ORACLE TEAM USA won race eight of the America's Cup San Francisco Saturday with wind almost at the limit and Emirates Team New Zealand the leader so far at 6 to negative one almost blew over, blowing away the fifty thousand astounded fans at the pavillion and the marina green. "Hydro! Hydro! Hydro!" called skipper Dean Barker as the enormous beast literally teetered on disaster. He needed the grinders to work frantically to power the sail, to make the curvature pop the other way since it had stayed in place when they tried to tack, or turn. Here's the America's Cup video and one may hear Dean Barker's voice.
It was something few had even imagined, rewarding and re-energizing the fans who have so loyally stuck with the Cup. One could hear it in ORACLE skipper Jimmy Spithill's voice and attitude. He is ready to rumble. "I almost ducked" he said about the towering beast ETNZ's AC72 almost crashing down on top of them. Skipper Dean Barker said it would have just taken a half degree more and
Somebody above must have been looking down on us.
Amid the Kiwi mortals, it seems tactician Ray Davies made a late call to the bow to tack, the grinders scrambled to get across the trampoline of the boat to start grinding. The late move triggered a timing misfire in the crew work that left wing trimmer Glenn Ashby with no juice available to invert the camber in the wing as the boat tacked. Davies appeared at Barker's side in the press conference.
Jimmy Spithill never looked back and finished the race alone except for the 50,000 fans and God knows how many millions or billions around the world watching on television and computers and phones.
The mood was upbeat around the pavillion for the rest of the afternoon, with Dean Barker taking the astonishing wake-up call in stride, almost bemusement. He talked more than he ever has and consistently soft spoken with some animation in his face, most of the questions being for him.
Meet Tony Rae and Grant Loretz: poster signings each afternoon after races
Fans outside, of all ages and sizes and shapes, lined up to get autographs, with things getting sillier and more fun as the line dwindled. Hats, posters from last season, Emirates jerseys, then, well, check out the slideshow. It brought a smile to the faces of not only elated fans but the handsome sailors too. Check out the big strong grinder Tony Rae and the object of some silly flirtation, the good sport Grant Loretz who obliged happily yet remained behind his Kaenons. Loretz coordinates sails and trims. The sailors as a whole inspire by setting examples of health and fitness aside from their world class skills and team work.
One should add the teams look astoundingly fit and healthy and each gentleman radiates perfection with great color on his face, underneath those team caps and sunglasses. The studio shots on the website with them looking rather pained and serious and pale don't do them justice. Come by and take your own picture, get a hug or a handshake. It's a rare opportunity to meet these charmers and heroes face to face.
Meanwhile, back on the water. The race committee measured the wind speed during the second race and cancelled it while in progress.
Racing resumes on Sunday at 1:15 with two races. Monday is an off day not a reserve day with no racing. Tuesday will have two races, if necessary.
For more information: www.AmericasCup.com
Check out youth sailing around the Bay at www.SailSFBay.org, particularly the 75 year old program on Oakland’s Lake Merritt.
The America’s Cup 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. The village and grandstands are at Marina Green.
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.
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