Monday, February 28, 2011


San Francisco journalists today got treated to a first glance of the promise that the America’s Cup 34 will bring as they gathered at Pier 80, south of the City of San Francisco, to view the fastest racing yacht in the world, USA-17.

Having only arrived early this morning and not yet unloaded from the container ship carrying her, there wasn’t much to see except for the ORACLE Racing branding on the exterior of a hull sitting high atop the ship, and due to Port policy, the crowd was kept a good distance away. Nonetheless, it got the attention of a large group of mainstream media who are learning more about the big sailing event that’s about to rock the Bay Area…

Peter Daley with the Port of San Francisco welcomed the crowd, “The Port of San Francisco for the next two years will play home to ORACLE Racing and their vessels and already today we see evidence of the economic benefit that was touted when the City was vying for the America’s Cup. The ship is coming to San Francisco because of the America’s Cup and providing scores of jobs for our longshoremen, for our maritime unions, and our maritime industries here. We are just thrilled that it’s going to be an economic shot in the arm for the Port.”

On hand to talk to media were ORACLE Racing’s Ian “Fresh” Burns and tactician John Kostecki, both Bay Area residents. On seeing USA-17 for the first time in a year Kostecki said, “It’s good to see it, it’s great really.” When asked what the highlight for him was racing the boat, Kostecki grinned and said, “Seeing the finish line on the second race! But, it was pretty cool - it rated up there.”

He added that from his perspective as tactician, USA-17 was so fast that any maneuver you made you paid for. “You really had to pick where you wanted to go and stick with it - not maneuver it too many times. That was tough but that’s how it will be in the future too with the next class. It’s just different yacht racing.”

Seeing the winning boat again was bitter sweet also for Burns. “It’s a sad but kind of glad moment- it’s nice to see it again because it’s a reminder that the whole project was just a struggle all the way through - everything was harder and bigger and more complicated - it was just a series of unknowns all the way. Everyone was going full-speed 24 hours a day for month after month after month. Then it stopped, we went away and now the boat is back. You look at her and think, ‘Yeah, that was pretty amazing. It was actually an incredible project.’ You lose perspective when you’re in the middle of it but it's actually really cool.”

Burns’ take home message from his experience on the world’s fastest racing yacht?

“For me personally, the message from that project was you can really do anything if you get enough dedicated people working together in one place on one project - there’s nothing that’s really impossible if you have people who are really passionate about something.”

The plan for USA-17 is uncertain at the moment according to America’s Cup Event Authority. It’s unlikely she’ll sail again but hopefully she’ll be put back together and showcased sometime soon in the City.

Pic 1: Peter Daley, Port of SF

Pic 2: USA-17 aboard the freighter M.V. Star Isfjord

Pic 3: ORACLE Racing tactician John Kostecki

Thursday, February 24, 2011


The first of the public meetings concerning the Environmental Impact Report required for the 34th America’s Cup Races was held by the San Francisco Planning Department at City Hall on Wednesday night. It was a surprisingly benign meeting, with less than 30 people in attendance, most of those with either America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) or the City.

Just five or six individuals presented their comments which were all in favor of the project; commentary generally requested that as development gets underway, that the agencies involved are mindful of issues such as traffic flow in nearby neighborhoods and the impact of increased traffic to areas like Alcatraz and Angel Islands and other public areas around the Bay which are part of the America’s Cup project area. The final public meeting is tonight although public comment by mail will be received until March 11.

So, what happens then?

I talked with Mike Martin, the City's new America’s Cup Project Manager. He has picked up the role from Kyri McClellan who has moved into more of a liaison position between the City and ACEA. Martin has worked for the City for 9 years, in the City’s attorney’s office doing public finance and real estate and more recently working with the San Francisco public utilities commission working largely on negotiating infrastructure and other sort of sustainability improvements and new developments.

“I was asked to come in shortly after the negotiations to give life to the Host City Agreement (HCA), that was struck and bring it to a point where we could actually implement it and hold the events,” said Martin.

Martin’s primary focus is the CEQA process and getting the different plans in order relating to the people plan, the security plan etc., that are called for in the HCA. Once his team reviews the public commentary, they’ll look at the kinds of technical studies needed to develop the environmental impact analysis as well as potential mitigation strategies to refine the plans surrounding the project that will inform the drafting of the draft EIR.

