Sunday, January 30, 2011


It’s been a few weeks since the AC45 took its first splash in the Hauraki Gulf, in New Zealand. Over the weekend, Russell Coutts (ORACLE Racing CEO), and Jimmy Spithill (ORACLE Racing Skipper), talked about their impressions of the AC45 program thus far.

When asked whether the new multi hull was a handful in 25 knots, Spithill’s enthusiasm spilled over, “It’s awesome mate! I think we’ll be able to race these in 30 knots and it will be a handful. Who knows, maybe there will be a few boats who will be right on the edge and perhaps someone will capsize one, but look, that’s what I think the sport is all about, it needs to have that element of risk…


Jimmy Spithill: We’ve taken the AC45 out in everything, from 3-4 knots up to 25-26. The exciting thing is that we can push the boat through quite a large range. We want to be able to set it up so you can sail it at a light air venue around the world, like the Med, but I’m confident we’re going to be able to push this boat up to 30 knots of wind speed. From a TV point of view, from an event point of view, I don’t know of another boat where you can currently do that and make it exciting.


Jimmy Spithill: The captains have been hitting the top speeds. Murray Jones hit about 28 knots cruising back down the harbor in probably between 15-20 knots of wind. I’ve been very impressed with the performance because it goes through a very big range, which was one of the goals. The maneuvering was what has impressed me the most. The tacking is very, very quick on this one. You can go from flying a hull into a tack and actually fly the hull on the other side before the guys can even get over there so

It’s pretty early days but you need to get, say, 6-7 knots to get a hull out. We’re looking at different sail configurations depending in breeze strength in different venues so for example, that you can make sure you are flying a hull in very light winds. It’s something for ACRM to consider and nice for them to have these different options.


Jimmy Spithill: Besides fine tuning things which you get with any new boat, I think that by the time we left the dock for the first sail we were flying the hull within a couple of minutes, it’s really impressive. We haven’t broken anything on it yet, just done some fine tuning like positions of cleats and jammers and we’ve sailed almost every day.

Russell Coutts: Iain Murray (CEO, ACRM), has been thinking a lot about whether or not boats can go off and make their own modifications - a lot of the teams have been asking that question. He’s said that he wants to keep it one design for the first year. But outside of a race, there’d be nothing stopping a team from building a new foil, or rudder or wing and trying it on the AC45 outside of racing. I don’t think there’d been any problem with it. I think it came up in one of the competitor forums that it may be a cheaper way to do development than on a bigger boat but that’s not necessarily a good way of testing but in some ways it might be a really good way of testing.


Russell Coutts: I don’t think it’s going to change the game in the multi hull in a tactical sense as much as what people think. I think the good sailors will still end up being the good sailors. You’ve already seen some examples - Jimmy sailed A Class a few years back and was really competitive, and Dean Barker did the same thing recently in Australia. The good sailors will adapt and still be good sailors. It’ll be a bit more challenging and there’ll be certain differences, like approaching marks and obviously differences in a fleet start, but the basic concept will be exactly the same.


Russell Coutts: It’ll be both a boat handling and technology race - boat handling is going to be really critical. For example, in a version 5 AC boat, in strong winds, you could do a bad jibe and it wouldn’t really make that much difference. The boat slows down a little bit, you might lose a knot of boat speed but you could get a way with it. Another example, you could tear your gennaker down the middle, replace it and most of the time stay in the lead if you had the lead. I can tell you now, if you do a bad jibe in a multi hull, or damage one of the sails, it’s a loss for sure.


Jimmy Spithill: Most definitely (this will be a boat that younger guys can sail) - I think one of the bigger problems with the Cup in the past is that there hasn’t been a clear path for youth sailors to get here. I just use my own example, it was just sheer good luck. So if you set the path and for the skills and attributes you need to sail a boat it’s going to be ‘all of the above’. That’s what makes it so exciting. You’re going to have to be pretty athletic, fit, you’re obviously going to have to have quick reactions…but I think this kind of boat and this sort of sailing really appeals to the younger generation. Let’s face it, kids today want to go fast. Look at a Laser or a foiling moth, I think it’s pretty obvious what a kid is going to choose. Likewise, when they see these AC45s charging around with the wing up, it’s going to create so much interest. Already, as soon as we mentioned the concept ‘youth America’s Cup’ on these boats, you can imagine the response we got.


