The weather broke in the nick of time, and people turned out from all over to see the dominating performance of Team Australia and Tom Slingsby in the San Francisco SailGP Final. We walked the line with copies of the May issue of Latitude 38 before the 1:30 event opening to discover who was watching and where they were from. There were lots of sailors and lots of Latitude 38 readers, but also lots of folks from farther afield. We spoke with people from Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, Delaware, Wisconsin, New York, Washington, Florida, Texas and more. It was a pretty eclectic crowd. We grabbed some shots of folks with their friends and new Latitudes as they waited for the big show.
A sellout crowd filled the grandstands inside the event area, filled the Golden Gate and St. Francis Yacht Clubs, and had sailors lining the wall along Crissy Field to the west. We had a great time talking with spectators and reminding them that they can pick up their Latitudes at their favorite marine businesses along the California coastline. One sailor said, “I read it online. I didn’t know they printed it anymore.” Dang, we know it’s a busy world and it’s hard to keep track of all the reading out there, so we want to remind you digital readers that the relaxing world of print is as close as your friendly harbormaster or chandler’s office.
Did we draw any conclusions from the stroll along the wall? Sailors are nice people. There were quite a few non-sailors who came as event fans, including one gentleman who said he was in the Navy and asked, “Does that count?” He said, “I remember some ‘sailing’ terms. Port, I think that’s the front of the boat.” Well, all sailors continue to learn, but he may have more to learn than many.
Speed, drama, close calls and world-renowned skippers assembled this far-flung crowd of sailors. Many were cruisers, and the youth were often dinghy, skiff and foiling fans. Speed does get attention, but for the sailors in attendance, a comfortable daysail on a Catalina 27 still appeared to be the main attraction for participating. Are non-sailing spectators ever going to find their way to a sailboat, or is this just another channel on the remote?
Sailing at 50 knots is not for everyone, but regardless of how you like to sail or even if you don’t sail at all, SailGP remains a dramatic spectacle for the shoreside crowd. Season 4 kicks off in Chicago on the weekend of June 16–17, with hints that a 10th team will join the fray. Following that, SailGP comes right back to California with an event on July 22–23 in Los Angeles. See you there?