His biggest challenge is that this EIR is like a wide-ranging document, not just a capital project in one place. “It’s a capital project in a number of places and not just an event - it’s a series of events of a large scope so my challenge is making sure that people are coordinated across the different aspects of what we are trying to plan for, and using the feedback from the public process to really work through these processes to get to a draft EIR. We think this reflects our best attempt at putting the event description forward in a way that people can understand and react to.”

While he says there’s plenty to do, Martin says timing is on target. “We've got a really good relationship with ACEA and are developing a relationship with the other agencies who are interested from a regulatory perspective. It’s a challenge and not one that I take lightly but I think we are on target. I’ve been in just about every meeting and this process really means a lot to me.”

*Image: 2012 Proposed Event Uses

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cup EIR Public Meetings Tonight & Thursday

Tonight is the first of two public scoping meetings to receive public comment on the NOP (Notice of Preparation of an Environmental Impact Report) distributed several weeks ago:

6:308:30 pm, at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Chamber, Room 250, City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

The second meeting is tomorrow night:

* Thursday February 24th, 2011, 6:308:30 pm, at the Port of San Francisco, Pier 1, The Embarcadero at Washington Street.

The purpose of these meetings is to receive oral comments to assist the San Francisco Planning Department in reviewing the scope and content of the environmental impact analysis and information to be contained in the EIR for the proposed project.

Said Mike Martin, Project Manager for the City, "We have been receiving comments. I haven’t reviewed them myself yet but we’re excited about that. We’re in a very compressed time frame so the more interaction we can have with the public and the stake holders at this point so tonight’s meeting & tomorrow’s meeting are huge in the sense that we’re going to really start hearing first hand what people have to say.

The public comment period runs through March 11 and we’re excited to as many comments as we can. We have a more focused picture than we had at the outset of this process but obviously we need people’s help to refine what’s really going to work."

Written comments will also be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on March 11, 2011. Written comments should be sent to Bill Wycko, San Francisco Planning Department, 1650 Mission Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103.

The NOP is posted on the SF Planning Department website:

Monday, February 21, 2011


It was a matter of time and valuable learning experience for all involved: a capsize aboard the prototype AC45 occurred on Monday in some 20 knots of breeze on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. Artemis Racing was enjoying its first training session on the boat with members of America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) when the crew stopped sailing to do a little maintenance and got caught in a stalled position. The boat capsized and the wing hit the water.

ACRM CEO Iain Murray said, “The wind was just 5-10 degrees off axis and the whole wing powered up very fast and the boat tipped over.” Fortunately no one on board was hurt and most of the damage was to the wing’s non-structural vinyl skin. There was no apparent damage to the boat. “They’re more robust than they probably look,” Murray said.

As reported by Richard Gladwell (, when Sail-World arrived at the Viaduct Harbor, the building teams had arrived from Oracle Racing’s factory in Warkworth, and the wingsail already had its outer skin stripped to reveal the frame damage. The lower part of the wingsail appeared undamaged.

Murray told Sail-World that they expected the damage to be repaired by Friday. In a normal racing situation the shore crew would have a replacement wingsail and this would be fitted to enable the America’s Cup yachts to sail again the next race day.

Murray said that while there are two other wingsails in advanced stages of construction it will be quicker to repair the damaged wingsail rather than push the other two through to a rapid more completion. Artemis elected to help with the repairs in lieu of their on-water training in the AC45 this week.

Paul Cayard, CEO of Artemis Racing, said, “One of the lessons learned is in rescuing the boat and maybe we have learned how to do that with less damage next time. It is all part of the learning experience. It is why we built the prototype.” Full story at

Currently, all six teams registered to compete in AC34 are sharing the ACRM protocol boat for training purposes. The next four boats are expected to be delivered by mid-March and will be delivered on a first come basis according to each team's order of registration. The six teams currently registered are (in order of registration) are: ORACLE Racing (USA), Defender; Mascalzone Latino (ITA), Challenger of Record; ALEPH Team France; Artemis Racing (SWE); Energy Team (FRA); Team Australia.