Russell Coutts: There’s also been quite a lot of interest from individuals outside the America’s Cup wanting to buy an AC45. One of the ideas is that because these boats are cheap to build, maintain and transport around the world, there’s been discussion about opening up the AC45 circuit and continuing it even after the AC72 comes online, as its own circuit. Perhaps including some of the individuals who want to buy these boats with the caveat that they have a youth sailing crew onboard - probably all-nationals - the event authority guys are thinking about what the age limit should be. Ideas like this are gaining a bit of traction out there. I think it’d be an excellent system. I know quite a few who may find that fun to support a national youth team in their country, get it going and watch their guys come out and race guys like us.


Jimmy Spithill: We just have to sign off on a few things - the guys have done a nice job on the mooring system and just the logistical system of craning the boat in and out. It’s very quick and simple. We just want to have a look at a couple more sails then we’re going to hand it over to ACRM.


While we heard last week that the AC45 will likely not make it to San Francisco Bay due to demand from other venues, it seems that decision is not final, according to Russell. “I’m not sure…the ACEA guys are still considering that, but one thing is for sure, the 72 WILL be in San Francisco and that’s not going to be un-spectacular...”

* Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


2013 Dates Confirmed For Louis Vuitton Cup & America’s Cup Match

It’s official - the Louis Vuitton Cup will be raced July 13-September 1, 2013*, and the 34th edition of the America’s Cup Match (Finals) will be held September 7-22, 2013**.

Both events will be held on San Francisco Bay. The timing is perfect to capture the best weather conditions for sailboat racing on the Bay. Typically July and August offer the most exciting and challenging winds, while September is still challenging and typically provides spectacular San Francisco weather.

With just 898 days before racing starts, a confirmed schedule is significant for local marine businesses who now have definitive dates to plan around.

Paul Kaplan, co-owner of KKMI marine yard, with facilities in Point Richmond and Sausalito, California, said, “Confirmation of the 2013 dates are critical to anyone in the maritime industry that intends on taking advantage of this opportunity. The permit process alone is complicated, so there's no time to waste. For marine businesses like KKMI, we’re recommending that boat owners take care of deferred maintenance sooner than later so they can enjoy their boats when the racing starts rather than waiting until the weekend before the America's Cup.”

Likewise, John Arndt, moderator for Sailing Renaissance, the Bay Area’s sailing industry group, said, “While the dates are about as expected I'm sure all members of the Sailing Renaissance America's Cup group are happy to have them confirmed. The Sailing Renaissance membership is made up of marine industry and sailing community members who want to help support a successful Cup and, naturally the firmer and clearer the plans for the event, the easier it is for our membership to plan and commit their time to this effort. We know, for example, that the call for volunteers is going to be huge, and there’ll be significant time required for training those volunteers.”

Since 1983, the Louis Vuitton Cup - the America’s Cup Challenger Series - has been held when more than one Challenger is vying for the right to race the Defender for the America’s Cup (as is the case for the 34th America’s Cup). The role of the Louis Vuitton Cup is twofold, not only to select the best Challenger, but also to help prepare that the team to race successfully against the Defender in the America’s Cup Match (Finals).

The winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup will race the Golden Gate Yacht Club’s (GGYC) defending team in the finals, a first-to-win-five (best of nine) race series known as the America’s Cup Match (Finals).

Under the Protocol Governing the America’s Cup, GGYC as the Defending Club has the responsibility to select the dates. The official notice of these dates to the currently entered six teams, and other prospective teams, from Regatta Director Iain Murray is now available at, under the Gallery section.

* Subject to the final number of Challengers and the precise format of the racing TBD by the Challengers and Regatta Director.

**Subject to whether the America’s Cup Match (Finals) is won in five races, or goes the full nine races.

Monday, January 24, 2011


When John Arndt (associate publisher Latitude 38), and myself organized a meeting and AC34 celebration for the Bay Area sailing advocacy group, Sailing Renaissance (SR), we asked the Golden Gate Yacht Club if they’d set up seating for 30-40 people. This was to be a meeting for SR membership to discuss their ideas, areas of interest and concerns for the local recreational sailing and boating community with regard to the America’s Cup.

By Friday afternoon numbers had grown - just a little - with almost 200 crowding the upstairs grand room at GGYC. Tom Huston, COO of America’s Cup Event Authority spoke on behalf of America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). A new face to me in this growing organization, Tom hails from a sports marketing career where he worked closely with ACEA CEO Craig Thompson and ACEA Chairman Richard Worth. Tom’s a Northern California native and pleased that the opportunity to work in the Cup has brought him back to San Francisco after 10 years in Europe. Tom is not a sailor but did a very nice job of presenting what lies ahead of ACEA over the next few years.

I liked that Tom didn’t make any bones about not having intimate knowledge of the sport of sailing or even the Cup, but rather that he and his group want to do a better job than has been done previously of connecting with the non-sailor, using sports marketing methodology & know-how not previously applied to the sport of sailing at this level.

