Despite bad press, the America’s Cup is by far
the best bet for entertainment. BY JIM WOOD
America’s Cup Village on
Marina Green is the best
place to view the huge boats
competing. And man, do
one of those behemoths dig a bow into the bay,
your heart skips a beat.
Currently, most of the action is at America’s
Cup Park at Piers 27/29, midway bet ween the
Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf (take
a ferry, it’s a great way to go; no parking worries). And again, admission is free. Frankly, I
get a kick out of opulence — and it’s definitely
here. Among the superyachts tied up are Larry
Ellison’s 288-foot Musashi; nearby is Asahi, his
171-foot sailboat. Keep walking and the pier jut-
ting into the bay is the racecourse’s finish line.
Again, numerous Jumbotrons keep you
apprised of the action on the bay; plus there
are sports boutiques (check out the bar and
cafe atop the Puma clothing shop) and indoor/
outdoor refreshment venues where the people-watching is world class. Fair warning: Food
and drink are pricey, but the surroundings —
music, games, exhibits and accommodations
— are all top of the line (and free). The complex
also includes the 9,000-seat America’s Cup
Pavilion, where Sting, the Doobie Brothers,
the San Francisco Symphony and Cheech and
Chong have already appeared; Marin’s Sammy
Hagar and the Wabos will be there on Saturday
night, September 17th.
Oops, almost forgot — the races:
September 1– 4 is the Red Bull Youth
America’s Cup involving 10 national teams
with crews of 19- to 24-year-olds sailing the
smaller but still humongous AC45 boats (the
town of Tiburon is sponsoring the team representing America). On September 7, the big
boys go at it for two weeks: two races a day.
My money is on Emirates Team New Zealand
to win the Louis Vuitton Cup and sail against
defending champ Oracle Team USA in the
finals. Oracle will take it all, which could
mean the America’s Cup will be coming back
to San Francisco in the future.
Despite some setbacks, the Bay Area is for-
tunate to be hosting the America’s Cup; it’s a
162-year-old sporting event that’s a true 21st-
century spectacle. That’s my point of view.
EVERY SUMMER, I describe four or five places to take visiting rela- tives. This year there’s only one: the America’s Cup spectacle on San Francisco’s Embarcadero
and at Marina Green.
Okay, the America’s Cup has gotten bad
press — too few teams, too much money, etc.
— but don’t believe everything you read. And
trust me, no one asked (or told) me to write
this. I’ve visited both sites and they’re about
more than just sailing. These are fun spots
to, well, hang out. Best yet, entrance to both
viewing spots is free.
America’s Cup Village on Marina Green
is the best place to view the huge boats competing. And man, do they race! As you sit in
comfortable grandstand seats, the seven-ton boats zip in front of you going, literally,
faster than the wind. Adding to the thrill are
two 30-foot Jumbotrons, so you can see the
action live, then glance at a screen and catch
Jumbotron feeds come from helicopters
and from cameras mounted on the boats. It’s
amazing. You see the 11 crew members bouncing from hull to hull and, thanks to NBC’s
engaging play-by-play commentary and special
effects on the screen, you understand what
America’s Cup racing is all about. I loved it.
During the finals (September 7–21), grandstand
seats will start at $60; until then they’re free.
Also at America’s Cup Village on Marina
Green are radio-controlled sailboats and
inflated bouncing surfaces for kids and a
snazzy outdoor cafe where adults can grab a
sandwich and a glass of wine. Though admission is free, nothing is done on the cheap.
Final note: Labeling America’s Cup racing as
NASCAR for yachts has validity. When you see