Dates for the World Cup Series, which will be raced in the AC45, were announced today with venues expected to be announced in a few weeks according to America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). The first half of the AC World Series will consist of five nine-day regattas in 2011, finishing up with three more regattas by mid-2012.

Event One: 16 – 24 July

Event Two: 13 - 21 August

Event Three: 17 – 25 September

Event Four: 15 – 23 October

Event Five: 10 – 18 December

Event Six: 17 – 25 February, 2012

Event Seven: 14 – 22 April, 2012

Event Eight: 19 – 27 May, 2012

*Dates are subject to change

Sunday, February 13, 2011


iPhone app soon available

Dr. Newell “Toby” Garfield is Director and Professor of Oceanography at the Romberg Tiburon Center, San Francisco State University (part of the California State University System). His organization has some assets that he’d like to offer to the organizers of the next America’s Cup.

Garfield’s team has developed technology to measure surface currents using shore-based radio Doppler remote sensors to map surface currents over a large area with sufficiently high temporal and spatial resolution.

For sailors, this means RTC can measure the whole area that America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) has designated for the AC34 racecourse and provide current data at half hour intervals with a spatial resolution of 400 meters. With a few more antennae established at pivotal locations around the Bay, RTC hopes to bring that spatial resolution down to about 200 meters for even tighter near-time current measurement.

According to Garfield, in prior America’s Cup competition spatial variation of the currents did not play a significant role; in the open ocean like Valencia and Auckland the currents were spatially relatively constant. We know that on San Francisco Bay surface currents, waves and wind will likely be highly variable over the racecourse area during racing.

Currents near the Golden Gate can reach speeds of nearly 3 m/s (6 knots) while to the east the currents don’t usually exceed 1 m/s. During the tidal cycle strong current fronts migrate across the region, accompanied by changes in the waves, always posing significant challenge for sailors racing on the Bay.

“For the America’s Cup and for all sailors on the Bay, the goal is to compute the currents with minimal lag time and then develop projections for “real time” and short term forecasts,” Garfield said. “For someone not familiar with the Bay, it levels the playing field on what the current variability is across the Bay and will start showing people where these things are on an hourly basis right through the tidal cycle.”

Garfield doubts that anyone else has this kind of data to offer. “Anybody else that would give you the kind of resolution we’re getting would have to be using a model - this is our prediction based on the physics - most models wont be able to that. This is the equivalent of putting in a current meter every 200 meters on the whole racecourse which would be impossible.”

His team is working on an iPhone app as a mechanism to deliver the current information that Garfield anticipates will available in about a month. Presently, the only way to retrieve the data is from the RTC website but it is completely free to anyone who wants to use it.

Garfield concluded, “Because it’s a state-funded project there’s not a lot of direct benefit to RTC. Our goal is to create a demand for the information just to keep the funding in place to be able to continue providing this data which has important application for all Bay sailors.” For more information, visit

*NOTE: Garfield is hoping to garner interest from AC34 parties who would be interested in another RTC asset - its incredible waterfront facility located on the east side of Tiburon in Marin County. Just a short boat ride over to the San Francisco city front, RTC consists of 11 acres of flat land with deep water access - over 25 feet, a much sought after resource on the Bay and a perfect location for AC hospitality activities and other. For more info contact Toby Garfield at

Left pic: The 42 MHz Seasonde antenna located at Crissy Field.

Right pic: Green drops represent presently deployed HF radar systems on SF Bay; red crosses indicate locations of proposed additional systems.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

And So The Ball Rolls...

Announced today by the San Francisco Planning Department, Major Environmental Analysis (MEA) Division is the issuance of a Notice of Preparation (NOP) of an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the proposed 34th America's Cup Races and Pier 27 James R. Herman Cruise Terminal and Northeast Wharf Plaza Project, all located along the San Francisco city front.

The NOP is the "kick-off" document for public review and comment, and includes information on how to provide oral and written comments to the San Francisco Planning Department. According to America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA), also included with the NOP is the above map of the proposed AC34 race area.