He did let a few things slip that were news to some of us closely connected to what’s been going on - namely that USA-17 is on its way to San Francisco as we speak (plans for the monster tri are unknown at this point upon its arrival to San Francisco), and that we will not, after all, get to see the much-talked about AC45 race on the Bay prior to AC34 due to scheduling and demand for the AC45 at other international venues.

Keeping in mind that the San Francisco venue announcement was made just a few weeks ago, much of what Tom had to say was tempered with, “it’s in the planning stages,” or. “we’re not sure yet how that’s going to work,” and, “stay posted for more!” I expect that this will be the case until a few major sponsors are in place that will help lend more direction to their plans.

The final portion of the meeting was dedicated to idea sharing with the many interested parties in attendance. A first call to action was determined: to form task groups to head up different interest areas that will be affected by the Cup’s presence, or interest areas that can be leveraged as a result of the Cup. For example, a task group devoted to communicating directly with the Coast Guard to represent local boaters who hope to be able to be on the water to view the AC34.

People with expertise in many different areas signed up to head task groups. The SR Steering Committee is putting together an organizational chart of all the key areas of interest/concern. Already many people have offered to head up these task groups. The goal is that SR becomes recognized by ACEA/ACRM as the representative constituency for the Bay Area sailing and boating community and that the heads of task groups can ultimately meet directly with ACEA/ACRM to discuss ideas and concerns in the interests of both groups working together to promote the sport of sailing.

We were also fortunate that Brad Webb, ORACLE Racing’s bow man, was able to also give a presentation on his recent experience winning AC33 on USA-17, a likely once in a lifetime experience for any pro sailor. I’ve seen Brad present a few times now and never tire of either the footage from AC33 or listening to Brad’s stories of this interesting time in AC history. Thanks Brad!

Thanks also to the Golden Gate Yacht Club, to their fine staff for hosting the event, and especially to Ellen Hoke, Marcus Young and Norbert Barjurin.

* John Arndt was interviewed on KGO by Jim Gabberts about AC34:

* About Sailing Renaissance: Initially formed several years as a Bay Area industry support group to find creative ways to market and grow the sport of sailing during the economic downturn. Subsequently, the group has expanded to include the greater Bay Area sailing community.

Mission Statement: To unite the Bay Area sailing community to grow participation in sailing.

For more information, contact John Arndt, or Shawn Grassman,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


John Craig has been appointed Principal Race Officer (PRO) of the 34th America’s Cup. Craig, who lives in San Rafael, California, with his wife Despina and children Danielle (12) and Dante (9), has for the past 11 years been the race manager at the St Francis Yacht Club (St FYC) in San Francisco. He’s responsible for conducting the races of the America’s Cup World Series, which will begin this summer in new 45-foot catamarans, as well as the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America’s Cup finals which will run between July and September in 2013. Craig starts his new gig February 1, and steps into a role previously filled by guys he considers his long-time mentors, former Cup PROs Harold Bennett and Peter Reggio. I have no doubt he will do a great job, I know I had my fingers crossed for him.

What will your role consist of?

John Craig: I work for America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) whose job it is to run the races for both the America’s Cup World Series events as well as the races of the 34th America’s Cup. In order to get races off, my job is to first find the staff. We will run a technical rehearsal in April, which will allow us to test all of our race management systems in New Zealand with the AC 45s in preparation for our first World Series event in mid-2011. We’re currently gathering all the equipment, working with the technology guys to try to modify a few things, for example, we’re developing technology to help us run a race to the exact time that we need to put it in a one hour TV show so that when we go live with it we’ll know exactly how long it will take. Stan Honey through his sports-graphics company Sportvision is developing a lot of it and we’re going to use what they’ve produced to help with the running of the races, to help with the umpiring, the media side, with the telemetry on the water; instead of the yellow line on the football field it’ll be the yellow line on the water…

What type of equipment are you primarily talking about?

John Craig: We’ll need our own race committee boats, medical boats, umpire boats etc. One of the things that ACRM is going to have to be able to do is move from venue to venue and so our team has been trying to figure out how to make that all work. Basically the equipment will “live” on a transport ship as it moves from venue to venue.

Sounds like there’s a lot of travel in store for you?

John Craig: There’s going to be more travel than I’ve been doing lately (LOL) as far as confirmed, definitely in NZ for the testing, but we likely wont have all the equipment there.

Will you be resigning from your tenure at the St Francis Yacht Club?

