Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The America's Cup
We are back from our trip 'home' to California and school starts tomorrow. There are lots of lovely summer memories for us to look back on and absorb but today I want to tell you about our day out in San Francisco to watch the America's Cup.
We actually got to see one of the final races in the Louis Vuitton Cup, the challenger series, that determines which boat races the defender (USA) in the America’s Cup Finals. After a month of races the last two in the race were the boats from New Zealand and Italy.
The America's Cup has been contested since 1851 making it the oldest trophy in international sport. Having grown up as the daughter of a passionate yacht racer, I've known of it's existence for as long as I could remember. We knew the 2013 race would be coming to San Francisco before we even left to live in France but it was a lucky coincidence that we happened to be back there at just the right time. Rather like cycling, yacht racing is a better participation sport than spectator sport, but this year for the first time the organizers have tried to make it more spectator friendly with a grandstand overlooking the picturesque race course.
We paid for the seats, but we could just have easily watched for free from the shore as all these people in front of us were doing. However, the thrill of being in attendance at a major sporting event and access to the beer tent just about made the seats worthwhile. I got better photos too!
Racing yachts have come a long way since 1851. The boats in this year's race are more like space ships than sailing boats and literally fly when they really get going. This is not the racing I grew up doing!
The trouble with sailing is not only is it difficult to watch, but it is also incredibly weather dependent and these super hi-tech boats are prone to breaking. A lot. Team New Zealand was way out in the lead when their dagger board became jammed and they had to abandon the race...
...leaving the Italian boat to sail home uncontested. A bit of an anti-climax for what was already a short race but that's sailing!
The New Zealand boat was soon fixed and graciously sailed in close to the grandstand so that the crowd could see better which made for much better pictures than if they had actually been racing! The crowd clicked away while the race committee decided whether the wind conditions would permit the second race of the day to go ahead.
While they deliberated, we checked out the America's Cup Village where you can see an AC45 catamaran up close. That's the angle the boats are at when they are going at high speed!
There were some fun games for little kids which kept Florence entertained.
She took a while to master the catamaran trampoline, but was so pleased with herself once she finally figured how to climb to the top. It might be a while before she's ready to take to the high seas though.
Eventually it was decided that the wind was too strong for the second race to start. However, the conditions were fine for a junior regatta of much more stable boats. Although the super yachts are amazing to watch, it was in some ways more fascinating to watch these simple races close to shore and the girls got quite into what was going on.
It is ten years this week since my Dad's premature death from cancer. He taught me to sail and he taught Keith to sail. I wish he could have taught his granddaughters to sail too. He would have absolutely loved the chance to watch the America's Cup live so I am so glad we took the opportunity to go and see it.