The Louis Vuitton Cup finalists Emirates New Zealand and Italy's Luna Rossa race their super flying catamarans the AC72s this weekend toward one team's chance to race defender Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup in September, while young and gifted sailors from around the world practiced on a glorious hot day on SF Bay Friday morning in the AC45s. The youth will race the first four days in September just before the America's Cup.
The 2013 America's Cup has proven to challenge the sportsmanship of the fleet through economic and personal losses as competitors went through the qualifying races in California and in Italy and then back, returning to San Francisco this summer.
Yet it's the first time in the history of the America's Cup that the public has seen events unfold inland rather than in the wide open spaces of the ocean, this time so close spectators along the shoreline look the sailors in the face and wave. Such world class sailors are rarely this accessible and visible to the public. Even the Red Bull series for young sailors is new and meant to create a pathway for the first time to the America's Cup. AC sailors coach the youth.
Many America's Cup crew members have won Olympic gold medals and at least two have been knighted, Russell Coutts and Ben Ainslee. Yet sailing and experiencing the ocean is for everybody, one way or another.
Meanwhile on Friday afternoon a trio from defender Oracle Team USA signed posters under the hot sun for happy sun-kissed children and their parents. Grinders Shannon Falcone, Sam Newton and young Rome Kirby, a trimmer/grinder, made the day of some by signing not only the AC poster but a t-shirt or a book or whatever the fans brought. One young man with a t-shirt was Alex Blatt of Sausalito who starts the eighth grade this year. He's been spending his summer at the Spaulding Boat Center and volunteering with the Healthy Ocean Project. Alex says he likes marine biology.
Alex helps raise awareness of our need to clean the ocean to protect wildlife. The Healthy Ocean Project he says cleaned 170 tons of plastic and other garbage from the San Francisco Bay shoreline and creeks in one day.
Alex also learned about the America's Cup and brought his Healthy Ocean Project t-shirt to the poster signing for autographs, shown in the photos in the slideshow. Alex has also collected signatures from the public for the Healthy Ocean Project so the group can reach out to educate about the need for a clean ocean.
Alex says the Spaulding Boat Center builds wooden boats and he learned the parts of a sailboat this way. The instructor knows the director of the Healthy Ocean Project.
The project actually focuses on marine debris/plastics; sustainable seafood; and marine protected areas.
Poster signings happen regularly and this weekend sessions should be 4:00 - 4:30 Saturday and Sunday.
Oracle and the other teams often practice on the Bay on non-race or "reserve" days or at non-race times on race days; and the park provides ample space to relax, mingle and enjoy daily.
Movie night in the park
Wednesday the pavillion will show the film "Pirates of the Caribbean" for free. America's Cup poster signing from 4:00 to 4:30.
Racing Schedule here.
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 the SUBSCRIBE button at the top of this article.
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