John Craig: Yes, my last day there will be end of February so I have an overlap of a month to help the yacht club get through trying to find a new person. I am leaving the St FYC after 11 years but I guess all good things must come to an end! I can’t say enough good things about the club, they’ve been great to me. It will be missed for sure, but this is one of those opportunities that you just can’t pass up on and the club has been amazingly supportive, they cheered me on in taking this position. I’m excited but also pretty nervous about the whole thing – I’m sticking my neck out here and will be calling on my buddies all over the world to help me out!

Does St FYC have a replacement lined up yet?

John Craig: They’re doing a full search – John Callahan and John Siegel are the two chairs of the Search Committee and I haven’t seen the list yet but apparently there’s a number of good contenders and they’re out there chasing them. I’m confident they’ll find a good replacement and they’re determined to make sure that the program keeps going at the level that is has been.

What’s been the best experience you’ll be able to draw up on in this new role?

John Craig: Two things, first, as a former coach for the Canadian National Sailing Team. I’ve had the ability to communicate and I’ve always had a good relationship with a lot of the world’s elite sailors. That’s going to be a big piece of it, just having these relationships with a bunch of the big players will help. Second, the opportunity that the St FYC has given me to develop some technology for race management which has given me a good understanding of that side of the equation so when someone like Stan Honey says something to me I actually understand what’s he’s trying to say! We put in the AIS (automatic identification system) at the club on all the race committee boats which allowed us to track all the committee boats and what they’re doing at a given time, so some of that knowledge is transferable.

What experience do you have with multi hulls and how different is going to be to run races with these boats, especially at the speeds they are going to be going?

John Craig: I have had some experience with multi hulls, the smaller ones, through regattas at the club and opportunities to run races for them. As far as the speed the AC boats will be going, the boats are going to be so big and the course is going to be so tight so we’re going to see multiple laps that will create multiple opportunities for drama. The tracking system that Sportvision/Stan has developed is accurate enough now that we’ll actually use it for race management and to see how quickly the boats go around the course.

What challenges do your foresee in your new role?

John Craig: One of the biggest challenges is going to be working with all the authorities to get a track that is big enough to run these guys on that isn’t going to be impacted by commercial and recreational vessels. We’re going to work closely with the bar pilots, vessel traffic service, the Coast Guard and the shipping lines. Keeping a clear race zone will be another big piece of the effort. We want everybody to see it and be part of it. We’ll do what we can to make sure that there’s room out there for everybody to safely watch.

What sort of staffing will you be doing?

John Craig: It’ll depend on the venue. With all this equipment, we envision that we’ll have to bring people in to operate it all. On the race committee boats we’d expect to have one or two paid staff and use local race committees and volunteers where possible. We’re also probably going to get 3 or 4 more “brain-trust” people to help with the running of the races and I haven’t really got my arms around that yet or what it’s going to be look like. We think it’ll take us about 26 days to get into a venue, unload, get all the boats out, run the event and then get out of dodge so with all those logistics, we’ll be looking for staff to help with that.

How much will you be reaching out to local YCs for help to run races?

John Craig: Plenty! Local yacht clubs have the experience of working on the Bay and so we’ll be reaching out to them. In the short-term, in conjunction with the Coast Guard and all the marine partners, one of the things I need to get onto really quickly is trying to lock the dates in for ’12 and ’13 as to when we’d be looking for use of the Bay and establishment of the restricted zone, and relay that to the yacht clubs. In the short-term that’s one of my tasks to get onto as quick as I can so everybody knows what’s going on. The YRA can start distributing information too.

Off the Cup & onto US Sailing - how is US Sailing doing on the West Coast?

John Craig: I think it’s doing a lot better. Our president Gary Jobson has done well over 100 days speaking last year at clubs. He’s working really hard to drive it back to the clubs and overall financially it’s fine, sponsorship continues to grow. It needs some work on its championships – that’s an area that needs work. The certification side of the program needs work for sure and something we’re looking at. The yacht club summit in Chicago beginning of April looks to be well attended and I think the Board is looking to continue receive feedback from constituents. Gary’s phenomenal – he’ll go to any yacht club that will take him then brings the feedback to the table when we meet as a board.

Any specific goal you’d like to accomplish as a US Sailing board member?

John Craig: I’d really like to harmonize the certification programs, make it a little easier to go through the certification system. Now we’ve got an umpire training program, judge’s training program and a race management training program. While there’s need for them to be different in content, the systems which you get through the programs are vastly different. If there’s a way to package that so that it had all the same look and feel – an example is if you’re unsuccessful in race management test, you can’t retake it currently, whereas if you’re a judge, if you don’t pass the first time you can retake the test. Those consistencies need to be cleaned up.