The NOP states dates for two public scoping meetings to receive public comment:

* Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011, 6:308:30 pm, at the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Chamber, Room 250, City Hall, 1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place

* Thursday February 24th, 2011, 6:308:30 pm, at the Port of San Francisco, Pier 1, The Embarcadero at Washington Street.

The purpose of these meetings is to receive oral comments to assist the San Francisco Planning Department in reviewing the scope and content of the environmental impact analysis and information to be contained in the EIR for the proposed project.

Written comments will also be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on March 11, 2011. Written comments should be sent to Bill Wycko, San Francisco Planning Department, 1650 Mission Street, Suite 400, San Francisco, CA 94103.

The NOP is posted on the SF Planning Department website:

Related: San Francisco supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to waive competitive bidding requirements before hiring a consultant for its America's Cup environmental study, selecting Environmental Science Associates, a San Francisco firm, for the job. Read more:

Monday, February 7, 2011


With its technical shakedown now complete, Tuesday February 8 is handover day in Auckland, New Zealand at the America’s Cup Race Management Boat Shed, 101 Halsey Street, in the Viaduct, for the new AC45 wing-sailed catamaran, marking the beginning of the next era of the America’s Cup.

The handover will take p America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) will now manage the logistics, care and maintenance of the prototype as competitors test the boat over the coming weeks. The AC45 is the forerunner to the larger AC72, which will be used in the 34thAmerica’s Cup.

A traditional Maori blessing will start the day as competitors, prospective competitors and New Zealand dignitaries converge to see the latest in America’s Cup technology and celebrate the tireless effort of the New Zealand marine industry to make this occasion possible.

“To see the AC45 come together from just a concept in September to a full-fledged racing machine by January is a true testament to the skill of the New Zealand marine industry,” said Iain Murray, America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) CEO and Regatta Director.

“In particular we would like to thank the team at Core Builders Composites who have produced an incredible boat that is fast yet robust. They remain hard at work on the balance of the AC45 fleet, which will be delivered to the teams for testing through April, before we leave Auckland to compete in the 2011 America’s Cup World Series.”

Full story at:

*As yet, still no venues or dates announced for the World Series…

Saturday, February 5, 2011


En route to New Zealand for various AC45 celebrations, Louis Vuitton’s iconic representative Bruno Trouble dropped into San Francisco to host a media lunch on Thursday, and to survey for his first time the future site of the America’s Cup 34. Lunch on Louis Vuitton is nothing without champagne, so imagine Trouble’s momentary distress on discovering that the good restaurant La Mar did not have any Moet aboard. But, nothing that a quick trip to the nearest liquor store couldn’t resolve…

Trouble spoke to a group of 12 local journalists with much enthusiasm for LV’s participation in AC34, as official timekeeper for the World Series events, which will kick off this summer in the AC45, venues yet to be determined. LV will also host, as they have done since 1983 the challenger elimination series known as the Louis Vuitton Cup, which is tentatively slated to start July 13 2013, on San Francisco Bay. The winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup wins the right to sail against current defender, American syndicate ORACLE Racing.

While LV represents much of the tradition and sophistication associated with the America’s Cup, Trouble believes the new, very different format for the next event starting with the AC45s is only going to be good for sailing. “I really believe this progress, this new chapter will help catch up with the big task ahead of us - everybody will be interested and this will create a new interest in sailing just because of those boats.”

“Louis Vuitton will be good to make this link between the 34th America’s Cup and the future,” Trouble reminded his guests. “Over the last 27 years the Cup has traveled all over the world - to San Diego, to New Zealand, Valencia and to here. If you read the story well, the only permanent body in these 27 years is Vuitton because the Cup has changed hands, cities, teams, but we have been the only permanent body.”

Mark Bullingham, director of marketing for America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA), was also on hand to field questions and said, “We couldn’t be more delighted to have Louis Vuitton on board, they’ve been a great partner for a long time and we’re looking forward to working with them to deliver the best ever Louis Vuitton Cup and the best ever America’s Cup.”

