Thursday, July 7, 2011

America's Cup In the Community

As part of the Host City Agreement (HCA) with the City of San Francisco, the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) has a responsibility to develop a Youth Involvement Plan to be implemented in the City, as follows:

The Youth Involvement Plan shall set forth the means by which, before and during the Event, the Authority shall: (a) incorporate and support sailing related programs and activities for the City’s children, youth, and families; (b) conduct outreach to children, youth, and families through the San Francisco Unified School District and the City’s existing programs for children, youth, and families to provide youth sailing courses and Event passes at no cost; (c) commit to hiring and providing internships to young people for the Event; (d) create friendly open spaces in which children and youth will engage in various Event-related activities; and (e) create exciting learning spaces in which children, youth, and families will have access to experiential and project-based learning related to the Event.

The Bay Area’s sailing advocacy group,, recently invited Ariel Ungerleider, ACEA’s community outreach manager, to translate for its membership exactly what this all means, and to give an update on where her team is at in fulfilling this commitment to the City. Ungerleider, who is from San Francisco, is new to the sport of sailing but comes from the world of sports marketing, non-profits, sports non profit and has worked youth programs in other sports.

The good news for local youth and community sailing groups is that Ungerleider and her group are still in the early stages of defining what the City would like to see happen and what the Cup can bring to youth/community sailing. “The conversation is just getting started and we’re absolutely open to suggestions - we’re still creating our program,” Ungerleider said. “I would like to be able to offer more concrete ideas but I think it’s also a great starting point to say we don’t have an event in San Francisco for a year so we have a lot of time to plan and work with the community.”

She added that partnering with existing organizations is a goal, “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel, we know there are already great existing programs all around the Bay Area.”

While the Youth America’s Cup will be focused on older “kids” using the AC 45s as a pathway for the 18-21 years + age group to higher level sailing, Ungerleider hopes the Cup will provide access and opportunities for all kids from all walks of life to see the actual America’s Cup boats as well as meeting some of the athletes and learning about the event.

She’s been meeting with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office to better understand what education outreach means to them per the HCA, and how the America’s Cup can work with schools or after school programs like the Treasure Island Sailing center and the Sea Scouts as well as adult education - teaching adults how to sail, about the history of the maritime industry in San Francisco for example.

“We’re letting the city drive the conversation right now,” Ungerleider explained. “Once there’s a direction we’ll look to the programs that exist and the conversations we’ve been having such as this and offer a platform to help people find some of the organizations that are out there.”

Ungerleider said initially programs will be limited to the City because that’s whom ACEA is responsible to under the HCA. “Once that’s fulfilled, we’ll eventually include the greater Bay Area. In some cases there may be an opportunity to have a national footprint with classroom curriculum.”

She’s guessing she’ll have a solid plan in place later this fall, perhaps early November. Meanwhile, as we know, there’s no money at ACEA to offer up to local youth sailing/community groups but Ungerleider said on a basic level she’s able to offer assistance with merchandise or “guest” sailor opportunities to help drive fundraising efforts. She can be contacted at

* World-class sailor and philanthropist Dawn Riley, Executive Director at the Oakcliff Sailing center in Oyster Bay, NY, reminded Cup fans at the Golden Gate Yacht Club’s Cup Chat event that it works both ways when it comes to leveraging the opportunity that - hopefully - AC34 will bring to sailing:

“There’s a huge opportunity here that can not be missed and you guys all have to stand up and fight for this. There’s an opportunity to take what we were trying to do with America True to make sailing more accessible. With the America’s Cup you can have a program from K through 12 where everyone learns about the America’s Cup at their age level, from pirates in second grade to biology in 9th grade. The sailors are more than happy to go into the schools and do outreach and talk to the public and to these kids. You can’t let the Cup be here then go away and have everybody say, ‘Oh yeah, that thing.’ It has to be something that has a legacy a facility down at India basin, it’s a huge opportunity and this is the group that has to fight for that.”

Pic 1: Ariel Ungerleider at GoSailingSF membership meeting June 14, South Beach Yacht Club (credit Bob Naber)
Pic 2: Dawn Riley at GGYC Cup Chat event June24 (credit Chuck Lantz)

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