Your advice to others wanting a career in race management?

John Craig: Stay connected to the sport, you gotta keep sailing. I do that through – not as much as I used to and would like to - when I was in Canada I’d interact with the sailors and see a lot of good racing and a lot of bad racing as I went around the world with the Olympic team. When I came to the St FYC, it was always about being open to feedback, after a race don’t hit the dock and head back to the office without talking to the sailors. I was always open to comment and if we did something wrong I wanted to fix it and not do it again. Having some great mentors along the way guys like Reggio and Bennett - when I was in Canada it was Steve Tupper - those guys are individuals that you ought to seek out.

What's your favorite type of sailing?

John Craig: Cruising with the family is great, sailing around on a J105 or J120 I can beg, borrow or steal. For racing I like One Design boats a lot. I still have an affinity for the Star because I coached that boat for a long time but some of the new stuff is pretty cool too - during the Melges 32 here last year, I had an opportunity to go out which was cool. Norman Devant got me out on the TP52 Vincitore before Rolex Big Boat also last year which was a lot of fun.

Have you heard any more about the Latitude 38 reported "rumor"that AC34 may be postpone until 2014?

John Craig: It’s all systems go for 2013.

AC34 Top Priority for New Mayor

After days of winter chilly San Francisco fog, this morning clouds gave way to blue sunshine and even warmth as San Francisco’s new Mayor Edwin Lee conducted a press conference at the end of Pier 27, literally at the water’s edge, to discuss his administration's commitment and organization to deliver AC 34. Fitting. A long time Bay area resident, it was the first time I’d ventured out to the end of this particular pier - I’ve sailed passed it often enough - and I was immediately captured by a vision (sorry, that’s one word that’s been somewhat abused when discussing AC34), of what this whole thing is not only going to look like but FEEL like. It’s going to be amazing.

Lee was joined by City Supervisors Murakami and Lee, who have been 100% behind the Cup coming to town, as well as Mark Buell representing both Park and Rec, and the Americas Cup Organizing Committee (ACOC), and Craig Thompson, CEO America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). Many other Port staff and city staff were also on-hand, including Jonathan Stern, the Port’s assistant deputy director of Waterfront Development who took the group for a quick tour of Piers 23 and 27 to briefly show Mayor Lee the areas that will be dedicated to the Cup. It’s clear that the Mayor is already enamored of the changes that the Cup is sure to bring to the City under his authority. The following is an excerpt of his speech this morning...

“Walking through the piers with Jonathan Stern from the Port and other members of the Port, both looking internally and externally, I can’t but say that not only did we make the right decision, the world has made the right decision. This is just conceivably one of the most beautiful places on earth that this 34th America’s Cup could possibly be. Even looking out today you’re just going to get a glimpse of what millions of other people and viewers will see in 2013. My first thought was to let you know that this was a very high priority for me.

We’ve worked very closely with our Board of Supervisors to make the very best deal we could have for our citizenry and for visitors and for the city. It is an international event - Gavin (former Mayor Newsom) had often told us at the dept head meetings that it is several world series events strung together for a period of time. This isn’t just a one-day event. This isn’t happening a year from now, the people involved are beginning to come now, so our restaurants and businesses, the piers, the procurements, what they need to support their staffs, they’re all coming here now - that’s part of the $1.4 billion economic outlook that we had when we made this decision and got this award.

9,000 jobs - that’s a heck of a lot of jobs for San Francisco to host in the coming years and it’s a great, great promise. I am so proud of this city for doing everything it can and for the full Board and Mayor’s office to have united on this front for the year. I am so lucky to be appointed and elected to this office at this time because it is one of my top priorities. I have said that earlier. It is the beginning of the execution of a world-class event. I want you to know that the very first directive that I’ve issued is a format, a way in which we operate to make sure we’re all on the same page. We’re going to get this done. The city will cherish this for years and years to come as we unveil all the things that will happen.

I am putting together a top notch steering committee team to lead this effort which will make sure that we honor all the obligations that the board and the mayor and City have already promised to our citizenry, our businesses as well as the agencies. We have a lot of regulatory and land-use approvals to be done and that office will be leading that effort as well.

Community relations - I said earlier that people in Hong Kong didn’t know what the America’s Cup was all about. People in China Town are still learning what it’s all about and they’re going to get a great dose of my opportunity to explain to all communities what the event is all about and how inclusive it will be and can be. It’s a chance for the Cup to re-brand itself, if you will, to make it even bigger world class event and San Francisco is a perfect place to do that.

