If you didn’t get your fill of international sportsmanship with the London Olympics, let me turn you on to America’s Cup sailing. The crews and catamarans are here in SF, and the best part is, they will be here through this time next year. I have 365+ days to better understand why the heck they sail these fiberglass canoes connected with a net instead of the grand old wooden hulls with shiny brass trimmings.
Anyway, it turns out the freaky weather/ winds in the SF Bay are conducive to sailing. Not so great for dining alfresco, and not hospitable to fireflies, but good for something.
When I moved to Alameda, I lucked into a great apartment with a view of sailboats in the Ballena Marina, so I tried to get into the local boat culture.
I groupon’ed for sailing lessons in Redwood City, and managed to actually attend one of two full-day sessions before skipping out on becoming a full-fledged skipper. Turns out I’d rather just go along for the ride than hoist the sail.
The America’s Cup is perfect for a land-lubber like me. When watching on television, they graphically superimpose the start, finish and turning points, so even a novice (I mean me) can understand how close they are to a first-down… oops, I mean, to first place.
Today I got to see a little of the America’s Cup in person. It’s the practice day before a week of the World Series regatta. Tickets are sold out for the weekend so today was my chance to beat the crowds. I hoped I could get to the souvenir booth and take a couple of good pictures of sails.
I cut out early from work, grabbed my dog and headed down to Marina Green near Crissy Field in my old jeep (see yesterday’s post). I made great time into the city, took my chances parking illegally at Fort Mason, and followed the top of the 70 foot Prada Italian sail to the heart of the hubub.
I easily found the Puma pop-up shop, official outfitter of Oracle Team USA. I had researched the America’s Cup merchandise online here http://shop.americascup.com/ and budgeted to buy a black zip-up jacket for a budget-stretching $75. The Puma Oracle black fleece was $120! No way I could justify that, so I moved on to the AC (that’s what the super chic sales staff called it) shop. Wouldn’t you know the jacket I had my eye on was sold out on Day One?!
Instead I got a long-sleeve tshirt in royal blue that features San Francisco 2013. It was $35 so I might still be able to afford to order the black jacket online.
With my swag in hand, Cokie (my dog) and I posed for some pics (thanks perfect strangers, for your decent camera skills) and lucked into seeing Team Artemis finishing up for the day. Artemis is my personal favorite for three reasons: first, they are staying in Alameda for the year (good for the local economy and ambient cool factor); second, a sorority sister is actually employed by the team so I’m like, you know, two degrees of separation (ha ha ha); and finally they represent Sweden, and I have a little swedish blood in my body, about 25% on my paternal side. Reason enough, right?!
I watched Team Artemis pack up their sail and disembark. I read the back of their red shirts, not knowing who’s who. I just happened to pick up a free card by the register in the merch shop with the skippers of each team. With it in hand, I spotted Hutchinson, the team lead, and was bold enough to ask Terry for an autograph. He obliged, and we briefly talked about our mutual lovely Alameda. Why didn’t I ask if he needed a ride home, or if he wanted a personal tour of the redboxes and laundromats on the island?! Next time I’ll be ready!
I plan to head back on Saturday, just to see if I can even get close to the action like I did today. I know it will be packed, and I may have to just watch it on tv. But I will wear my shirt proudly, full of America’s Cup fever, and with a greater appreciation of the sport. Go Team Artemis! May you be the best sailors with the fastest boats!
For more AC info, head to http://blog.sfgate.com/americascup/2012/08/14/americas-cup-world-series-comes-to-san-francisco/