America's Cup San Francisco started the Red Bull Youth Challenge this afternoon and proved the oft-repeated wisdom,
You have to have a good start.
And so, the young men from around the world in San Francisco's Red Bull Youth Challenge started their yacht races spectacularly this gorgeous afternoon, USA winning Race One and New Zealand winning Race Two and the day overall. This is what the America's Cup San Francisco should have been and is supposed to be.
You must get a good start. That's what the Red Bull Youth Challenge winner New Zealand said after racing started today on San Francisco Bay between eight countries with ten 45 foot long catamarans, powered with hard wing sails the size of airplane wings. Artemis Racing of Sweden also rises like a phoenix, flying after New Zealand hull to hull and getting into a three-way tie for third after the first day. Somewhere right out there on his white three story mega yacht and watching, Larry Ellison is smiling, perhaps shooting a few hoops on board.
Red Bull Youth Challenge, sailboat racers age 19-24 from eight countries on ten AC45 catamarans used for the America’s Cup World Series, began racing in a pack this glorious Sunday afternoon on San Francisco Bay, complete with surprises after USA finished first in Race One. The same team American Youth Sailing Force encountered Code Zero or gennaker trouble near the Golden Gate Bridge in Race Two, leaving New Zealand and Sweden jockeying in Race Two for the win. New Zealand Sailing Team with skipper Peter Burling took the race and the lead overall.
New Zealand passed Artemis Racing/Swedish Youth Challenge a couple of times when Artemis had the gennaker furled, New Zealand leaving the gennaker up until overtaking Artemis.
Australia dropped the gennaker in the water near Alcatraz and couldn’t get the sack of bricks back on board for awhile. The sails are big and take on a lot of water weight. Indeed, everything is bigger than what the youth sailors are used to, such as a Laser, a single-person, monohull lightweight dinghy. Some are learning to work as part of a five-person crew and only New Zealand has been together.
Adding to the unpredictability generally with the pack so tight, results are likely to change as such gennaker experiences are probably unpredictable. Note the boats are one-design, all built the same and nobody experienced equipment failure as on the AC72s. Even the Americans come from all over so do not have the home-court advantage say that a John Kostecki would provide to Oracle Team USA. However Youth Force Sailing-Team manager Ian Andrewes, 23, does come from San Francisco.
So ended the first two of eight races on a beautiful 18 knot afternoon along Marina Green to Alcatraz, capturing the spirit of international racing on San Francisco Bay. The City could meet each sailor up close and personal, close enough for not just an autograph or photo but a hug or kiss. The young men sat shoulder to shoulder in the hot sun, many with their sunglasses and sunscreen on, meeting many young fans including many girls of all ages. “It’s for my daughter” said one young woman.
Charlie Ekberg, 23 and skipper of the Swedish Team who also had sailed with Artemis in Naples during the World Series, relaxed and played the bean bag toss with a couple of team members after the race, Jonathan Ameln, floater; and Nils Akervall, bow. Niclas During, wing, joined in for the poster signing. A Swedish Mom and her daughter spoke Swedish to the young men when her daughter’s turn for autographs came up.
The approachability of this America’s Cup, an historic race older than the Olympics, makes it different from all the races before it. Sailors young and mature make themselves available to the public particularly at the poster signings; the professional sailors make themselves available to the youth sailors. The fantastic media and communications put the world on board.
Red Bull Challenge has six more races to go, through Wednesday. The America’s Cup begins on Saturday with Oracle Team USA and challenger Emirates New Zealand. If Oracle wins, the race returns to San Francisco in four years. If New Zealand wins, the race goes to the location of New Zealand’s choice.
The pavillion is along the Embarcadero before Fisherman's Wharf and is an easy walk, pedicab ride, bike ride or Muni ride from the ferry building and Embarcadero BART.
For more information: www.AmericasCup.com
For more stories by this writer check out CBS San Francisco's website under Eye on the Bay, San Francisco arts & culture "Best Of"; and San Francisco Arts & Culture on Examiner.com. Subscribe by hittng theSUBSCRIBE button at the top of this article.
CBS SF website: Weirdest museums in the East Bay
CBS SF website: Best permanent exhibits in the North Bay
CBS SF website: Best outdoor theaters around the Bay Area
CBS SF website: Best local authors in San Francisco
CBS SF website: Presidential and American History around SF
CBS SF website: Celebrate Star Wars Day on the Peninsula
CBS SF website: Best places to find street artists in SF