With America's Cup at stake, port touts San Diego Bay as perfect for stadium sailing



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SAN DIEGO — The Port of San Diego is making a final push to land the America's Cup, including releasing a splashy video touting the bay as a perfect venue for so-called stadium sailing.

San Diego is competing with Bermuda, a British territory, to host the 35th America's Cup in 2017.

The video, posted online Wednesday, says organizers can count on a breeze of more than 8 knots on San Diego Bay 93 percent of the time to ensure a reliable TV schedule.

That pales compared to the wind that blew in through the Golden Gate Bridge during the 2013 America's Cup on San Francisco Bay. But America's Cup boss Russell Coutts pulled the regatta from San Francisco, unhappy that the city was unwilling to give cup organizers the same terms as last time, which included free use of piers and city services.

Still, the next-generation America's Cup catamarans are expected to rise up on hydrofoils and skim above the waves in single-digit wind speeds. The new class will be 62-footers, 10 feet shorter than the boats used in 2013, when Oracle Team USA staged one of the greatest comebacks in sports to beat Emirates Team New Zealand.

San Diego hosted the America's Cup in 1988, 1992 and 1995, with racing on the Pacific Ocean several miles off Point Loma.

The port touts San Diego's experience in hosting other big events, including the Super Bowl, World Series and golf's U.S. Open.

The 2013 America's Cup was the first in the regatta's long history to be contested inshore, visible to spectators on shore as well a TV audience. Coutts and his boss, software billionaire Larry Ellison, want to continue that concept of stadium sailing.

If San Diego wins the bidding, racing will be on the bay in an area between Harbor Island and the Embarcadero.

San Diego Bay hosted a stop on the America's Cup World Series in 45-foot catamarans in 2011, as well as a stop on the RC 44 circuit, a class co-designed by Coutts.

If Bermuda wins, racing will be on the Great Sound.

A venue decision is expected before the end of the year.

Coutts took the America's Cup from San Diego in 1995, skippering Team New Zealand to a five-race sweep of Dennis Conner. Coutts still owns a home on Coronado, across the bay from downtown San Diego. He has won the America's Cup five times, the first three as skipper for two different countries and twice as CEO of Oracle Team USA.

Also Wednesday, Sir Ben Ainslie's British syndicate released a video showing its modified 45-foot catamaran foiling near Southampton, its hulls completely out of the water.

"Ten months ago we had nothing, so to be out there today foiling in one of these boats — after such a short time frame — is the result of a huge amount of effort from all of the team, especially the shore team and the designers," Ainslie, the skipper of Ben Ainslie Racing, said in a statement.

"It's a great Day One but still a long way to go for this program. But we're really excited," said Ainslie, the most-decorated sailor in Olympic history with five medals, including four gold.


Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson

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