Our Port of San Francisco are very geared to balance it all with all the other developments that we have been pushing very hard on at the Port - the Cruise Ship terminal as you’re well aware of - and they’re also be paying a lot of attention to any issues around displacement. If there’s anything that the Port has done, they’ve really communicated really well to their tenants - obviously this will move things around a bit and I’m paying attention to that and am working closely with the Port to fulfill their obligations to that and all tenants throughout the Port.”


Iain Murray, an Australian former pro sailor, has been spending a lot of time in San Francisco lately, keenly aware that he’s got a full plate over the next few years as the America’s Cup and its entourage roll into town. As Regatta Director and CEO for America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM), the logistics arm of the world’s largest sailing event, Murray is undoubtedly the man for the job.

His resume is awe-inspiring; suffice to say in recognition for his achievements and meritorious service to sport and community, the 52-year old was presented in 1992 the Order of Australia, AM, an order of chivalry established by Queen Elizabeth II.

With an illustrious sailing career and great success as a real estate developer and businessman under his belt, the prospect of what lays ahead for Murray in the America’s Cup 34 is both overwhelming and thrilling. “It’s exciting but there’s a lot to do so it’s a little daunting at this stage - there’s a lot of process in this thing and we’re right at the beginning,” Murray said.

He’s not losing anytime getting to business for ACRM. Shortly after San Francisco was announced on December 31 as the venue for the 34th America’s Cup, he met with City Hall and the Port of San Francisco to start planning some of the next steps forward. “We’ve got an agreement in place and now we’re getting down to the working part of what we need,” Murray said. “We’re meeting with architects, engineers, the Port, starting the CEQA environmental process – all to find out how we’re going to plan the structure and layout of this event.”

Working together with America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA), the commercial arm of the America’s Cup, ACRM is charged with multiple responsibilities: for putting on the races, controlling the rules, providing the power boats, the staff, the judges, administering the races and communicating with all the athletes or the teams. Additionally, for the first time in an America’s Cup event, ACRM will manage the World Series (a new precursor event to the Cup) and as part of that, all of the logistics from breaking down and shipping the AC45s, the catamarans that will be raced during the World Series, to building the event villages at each location along the World Series tour. “We pull them down, we move it all,” Murray said.

A huge element of putting on a sailing event of this magnitude is the volunteer effort that will be required to simply get the show off the ground. Murray’s team will be reaching out to Bay Area Yacht Clubs for their assistance. “Those relationships will develop, probably through the Principal Race Officer (PRO) who will be out there with his team to attract the necessary people,” Murray said. “We very much want to source locally if we can and I am sure there will be an involvement of all the clubs around the Bay.”

Much of the role of interaction with local clubs will be the responsibility of the PRO, who with his team will also take charge of starting the permitting process. Said Murray, “We’ll have a core team then there’ll be similar teams in the different locations for the World Series with supplementary people, some being professional and some being volunteer. They’ll also have to manage approvals and permitting in their venue.” Additionally, there’s a rules division where there’ll be a need for umpire boats, umpire staffing and judges.

Sailors are clearly curious about the racecourse, especially with the traffic challenges on San Francisco Bay. According to Murray, the course is essentially going to be from the top of Treasure Island, probably a mile west of the bridge to the shore, back to Treasure Island, or back to Angel Island. “It’s going to be in that body of water, “ he confirmed. Discussions about the course are taken up regularly with representatives from the challenging teams in the competitors’ forum, he added. Regardless, it’s all going to happen in the city front, and effectively there’ll be just one course. Murray said, “If we’re running match races, we may have a race at 11am, noon, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm and so on, but because of the television requirements, the equipment, the boundaries and so on, we really just want to use one course area. It’ll be a lot more specialized than it has been in the past. And the wind is a lot more reliable right there too.”

Regardless, the target time to get the boats around the course in the World Series events at least is 45 minutes, a time that is basically television driven - it could be that the America’s Cup is a longer race but it could also be a 45-minute race. Murray says it’s too early to tell.

Fleet racing will dominate the World Series events, and according to Murray, it’s possible that some of the challenger selection series will also be fleet racing, but he assures that THE match is match racing. “There is a desire I think by a lot of people to have fleet racing, more than match,” he said. “This will be ironed out in the competitor’s forums. We’ve got to get near the end of the entry period and see how many competitors we have first. We have six today.”

Entries are slowly coming on board, although key teams like Emirates Team New Zealand have been dragging their feet. Murray thinks there’ll easily be ten teams. “Even with our six signed on who will be in the World Series, which is great, it’s still a step up from that from the 45s to the 72s in the America’s Cup – that’s a big jump. The fact that they’ve entered is no guarantee that they’ll get there. But it is all good, especially compared to AC32 where there weren’t many early entries, this is surprisingly good. The majority of the teams we’ve got are strong.”

