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Rosalea Barker: Nascar on outriggers?

Nascar on outriggers?

By Rosalea Barker
August 26, 2012

Glad I’m not at the RNC in Dampa, Florida. While they’re having ill winds and blowing no good, over here in San Francisco, the wind is welcome.

This week has been a taster for the big America’s Cup hoopla coming up in September, 2013 in the City by the Bay. Having written about Russell Coutts’ vision for a more exciting spectator experience when the cup was shown off at SF City Hall back in 2010, I was curious to see how that’s going. They certainly are getting plenty of coverage on local TV, even on the channels that don’t have the exclusive rights. ABC7’s weather forecast, for example, begins with what kinds of winds will be out on the Bay for the races in this week’s World Series.

Besides getting plenty of airtime, the organizers have put In the effort to make it easy for folks to go to the venue, with MUNI staff selling return bus tickets right at the BART stations close to where the 30L line goes by. And so it was that I turned up at the St Francis Yacht Club (not the holders of the Cup—the San Francisco Yacht Club has that honor but their clubhouse is distant from the action) to see just how many people would come out to watch what the organizers call “stadium sailing”. It was a foggy, cold afternoon—typical SF summer weather--but everyone seemed to find some way to fend off the cold.


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I caught my first glimpse of Team Emirates through the guard rail of the yacht club, as it jostled around before their semifinal match race against Team Oracle/Spithill started. In case you’ve never “been there, couldn’t leave”, and I hope you haven’t, that’s Alcatraz in the background.


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Ta da! Oracle Team USA/Coutts. In case you’ve never “been there, done that”, and I hope you haven’t, it’s a 245 foot drop from the Golden Gate Bridge.


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It’s about a half-mile walk from the yacht club to the America’s Cup village on Marina Green, and my ambling old lady gait attracted the sympathy of Dale, the driver of one of the courtesy golf carts the organizers have provided to move people to and fro. (Does that qualify as gaiter-aid?) Everyone on the shore team—many of them volunteers--was really friendly and helpful, but I do declare that the Smiling Face of the America’s Cup Award, must go to Dale.


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And so it was that I turned up at the St Francis Yacht Club (not the holders of the Cup—the Golden Gate Yacht Club has that honor) to see just how many people would come out to watch what the organizers call “stadium sailing”. Alas and alack! As superstition would have it, I wasn’t wearing the lucky Barker underwear, and my namesake was done out of a place in Sunday’s match race final. Even the plastic walls of the media tent seemed teary-eyed at the outcome as Emirates Team New Zealand came back inshore to get ready for the team racing that would take place a bit later.


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Besides the media filing center and network television areas, there is another area that is for both the public and non-traditional media. The Cup organizers are experimenting with distributing the content created in the Digital Boatshed via YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, and Google+. The DB also has an LCD “social broadcast set” displaying live tweets and social feeds, along with race content. A young Australian, Torvar Misky, acts as host throughout the races, interviewing guests, moderating offline and online conversation, and hosting video segments. This weekend, “popular culture blogger” Beth Spotswood, from SFGate is providing “her perspective on the lifestyle side of the America’s Cup.”


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Ahhh! The lifestyle side of the America’s Cup. Sipping champers with your sweater arms knotted loosely around your shoulders is what instantly springs to mind. But with the on-course crashes this week, Coutts vision of turning the sport into Nascar-on-outriggers seems to be taking shape very nicely thank you. Here’s a pic of a big screen view of Jimmy Spithill’s appearance on the Marina Green stage after his team also won today’s team races for the World Series Championships.


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Next thing, they’ll be calling him Dale. As in Earnhardt, Jr.

*************

--PEACE—

rosalea.barker@gmail.com

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