America’s Cup: Same Place, Different Boats

Published on September 16th, 2013

By Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
It was only ten years ago, on September 21, 2003, after six days of racing on the San Francisco Bay, that Oracle BMW Racing’s USA 76 narrowly defeated Alinghi (SUI 64) in The Moët Cup.

The event, sailed in the 82- foot International America’s Cup Class, was one of two stops in the United States to build interest in the America’s Cup. And based on this report by Scuttlebutt founder Tom Leweck, it was a great show…
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On the surface, it would appear the Oracle BMW Racing Team was the big winner – but I really don’t see it that way. After experiencing the event first hand, I came away feeling strongly that the big winners were the America’s Cup, the people of San Francisco, the sport of sailing and the entire sailing community.

This was a truly breathtaking event. It was much more than just a regatta – it was a spectacular showcase for our sport. Frequently, more than 300 spectator boats swarmed on the San Francisco Bay to see it first hand, and what a view they got. While the course marshals worked hard to make sure the ACC boats had room to ‘do their thing,’ they did it in such a way to insure that the spectator fleet was still able to get an ‘up close and personal’ look at these amazing racing machines.

Particularly the photo boats. Photo-journalists were allowed to get tightly into the action and came away with shots never possible in other venues. And the conditions on the bay made for some incredible images – bright sun, flat water and 15-20 knots of breeze against a backdrop of the Golden Gate Bridge, the San Francisco skyline and Alcatraz Island. Tasty stuff indeed.

But you did not have to be on the water to see the exciting action. Thousands enthusiastically watched from bleachers erected next to the hosting Golden Gate Yacht Club, or from piers, docks or rocks as the 80-foot racing machines short-tacked the city front in the flood tide conditions. And tens of thousands more watched the spectacular daily television coverage produced by the Outdoor Life Network.
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I don’t know if ten years ago we were satisfied by less, but those 82-foot monohulls put on a pretty good show then. With the close racing in the 34th American’s Cup, the AC72 catamarans are now putting on a great show too. It is hard to compare, given time and the significant investment made now in broadcast tools and spectator venues. Certainly a debate for another day as to what is best for the health of America’s Cup competition…

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