America’s Cup – Breaking Down The Breakdown

Published on November 6th, 2013

By Erik Simonson, Pressure Drop
Setting up and running a cycle of the America’s Cup is a monster of a project. The aftermath of the party is an equally daunting process. With a huge footprint that extended from the Marina Green all along the Embarcadero, and down to Pier 80 in the Dogpatch, the job was a big one and hardly attracted any attention.

Julien DiBiase, the logistics man for Oracle Racing has been busy, very busy. Working in concert with members from other syndicates, ACRM (AC Race Management) and ACEA (AC Event Authority), Julien and colleagues began the process back in July with meetings weekly on the subject and how to quickly and effectively deconstruct the Cup facilities.

“With Marina Green it was very simple,” Julien says. “The grandstands, containers and vendor were almost all sub contracted out, and once we gave them a tear down date, they were able to come in and remove their property. It made it really easy for us. Some of the property which was purchased by ACEA was put on auction, and relocated to Pier 27-29 for bid winner to claim the week after.”

Moving east to Pier 27 -29, the disassembly began the morning after the Cup finally ended (on Sept. 25). Once again the container vendors and merchandise vendors quickly moved in to remove their property. “It was important that we moved quickly and efficiently to clean up after ourselves, in order to keep our promise with the City as well to remain in the good graces with the Port of San Francisco and the Board of Supervisors, especially considering we might be hosting the next cycle in San Francisco,” Julien adds.

Indeed, on a visit to the once crowded bustling AC Park site just a few days after the Cup ended, crews had already removed the piers, the temporary buildings had all been removed and only the AC Pavilion looked like it was still intact. Next door at Piers 19 and 23, there was but a skeleton crew moving about, and the receptionist at ACEA HQ indicated that they would be completely relocated to Pier 80 by November 1st.

A bit further south, Luna Rossa and ETNZ shore teams had gone into overdrive, quickly dismantling their tents, packing their containers, disassembling the wings and packaging for the container ship ride back to their home ports. “We really appreciated the effort put in by those teams,” Julien comments. “We wanted to give back the piers to the city ASAP and ETNZ and Luna Rossa did a fantastic job packing up so we could get any repairs and last minute clean ups done in a short period of time.”

Moving a bit further south to Pier 80 and Oracle Team USA Racing HQ, work decommissioning the base was quickly started as well. “We had a breakdown crew for a short period of time only, and we wanted to reduce our footprint as well, and return to the Port of San Francisco as much of the property as we could, as quickly as possible,” said Julien. “Many of the boats we used were rented and many of the containers as well, were returned to their owners.”

Things have slowed down dramatically at Pier 80, with just a bare bones crew moving the base into basic winter hibernation. The crane was disassembled, ACRM and Oracle Racing owned boats winterized, shrink wrapped and put away inside the shed. The few ACRM and ACEA managers still active sharing office space with Oracle Racing until a decision on where, when and what format the next cycle will be.

On the front of Dogzilla (US17), the massive trimaran which won the 33rd America’s Cup in Valencia, its fate is still in limbo. Sources close to Oracle Racing have indicated she would be relocated from Pier 80 to the lagoon at the Oracle campus in Redwood Shores earlier this fall. However, there were apparently some hiccups in the process and it involves government agencies.

The current status is it remains in purgatory, and had Oracle Racing lost the Cup and needed to vacate Pier 80 completely, a more urgent push may have ensued, but as things remain in flux with the next Cup cycle, Dogzilla will have to “sit and stay” a tad longer. When she does move will it be via air? “We can’t float her to the lagoon” responded Julien when queried, “and we would have to cut her up to get her there via highway”. For now, the spectacle of a Flying Dogzilla is on a short leash.

Across the bay, will Alameda factor in? That too remains in limbo. Closed door negotiations between the City of Alameda and ACEA are mum at this point. Kame Richards, who assisted with landing Artemis and Luna Rossa to locate at the Sea Plane lagoon site for this past cycle, indicates that at this point, nobody’s made any decisive moves.

“It was clear that the America’s Cup people were not happy that Artemis and Luna Rossa came to Alameda, as they wanted to keep the bases all in one location in San Francisco, but the reality is it didn’t work out that way.”

Will Alameda play a part in the next cycle? That too remains unclear, and negotiations between the City of SF, the Port of SF, and ACEA continue. Artemis appears to be staying at their current location, as Google X has decided on a different parcel at Alameda Point. Certainly the Seaplane harbor could provide the space needed to host an America’s Cup Village, but will that opportunity ever come to fruition?

What about Lanai? The island paradise just west of Maui has been rumored to be a possibility. When asked his opinion on the possibility, Julien was somewhat non committal.”It’s a nice place but there’s a lot going on there right now, with the remodeling of the hotels and other projects, but it would take quite a bit of work for hosting an America’s Cup.”

Well, he didn’t say absolutely not or impossible.

For now, it’s just wait and see. An official announcement on the location and format for AC 35 is expected after the first of the year.

Editor’s note: Besides his work as a local photographer for San Francisco Bay sailing, Erik has been a constant source of information during the 34th America’s Cup. Scuttlebutt thanks Erik for all his contributions during this past Cup cycle.

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