The next set of America's Cup World Series events on San Francisco Bay will be held Oct 2 - 7. That's next week! Excited? Got your "Go Emirates Team New Zealand!" tee-shirt out of the wash?
If your answer to those questions is either "Yeah, right" or "What's the America's Cup?" you may agree with the poster of the comment below, significantly edited for the sake of propriety. It was left on one of our 2010 reports about San Francisco's bid to host the event:
So who gives a s***. this overblown carnival of obscenely expensive ugly boats trying to race around in a small shallow and overcrowded bay at the cost of upheaving the entire waterfront to please one egotistical billlionaire who is only interested in... gaining control of the waterfront to turn it into a giant computer town.....
Okay, so not everyone likes Larry Ellison -- he's the egotistical billionaire cited above (and you really have to specify in this town). Ellison's team won the America's Cup in 2010, giving him the power to cut a deal with a host city for the 2013 regatta. During negotiations with San Francisco, Ellison came under heavy criticism for playing hardball, to resort to an incongruous landlubber metaphor.
But the deal was done, and last month the first of the America's Cup events, called the World Series, was held. The Chronicle called crowds for the qualifying races "subdued but enthusiastic." The Chron wrote:
City officials and race organizers predict that the races will boost tourism and generate about $1 billion for the city. But so far it's unclear if this year's dry run is filling more hotel rooms than usual.
Last month the paper's Tom Fitzgerald wrote that the races may indeed not live up to the hype:
What's not so certain is whether the long series of races leading up to that final - a regatta known as the Louis Vuitton Cup - will be able to hold people's interest and attract big crowds next summer. As it stands, there are four scheduled competitors - possibly only three - who can afford to build the big catamarans it will take to mount a challenge.
Spread over 44 days of racing between July 4 and Sept. 1, 2013, these preliminary contests risk losing their luster, both competitively and financially, especially because San Franciscans won't have a rooting interest until the America's Cup final commences.
All right. Have we completely eradicated what little interest you may have had yet?
Well, ladies and gents, that's not our intention. Because according to two semi-reputable sources in the KQED newsroom -- Cy Musiker, whom you hear on your radio every day, and Dan Brekke, who edits him -- the America's Cup is going to be a knockdown, dragout, freewheeling, fly-by-the-seat-of-your-jib (or whatever), uber-competitive battle at sea that will send all your stereotypes and preconceptions about sailing straight to Davy Jones' locker. These two guys are longtime sailing fans who have followed the sport for many years. Their argument in favor of America's Cup spectatorship includes:
- One of longest-running sports competitions in world, with a rich history
- Sailing right off Marina green provides unprecedented viewing access
- New boats are "hotrods" built for pure speed
- Almost guaranteed to see some sort of capsizing or other catastrophe
- Great TV coverage and tracking technology
Here, my friends, is our conversation, in which I cop up front to a preternatural boredom with the very idea of the America's Cup, before being genuinely persuaded that it actually might be pretty cool.
Or...maybe the thing to do is just watch this video from the August races...