Although precise plans for the 35th America’s Cup are far from being set in stone, Larry Ellison, backer of the current defending champion Oracle Team USA, has revealed his grand vision for the next Cup competition and the battery of preliminary races that will lead up to it.
In today’s San Francisco Chronicle, reporter Julian Guthrie (author of the best-selling Ellison profile The Billionaire and the Mechanic) laid out the three-year chronology of the new plan. Currently, it does not name San Francisco as the ultimate AC 35 battleground. However, negotiations toward that end are ongoing.
Building on his AC 34 goal of making high-end yacht racing appealing to millions of non-sailing sports fans around the world (in addition to sailors of all stripes), Ellison proposes a series of AC45 competitions beginning next year, staged in every country that fields a team — 10 or more destinations. The top two teams from both the Atlantic and Pacific divisions would compete in division championships in the spring of 2017, potentially in Rome and Shanghai (respectively).
That summer, division champs would race in AC60s — the new America’s Cup cat class — in the Louis Vuitton Cup in Honolulu. The America’s Cup finals would follow in the same venue.
Why Honolulu? Again, negotiations are ongoing with the City of San Francisco and perhaps also Newport, RI. But Ellison has long had a strong affinity for Hawaii, evidenced by the fact that he bought the island of Lanai in 2012 for $300 million.
While we applaud the plan as being more creative and inclusive (in terms of multiple race venues) than ever before, two questions immediately come to mind: 1) If the AC45 finals will happen in the spring of 2017, only then deciding contenders for the LVC that same summer, how will potential contenders know whether (and when) to build an AC60? 2) If San Francisco’s typical summer winds were sometimes too strong for AC72s, won’t Hawaii’s equally strong breezes be too much for AC60s?
In any case, we wish Ellison the best of luck in pulling off this ambitious game plan, and realizing his ultimate goal of making sailboat racing popular with mainstream audiences. He told Guthrie, "We want to create a 21st-century sports business that will support sailing professionals and their families. Businesses that don’t make money are not sustainable. Sports that don’t make money are just hobbies for rich guys." He certainly ought to know.
Warm temperatures and light breeze had some observers wondering if any boats would start this year’s Big Daddy Regatta, hosted by Richmond YC. Yet, despite the challenging conditions, race organizers did their best to get boats around the courses.
Saturday’s racing took place on two courses between the Berkeley Pier and Southampton Shoal. Traditionally, three races are held on each of the courses. Unfortunately, conditions were such that only two races could be run on two of the courses. The course for the deep-draft boats had the least amount of wind, scuttling any racing for the PHRF A-E and the SF Bay 30 fleets, despite an optimistic starting gun for a few of the fleets.
Sunday’s pursuit race around Angel and Alcatraz Islands — in either direction — proved challenging as well. The strong ebb brought counterclockwise competitors through Raccoon Strait with a light northerly and a good ebb. Getting around Alcatraz proved more challenging, though.
John Clauser’s Bodacious+ crew decided that if they could fly a kite from the start to Alcatraz, clockwise was the direction of the day. John also reckoned that once they got up to Raccoon Strait the adverse ebb would diminish, which it did. Inside the strait, John saw close competition between his boat, David Rasmussen’s Sapphire and Kame Richards’ Golden Moon. Instead of hugging Angel Island’s beaches for current relief, he went for more breeze in the middle and found beneficial current on the Marin shore. The same northerly that filled in for two of the courses on Saturday held Sunday afternoon and, with a code zero flying, Bodacious+ sailed to the finish for the win.
As we noted last week and in March’s Sightings, registration for this year’s Delta Doo Dah will open tomorrow, March 11, at noon at www.deltadoodah.com. Once again, the event will be a do-it-yourself affair that runs from May 24 through September 7 and is open to all, but that doesn’t mean you should wait to get your summer plans firmed up. There’s plenty to do up-Delta all summer, and if you don’t set up marina reservations in advance, you might miss out.
Take Isleton’s Cajun & Blues Festival, for example. This annual music and food extravaganza runs June 14-15 directly across from B&W Resort on the Mokelumne River on Brannan Island. Now one might think that with so many keelboat-accessible marinas on the Delta Loop — B&W, Lighthouse, Willow Berm, Korth’s, Spindrift and Owl Harbor — finding a guest berth at the last minute wouldn’t be an issue. But we’d bet good money that hundreds of boaters will be making plans early to take their dads out for a good time on Father’s Day weekend!
To make the weekend extra-tasty for Doo Dah’ers, Owl Harbor Marina‘s harbormaster Devery Stockon is planning a very special event to coincide with the Cajun & Blues Festival. On June 14, she and her fabulous staff will be putting on a BBQ lunch under the cover of a tent, complete with a band, dancing and prizes. "That will leave time for folks to catch the shuttle to the festival to enjoy an evening of music," she said, noting that the free shuttle will stop at select businesses along the Delta Loop on its way to the venue.
But there’s a catch: The party is only open to Owl Harbor tenants and registered Delta Doo Dah’ers — Devery will not be taking non-Doo Dah reservations for that weekend at all! But registration for the Delta Doo Dah is free and easy, and Devery recommends making your reservations at Owl Harbor early as guest berthing is very limited. You can contact her at (916) 777-6055 or via email.
As a longtime sponsor of the event, Owl Harbor will be offering Doo Dah’ers a special summer-long discount of 50% off your second night, with a two-night minimum. This is on top of everything else they have to offer — free use of bikes to ride around the property, free farm-fresh eggs from the marina’s hens, free veggies from the community garden ‘produce stand,’ free use of horseshoe pits, BBQ pits and picnic areas, and a friendly, laid-back atmosphere. The stunning sunsets and the hooting of resident owls are Mother Nature’s contributions to the marina’s charms. "When Doo Dah’ers come to the office to check in," adds Devery, "they’ll also get a special gift!"
If you’re planning a trip to the Delta this summer anyway — or your yacht club is planning a cruise-out — sign up for the Doo Dah and take advantage of sponsors’ great offers. You can stay up-to-date on all the goings-on at www.facebook.com/deltadoodah. And do yourself a favor — don’t wait!
California and Mexican yacht clubs are gearing up for a month’s worth of exciting, sun-drenched racing. Despite the unfortunate situation facing cruisers in Mexico earlier this year, registration for the following races is looking strong and the turnouts should be great.
Racing this month —
- 12-15, Vallarta YC hosts the 22nd annual Banderas Bay International Regatta — a fun series of fun races for cruisers.
- 13-22, San Diego YC kicks-off the San Diego to Vallarta race sending racers 1,000 miles south to Marina La Cruz.
- 16-23, Marina La Cruz, Vallarta YC and the Mexican Sailing Federation team-up to host the J/24 North American Championships.
- 24-29, MEXORC, or the Mexican Ocean Racing Class regatta takes place on beautiful Banderas Bay.
We’ll be covering MEXORC at the end of the month, so stay tuned for more details as there will be some exciting big-boat and sled racing taking place!