Essentially the decision comes down to Murray as to how the umpiring will be run. While it’s not yet been announced, a manager of the umpiring process has been appointed, apparently a world champion sailor from California. The jury has been selected and sorted out through ISAF who’ve been charged with a lot of the responsibility that’s probably taken place in the courts in the past and very much wont be in the future, said Murray. “The jury and umpiring of how this is done will be quite different to what’s been done in the past. As fast as these boats are going to go, it’s not really possible to chase them around in 30-35 knots – you’re just going to kill people.”

As has been well publicized, this event is going to see plenty of electronics, television and, says Murray, military grade GPS involved in the umpiring of the boats, with trials having gone on in that equipment for some time.

Murray is clearly turned on by what the television prospects are going to be for AC34, or at least the vision. “The technology that we’re talking about is technology that’s come from this country – Stan Honey, Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, has taken his race-car technology to new levels. Trials are indicating that it’s going to be good. It’s all about putting the vision out there to the masses, enhancing the television.”

The vision, according to Murray, is to make the races short and sharp with strong competition and close races, lots of opportunities, and young athletic crews.

“They’re going to have to be real athletes to sail these boats – prevailing in the end to teams to be the ultimate winners in close races, and all of that brought to people on high quality TV with the latest technology, tight shots, tracking the boats, showing who is in front – sailing’s a difficult sport to capture and understand. So we’re doing a lot of things – we’re writing America’s Cup specific rules – within ISAF we have our own rules for racing these boats. All of that stuff is happening right now.”

Regardless of what it’ll look like on TV, the views shore-side will be thrilling. Murray said, “These boats are just going to burn up the race course. They’re going to be forced to do multiple laps. If you consider that they’re going to go about three miles, effectively from the Golden Gate bridge down to the other side of Alcatraz, in only six minutes, get your head around that because that’s what they’re going to do.”

Golden Gate Yacht Club Holds Course As AC Host

Tucked away at the end - or the beginning depending on whether you're on foot or under sail - of Yacht Road along the San Francisco Marina West Yacht Basin is the Golden Gate Yacht Club, a two-story-unassuming-almost-quaint yellow building and home of the America's Cup Defender ORACLE Racing. Its location couldn't be more ideal for its task at hand as host club for the 34th edition of the America's Cup - just 1.8 nautical miles east of the Golden Gate Bridge and central to the city front, the site of the future race-course for the next event.

While on paper it seems that the GGYC must hold a fundamental role in all that's been happening over the past year, in all truth we haven't heard much from the folks who constitute the membership in the notoriously modest club. I checked in with Marcus Young, former Commodore of the GGYC and now Staff Commodore, who assured me that there's plenty going on behind the scenes...

As host Club what IS GGYC's role in all this?

Marcus Young: The Club is really the mechanism by which the races occur. In order to become a challenging team for the Cup you have to enter through a recognized yacht club. That’s where the relationship between the Cup and a club starts. Now that we are the Defender and the Trustee of the Cup, we're the point of entry for the other teams wishing to enter. Challenging teams and clubs lodge their challenge to race with us, pay the entry fee and the Club is responsible for the processing and approval of those entries. As we move forward over the next couple of months, the Club will most likely take on a bigger role in some facets. However, we've assigned management of the event over to the new entity, the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA) because it is important to have professionals who are experienced with the complexities of sports marketing for the management of the event. I would argue that it would be difficult today for any club, really, to manage the business of the racing and the event side of this event on their own without a separate entity assisting on the management side of things. Craig Thompson and his crew are professionals who know how to do this right and we are extremely pleased to have them on board.

That's not a concept that's new to the AC34, however?

Marcus Young: I think it's widely agreed that Dennis Connor really changed the game of the America’s Cup whether you like it or not. He did a lot to professionalize the sport and paved the path for the AC to be a truly professional sport. The on –the-water race management has evolved over the past 10 years and that is a very good thing. The goal should have been and is now to have an independent on the water entity free of the political whim of the defending yacht club. We have that today with America’s Cup race Management. Beyond the racing, however, we have Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts to thank for a broader vision of the event itself and that it where Craig Thompson and his crew come in with ACEA. For AC34 we're trying to create a sustainable model so no matter who wins, there is this independent authority that travels with the event - much like the Olympics with the Olympic committee - and continues to manage it so that no club is crushed by the weight of hosting the event. So a big piece of what we are doing today is creating this sustainable model – all supported by sponsorship and licensing – to help create an event that is at once a great sports spectacle and completely manageable in terms of going forward after the event is over.