Bullingham confirmed that ACEA is in negotiations with a couple of different offices at the moment and hoping to be operational by March 1. “We’ve got people working here already and will be building up to a total staff of around 120 by 2013,” Bullingham said.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Mark Buell has one of the tallest order jobs going in the America’s Cup and he doesn’t get paid for it. Is the man crazy? Not yet, but I’ll check back with him in September 2013. Buell is Chairman of the America’s Cup Organizing Committee (ACOC). Through the auspices of the ACOC, a San Francisco-based not for profit group established after Larry Ellison and ORACLE Racing won the 33rd America’s Cup almost a year ago, Buell and his team uphold a crucial part of the infrastructure upon which the success of the next Cup event is dependent

So, just what is ACOC’s charge?

According to Buell ACOC’s responsibility is to carry out all those items in the agreement with the City, known as the Host City Agreement, to host AC34 in San Francisco.

ACOC has to raise about $32 million to do the environmental documents on the improvements to the Port, for the security that’s going to be needed - the extra police, the extra transportation, the placement and permitting of bleachers along the waterfront, coordinating with the Golden Gate National Park, and the State over at Angel Island and the City to make sure everything is in place for the race.

ACOC will also assist the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) in their fundraising (ACEA needs to raise approximately $270 million to build out the physical infrastructure for the event in the City) and with tasks like helping people working in the event relocate to the City as well the permitting that will be involved to develop the infrastructure.

“Some 2000 people will move to the city for at least a year, like the crews of the boats competing - we’ll have to help those people get housing, help their kids into school, get them settled - there’s just a myriad of responsibilities that have to happen,” Buell explained.

Key dates are beginning to slide by that are crucial to sponsors who will be looking for as much value for their big sponsorship dollars as possible. Per the Protocol, format, schedule, scoring and venues were to be announced on January 31 for the new World Series beginning this year in the AC45 catamaran, but already that announcement has been delayed a few weeks according to ACEA.

Another date that’s just slipped by is February 1, when ACEA and ACOC, as a requirement of the agreement with the City, were to present a sponsorship program. Buell said that both groups met on Tuesday and are very close to an agreement. “There are no disagreements so we’re verbally in agreement, just a few details to iron out. The most important part is that we will have just one team focused on the fund-raising effort on behalf of both sides to move this forward,” Buell stated.

“I can’t speak to the Event Authority and their responsibilities to release venue dates and so on, but there’s no question they’re under an enormous amount of pressure. It only speaks to how tightly designed this whole schedule is to get to the America’s Cup by 2013. To ACOC’s schedule, we’re already raising money,” Buell added.

Louis Vuitton is on board as a major sponsor but Buell says the two groups are still in the hunt for the next big sponsors. “It takes, in my experience and ACEA’s experience, six months from introducing a company an idea to getting a signature. Many companies have been approached and there are many companies interested.”

While it’s been a volunteer run Committee of some 50 people to date, Buell will begin to staff ACOC shortly, announcing in a few weeks an executive director, an operations director and hopefully a development director, initially.

So how did Buell get himself into this daunting role? “That’s a very good question,” Buell laughed. “The City made a pitch to me and my first mistake was saying I would be their acting chair until they found somebody better! But, I was the guy who always got up in the middle of the night when the America’s Cup was on to watch it. I’ve always been fascinated. I crewed as a young man on sailboats in races on the Bay.”

Buell, a San Francisco native and former real estate developer married to Susie Tompkins Buell, a well respected San Francisco business woman and philanthropist, said he’s fortunate to be able to devote the kind of time that the “project” needs. He’s also well positioned to share his years of civic experience; he’s currently President of the Recreation and Park Commission in San Francisco, and he chairs the Board of the Golden Gate National Park Conservancy; the latter takes up about two thirds of the viewing area of the race course. Technically, he’s also “landlord” to both the Golden Gate Yacht Club and the St Francis Yacht Club.

“I’m very familiar with much of the public policy that is in place around doing anything like this,” Buell said.

His big challenge in all this? Time.

“We’re on a very tight timeframe, there’s no question about it. San Francisco’s new mayor, Ed Lee’s first order of business was to organize an inter-governmental task force to make sure the City did their fair share of the business and I don't think the city will slow down on their side. I think ACEA has a tall mountain to climb getting all the sponsorship money in on time, and at ACOC we have a big order in trying to raise $32 million. It’ll be challenging but the negotiations today with ACEA were definitely on the right page as to how to make this happen. We all want to get there.”