boats with a medic aboard and a diver suited up and ready
to jump in an emergency.
The wings, 131 feet tall and built of plastic skin over
cored-carbon tubing, put out 40 percent more power per
square foot than a conventional soft sail. The organizers
know now that to sail here, they’ve over-achieved, but it’s
too late to rewind. We’re in, and it’s on.
Why We Rock
San Francisco Bay, like the rest of the region, has its micro-
climates. We know about the windy, chilly West Bay, where
the America’s Cup races will run in a corridor between the
city front and a line of picket boats, starting off Crissy Field,
making a few laps and probably finishing near the newcruise
ship terminal at Pier 27, where there is at least a small
chance of running out of wind. Someone else, meanwhile,
will be moored in Ayala Cove at Angel Island, enjoying a sun
bubble free of — oooh, did we mention fog? The summer of
When Larry Ellison’s team of
sailors brought the America’s Cup
to San Francisco Bay, there was no
thought of placing the racecourse
anywhere but right in the maw of
the Golden Gate wind funnel.
A view of the Tiburon
shoreline with the
Golden Gate Bridge
in the background.
Many Marin residents
will enjoy spectacular
views of the race.
2010, right after Ellison had won the Cup in the name of the
Golden Gate Yacht Club, was one of those years. It’s a dirty
little secret that had we been running races in 2010, nobody
would have seen a thing. We don’t need a repeat of 2010. But
the fog is a great character in the dramas of San Francisco
Bay. It does not come on little cat feet. No, we get the whole
cat. It can be overwhelming, or it can come as a whimsical
kinetic sculpture, wafting around the towers of the bridge,
teasing the corners of Alcatraz, retreating, sneaking, almost
alive. It is, of course, moist air from the Pacific, chilled below
its dew point, that creates the fog, and it’s the foghorns that
create the symphony of the bay.
This is a challenging place for a boat, whether power, sail
or paddle-powered. But no other is more rewarding. There
are many places where it is nice to get out on the water. San
Francisco Bay is not “nice.” It has its golden, serene moments.
Certainly it has its calm mornings, with the hills rising above
the bay and the towers of commerce towering over the hills.
But the people who truly inhabit San Francisco Bay are out
there after the breeze kicks in. They’re used to getting kicked,
they’re braced for it, and they keep coming back. Because San
Francisco Bay is not merely a place. It is not merely a body of
water. It is visceral. It is a passion. M