As the marine layer rolls into the San Francisco Bay, almost covering the Golden Gate Bridge, two ORACLE Racing yachts sail across the water, disappearing for a brief moment into the thick fog.
Over the past couple months, the ORACLE Racing team has been out on the San Francisco Bay practicing for the upcoming America’s Cup regatta, one of the largest international yacht racing events in the world with participants from several different countries.
With exhibitions starting as early as August this year, the Marina District of San Francisco, the host city of the 34th America’s Cup, is busy with preparations. As the center for not only viewing the regatta but for America’s Cup festivities as well, the Marina community has been prepping themselves for the influx of visitors, on top of their usual tourists, that the city is hoping to bring in through the America’s Cup.
“I’m already beginning to imagine all the tourists that will be flocking the area and dashing around like ants,” said Marina resident, Big Onglatco.
Like Onglatco, many residents have shared some concern towards what their neighborhood might look like because of the crowd, but a few have also said they are looking forward to the big event being hosted in their city and are proud to show off San Francisco to the world.
“San Francisco has always been a premier venue in hosting large scale and exciting events,” said Carlo Bonafe, San Francisco resident and frequent Marina visitor. “It’s nice to know the city will be welcoming another tradition to its already large list of celebrations.”
To accommodate the large number of spectators that are expected to visit the city for the America’s Cup, Capt. Ann Mannix of the San Francisco Police Department’s Northern Station, which serves the Marina District and Pacific Heights area, explained the great amount of planning the SFPD Northern Station has been putting in to prepare for the America’s Cup regatta.
“We are increasing staffing for the race dates for crowd management purposes,” said Capt. Mannix, adding that the Marina Green Park will be holding a festival in association with the America’s Cup, making the public shore the focus for the Northern Station.
“All affected city agencies have been working on the event for over a year,” said Capt. Mannix. “We will also have a contingent of officers dedicated to crowd associated crimes, including auto burglary, street robbery, public intoxication, illegal vending, etc.”
America’s Cup organizers have been promoting the regatta as a “family-friendly event,” making SFPD’s job to maintain San Francisco’s reputation under the international spotlight as the “perfect host” of utmost importance to the city.
In 2010, the ORACLE Racing team won the 33rd America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain, allowing ORACLE co-founder and CEO Larry Ellison to choose which city will host the next America’s Cup. Ellison chose San Francisco, and on March 28 this year, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the agreement made in 2010 to host the international event. According to America’s Cup organizers, this will be the first time the America’s Cup will be hosted in San Francisco.
Although much of the talk surrounding the upcoming America’s Cup regatta preparations have been about the renovations of the piers where the racing teams will stay, which are currently underway after, according to news reports, a scaled-back agreement was made by the city, the Marina District is where most of the spectators will be.
The proposed route of the race takes place right on the San Francisco Bay starting from Piers 27 and 29. The yachts will then go towards the Bay Bridge, circling around near Treasure Island then passing Alcatraz, heading towards Marin. From there, the yachts will head towards the Golden Gate Bridge, turning right in front of Crissy Field and passing directly in front of the Marina shoreline as they race back to the finish-line.
For the Marina District, this means a front row seat to all the action. With parks such as Marina Greens Park and its neighbor in the Presidio, Crissy Field, spectators will be able to see the race much closer than anywhere else in the city, as written about by District 2 Supervisor, Mark Farrell, in some of his columns for the Marina Times.
Although the America’s Cup is an international event, much of the organizing and planning has taken place right in the Marina. The Golden Gate Yacht Club, which is in the Marina and is home to the ORACLE Racing team, has been busy as well with meetings in preparation for the upcoming regatta, according to Commodore Norbert Bajurin.
Tom Ehman, Vice Commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, has been traveling around the country for “Cupdate” shows, which are presentations on updates for the America’s Cup. His most recent “Cupdate” called “Flying on Water” was held at Pier 27 on April 27, where the 161-year-old America’s Cup trophy was also displayed.
The city still has much to prepare before the exhibition races begin, but it is an overall exciting experience for San Francisco, and more specifically, the Marina community.
The America’s Cup shows off some of the Marina’s best assets, such as its views of the San Francisco Bay and being the home to the ORACLE Racing team’s yacht club. The America’s Cup regatta brings international attention and gives the Marina a chance to share with the world their small-town hospitality to all those visiting the city during this historic event.