Prada racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup. The start was exciting but after the first mark the race was really a no contest.

So I got my chubby butt onto the foredeck and did some pushups while the sun rose over the horizon. It’s game time, time to get pumped for some racing… or at least some race watching. Rig up cockpit speakers, get the fresh batch of ginger beer on ice, shine up the decks, get the sails ready, dump a bucket of sea water on my head and call that a shower. This was gong to be an insanely awesome day.

I was fully expecting race one to predict the outcome of the entire best of 17 series. Two boats of completely new and different radical designs from opposite ends of the earth, it seemed unlikely that the races would be close. Especially after watching the Louis Vuitton series where it was common to see the second place boat finish so far behind that the race committee would qualify their standing as “Did Not Finish.” I fully expected race one of the series to be a clear predictor of the entire series.

The old and the new. Both benchmarks of sailing innovation, the schooner America crosses paths with Team USA Oracle.

The old and the new. Both benchmarks of sailing innovation, the schooner America crosses paths with Team USA Oracle.

I was wrong. The race was actually a race. WHAT?! A race?! Yeah! Sure New Zealand spanked Oracle team USA on the first day, but with overlaps, lead changes, and mark roundings so close that boat to boat contact occurred, I’d call this a race and the racing for the most part was actually pretty exciting. However truth be told, the real excitement was in the spectator fleet as boats vied for front row seats. Boats on collision courses from all directions with eyes fixed on the America’s Cup boats while course security boats would try and corral us off of the course like an unruly heard of cattle. It was a shit show.

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What?! This looks like a race to me… finally!

The next day, day two of the America’s Cup, I awoke a bit later in the day. I may or may not have been a touch hung over. I didn’t have a charter and really had no intentions of going out to the races. It was just so freaking nice out though. I felt like I got run over by a truck and didn’t want to a damn thing. I didn’t even really have much to drink the night before, perhaps I finally overdosed on awesome ceviche. As the sun shone in the butterfly hatch relentlessly I finally surrendered, got up, and splashed a bucket of water on my head. Screw it. I remembered yesterday there was a boat criss crossing in and out of the spectator fleet under sail power having the time of their lives. Of course the boat was full of bare breasted women and the best I could round up was a bare breasted Geoff, but sailing still sounded fun. Screw motors.

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Team New Zealand screaming towards us at 40 something knots. Holy. Crap.

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Oracle Team USA foiling downwind towards Alcatraz

I made a jar of coffee, slapped some sunscreen on my back, hoisted anchor and sailed out to the race course. HOLY CRAP! So nice out and so fun! Hangover gone and replaced with a perma smile. I was a sailing fool and everyone knew it. As I’d singlehand in and out of the spectator fleet with the rail dipping in the water I’d get fist pumps and thumbs up from everyone. The fog was rolling in thick across the race course but the weather was warm. I made it the entire day sailing in 20-25 knots of breeze on San Francisco Bay without need of even a shirt. I could get used to this. Oh, yeah,I hear the racing was pretty good as well.

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The racing is fun, but straight up screwing around and sailing was freaking awesome!

After Oracle finally beat New Zealand in race 4 of the series, I sailed across the bay to San Francisco and anchored in Aquatic Park for the hell of it. So that’s where I’m at now. Hmm. Now what?

 

 

Geoff