Who is taking on the increased responsibilities and activities at GGYC?

Marcus Young: Until a few days ago we had no idea where AC34 was going to be – San Francisco was our first choice, but Italy and Rhode Island had put forward strong cases. Today’s AC is not only about convenience in the location, but it is also about creating that sustainable model and have certainty that all of the pieces are going to come together. Now that we know that the AC is in San Francisco, the real work begins – for the City and for the Club. We're extremely happy the event will be in San Francisco as it puts the spotlight squarely on the Club and there is work to be done. Between now and the end of February, while ACEA gets relocated, we're going to start working on our side to figure out who we need to hire full-time, what can be done by volunteers, etc. The GGYC is small and there will be a need for professional help club side but what that is and how that works is being worked on now.

What changes can we expect to see at GGYC?

Marcus Young: The Club is going through a bit of a renaissance. The focus is really in bringing the physical plant up to a new standard – and it should be mentioned that these plans have been in place for some time, but we now have a more definite deadline to get the projects completed. The changes you'll see will be modest but designed to make our members feel at home in a place where they can really enjoy. You won't see a complete tear-down and re-build. We visited with Larry (Ellison) and others on the subject a few years ago and all agreed that they did not want to see any major physical changes with the club-house because he (Larry) and others involved liked it the way it was. In fact, one of the reasons Oracle came here was because of our casual and non-exclusive feel and so we need to keep that as we go forward.

How has the relationship with the Cup benefited GGYC membership?

Marcus Young: For those of us who have been involved with the Club for some time it's fun to see the changes in membership when the Cup comes into the club-house. It's a great honor to have it and the membership appreciates that. From a perspective of marketing to get new members, it's been great. A lot of people have joined this year because we won and they want to be part of this historic moment. We anticipate that over the next 2-3 years those membership numbers will continue to grow - I'd expect it to double from where we are today, and that would be just about perfect. Membership is our number one priority, so it's something we spend a lot of time working on, a lot of time massaging, so even though we have the Cup, we are not resting. We're always looking for members, good members - people who want to volunteer, put their time in and be part of the organization, give back in a positive way. Of course now we have this great tool we can use to attract people who may not otherwise join. We're still an accessible facility, we still welcome visitors into the clubhouse, which won't change going forward. It's part of who we are and how we've created what it is we have at the Club.

Any truth to the rumor that GGYC & St FYC would merge?

Both clubs have come in and out of that conversation for the better part of a decade and no one should be surprised. It's not that far-fetched. We exist within yards of each other and our facilities are complementary to each other. StFYC is a more traditional operation than ours, we're more casual, but regardless, we share the same real estate locale, and our vision is the same. The question always was and is today, how would our membership feel about merging and would it be in the best interests of each club to do it. Today, we look for ways to partner apart from merging that bring our organizations together in a way that's productive and proactive. In my tenure during the last four years, we have worked diligently with the StFYC to mend fences of our neighborly rivalry and work closer together. You have to give credit to both boards of directors and the flag officers from both organizations to allow that to happen and the result has been beneficial to both clubs. Today we share assets. When they have big races and need more room we facilitate that and vice versa. With the America's Cup here, and even with ACEA and ACRM, we're still looking at the St FYC as a partner in that endeavor as we will look for all of the Bay Area clubs to partner with us in the coming months and years. Are the clubs going to merge in the next 30 days? I really don't think so. But we will continue to work together over the next three years. If the clubs do merge at some point in the future, I can assure you it would be managed as a win-win for everyone. But the only thing we're working on today is a cooperative relationship.

What Cup-related activities will the Club host in the near term?

Marcus Young: There's a lot going on behind the scenes and we are currently putting together our calendar for the year which is both focused on Club activities and AC related activities – both private and public programming. I don't expect to see any details until February after the Board has had a chance to meet and the Entertainment Committee has had a chance to get its arms around everything, given a week ago we weren't really sure where we were going.

How long have you been involved in leadership roles at GGYC?

Marcus Young: I had a six year run in leadership - I was the vice commodore for two years and commodore for four years and was on the board for a couple of years before that. My title now is Staff Commodore and Liaison for the America's Cup Team. My role has shifted slightly, meaning that I don't go in and take a look at the budgets everyday for the Club; and I am not looking at the menu and making changes with our GM. I'm focused on our relationship with ORACLE Racing and our relationship with the City's America's Cup Organizing Committee and ACEA. I was happy to be commodore for both the victory in Valencia last year and to have me tenure as Commodore end with the announcement that San Francisco would be the host city for AC34. It’s a great feeling to go out on such a high note.