June 12, 2014

The City Out of America’s Cup Contention

We’re not sure if it’s polite to dump someone by email, but that’s the method that Oracle’s Russell Coutts used to inform Mayor Ed Lee that San Francisco would not be the site of the next America’s Cup.

That’s a shame, for as was proven in the Finals of the last America’s Cup, San Francisco Bay is the ideal place for the competition. The sailing conditions were fantastic, the spectating and interaction between the participants and fans was superb, and San Francisco was never presented in a more favorable light. Sailing and San Francisco were both big winners.

That the America’s Cup organizers and San Francisco failed to reach an agreement for the next America’s Cup is hardly surprising, as relations between the two, and between Oracle Team USA and large segments of the city’s whiny residents, were never good. Ellison and Coutts seemed to think that San Francisco wasn’t supportive enough, and detractors pointed to the fact the last Cup supposedly cost San Francisco $11 million — a laughably small sum that isn’t even equivalent to the pensions of three or four of the legions of underworked and overpaid city employees.

Perhaps the biggest problem was that Ellison, worth untold billions, and the City, on fire with social media and tech money, as well as the darling of tourists the world over, don’t really need each other. Both are sitting fat and pretty on their own.

The loss of San Francisco as a potential America’s Cup site leaves three less-than-inspiring sites in contention: San Diego, Bermuda and Chicago. San Diego is a wonderful place, but simply doesn’t have the challenging winds for a proper America’s Cup. It would be like holding the Masters Golf Tournament at a dried-out muni course. Or the Winter Olympics at Dodge Ridge. Bermuda? While the sailing can be nice, the tiny little place is the antithesis of cosmopolitan, and is so overcrowded that residents are only allowed one car per house. That leaves Chicago, which we think would be the best choice of the three. The freshwater sailing can actually be quite good, and while there aren’t a lot of sailors in some parts of the Midwest, we think the America’s Cup is the kind of world-class event that even non-sailors could enthusiastically get behind.

So all we Northern Californians are left with are memories of the 34th America’s Cup. But what great memories! While the buildup and Louis Vuitton Semifinals were a flop, and there was farce and tragedy, the AC 34 Finals were the most unique and earthshaking in sailing. And Oracle Team USA’s victory after being down 1-8 was the greatest comeback in sports. If there is a silver lining to the dark cloud of San Francisco’s not being selected as the site of the next America’s Cup, it’s that no future America’s Cup will be able to live up to the drama and excitement of the Cup competition that was held on San Francisco Bay.

Sir Russell Coutts (l) and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee shake hands after agreeing to bring the 34th America’s Cup to San Francisco in 2013.
A great group of women circumnavigators-to-be lunching at Bora Bora. Left front: Laurie (and Richard) Owen on Nexus, a US-based 58-ft semi-custom cat; Left back: Jenny (and Jonathan) Crowe on Merlyn of Poole, an Oyster 45 from Great Britain; Back center: Suzana Buraca, World ARC Rally Control; Right back: Cathy (and Charlie) Simon of the Spokane / Nuevo Vallarta-based Taswell 58 Celebrate; Next right: Sandra (and Tom) Frank on Sweet Pear, a Switzerland based Outborn 44l; Right center: Dawn (and Michael) Roberts on ViVo, a US-based F/P 60-foot cat; Right front: Tracey (and Tim) Ramsey on Folie a Deux, a U.S.-based Lagoon 380.
The US Coast Guard is tasked with keeping American waterways as safe as possible, and one of the latest manifestations of that responsibility is the development of ‘virtual’ nav symbols designed to show up on electronic charts and AIS monitors.