5 Things to Know About Racing USA 76

USA 76 has been racing quite frequently lately.  The new series she entered in is the South Beach Yacht Club’s Friday night races.  These races are open to anyone who wishes to help us crew and race against other boats.  Here’s 5 things to know about racing USA 76:

“What is it like?”  Racing USA 76 is most definitely a team effort.  The 84 foot race yacht takes participation and in order to fly around the racecourse.  There is a great deal of timing and coordination amongst the crew, who pitch in with headsail changes, trimming and maneuvering the yacht.  Everyone gets to take the helm and help out grinding the pedestals.

Have no racing experience?  It’s OK! Our crew is very knowledgeable and make it very easy for any first-timer to feel like a seasoned professional.  We explain the racing basics and teach you how to get involved.

“What’s the difference between races vs. the regular sails?”  Typical charters have us sailing in the central Bay and performing maneuvers less frequently. Racing has a faster pace, with a more refined mindset geared towards performing well against the fleet.  The intensity level is cranked up a bit and everyone involved has fun completing the course.

“Who do we race against?” Since we are almost twice the size of the other boats racing, it is often asked who our competition is.  The racing is all handicapped (PHRF), so the times correct out at the end allowing boats of different sizes to race against one another.  Still curious? Click here for more about PHRF ratings, Performance Handicap Racing Fleet.  USA 76 has a rating of -78. 

“Where do we race?” This summer USA 76 is racing with the South Beach Yacht Club (which is located at Pier 40 by the Giants stadium).  This has us sailing just south of the Bay Bridge.

Race_Schedule

GGYC Youth Sailor Races aboard USA 76

Another recipient of the Hoke Sailing Grant was selected to race aboard USA 76.  Olivia Dreilinger from the Golden Gate Yacht Club Youth Sailing Program sailed as crew for the February 7th Midwinter race on San Francisco Bay.  She describes her experience in her own words:

America’s Cup Challenger USA 76 Regata Report
Manuel Fagundes Seaweed Soup Regatta, Midwinter Race 4
By Olivia Dreilinger, February 7th, 2015


I had no idea what to expect, but was nervous and excited as I arrived at Pier 39’s Dock B and saw the USA 76.  After a quick orientation we boarded the boat and ventured out of the harbor.  I had the privilege of assisting the crew with multiple tasks throughout the sail.  First I raised the main sail using one of the grinders which was quite a task because of the 115 foot mast height and massive sail.  I got to time the start which felt like a lot of responsibility and definitely added to the anticipation.  I had to yell out at 30 second intervals the remaining time until the starting gun would sound, which was a fun challenge because I’m generally more quiet.  The start went reasonably well as we were the 2nd boat over the line after the TOMCAT.

Much to my surprise and delight they let me take the wheel on the first leg of the race.  This was both frightening and exhilarating because most of my prior experience has been on FJ’s and 420’s.  I learned that the USA 76 is a member of the International Americas Cup Class with a few small modifications including the metal safety rails along the perimeter.  This particular boat was used by Oracle BMW racing to compete in the 2003 America’s Cup.

The race was conveniently timed between two storms, so the weather was actually not too bad.  The wind came in from SSE at approximately 9mph, which is slightly above San Francisco’s average of 8mph in magnitude, but the south east direction was unusual.  We finished in 6th place at 1:12:27 (PHRF adjusted to 1:23:46) after Bodacious, Zamazaan, California Condor, Tomcat, and Wicked Sister, all of which used spinnakers. I learned that the US Coast Guard has a restriction on sail area in the bay and consequently the USA 76 cannot use a spinnaker because of the excessive power it would create. The boat mainly lost time due to the fact that legs three and five were on a lay line, preventing USA 76 from using her greatest advantage: the ability to sail closer to the wind.

I am very thankful to Ellen Hoke, Golden Gate Yacht Club, and the USA 76’s crew for providing me with this fantastic experience, many new insights to sailing and an amazing unforgettable memory.

Race Log: GGYC Midwinters, Race 4

 

Photo credit: Pat Lopez

Both USA 76 and TOMCAT lined up again last Saturday for race 4 of the Golden Gate Yacht Club’s midwinter series.  In the midst of a winter storm, the brief weather window cooperated for what turned out to be fantastic conditions on the Bay.  Our guests aboard both boats played an important role as crew members for the day, getting the boats around the course quickly and efficiently.

TOMCAT and USA 76 finished one, two, respectively across the finish line… but being on such fast boats, our corrected time was a different story.  At the end of the day, it doesn’t get much better than spending time on the water, nailing down maneuvers, and finishing well.

The USA 76 crew

USA 76 Race Crew GGYC Midwinters Race 4, 2015

 

The TOMCAT crew

TOMCAT Race Crew GGYC Midwinters Race 4, 2015

Youth Sailors on USA76 / ACsailingSF

Reposted from Ellen Hoke Sailing Photography – by Ellen Hoke

For the 2014-2015 Mid-Winter season, I wanted to “pay it forward” in the sailing community.  Working with ACsailingSF, I have established the Hoke Sailing Grant with a purpose of providing the opportunity for sailors in the Golden Gate Yacht Club Youth Sailing Program the chance to race during the GGYC Mid-Winter Regatta on USA76, a former America’s Cup racing vessel.

The recipients of the grant from December and January have written reports on their experience.  Two races remain in the series, so two additional youth sailors will have the opportunity to get out there and race for their club on an America’s Cup yacht.

My ACsailingSF Experience – by Anahita (January Race)

As I am going to pursue my studies in Paris, the water and sailing on the bay is the one thing I will miss the most. Being a sailor and spending quality time on San Francisco Bay, it was with great honor and appreciation that I was able to crew for USA76 during the GGYC Mid Winter Regatta on January 3, 2015.

As a big fan of Oracle Team USA and the America’s Cup, it was fulfilling a childhood dream of mine to sail on one of the boats previously used in the America’s Cup, and previously used by some of the best sailors in the world. I was in awe of the way USA76 skimmed the choppy bay with perfect fluidity and grace. I have watched this boat glide through the water, but being onboard this majestic piece of history was surreal. Every moment of this regatta was enriching: from learning the history of the boat and its origins, to feeling my adrenaline pump as we approached each mark with speed and energy. It was very interesting to hear the crew strategize about how to sail every leg of the race.

Although I was having a great time on the water, I was also learning new tactics from the crew. Onboard, I got to grind and skipper for the whole first leg of the race. I did not know the other people guest crewing for USA76, but working together as a team created a special bond between us and I was not shy to talk to most of the other team members.

It was an experience I will never forget. I hope to be able to sail on this amazing boat again someday. I would like to thank Ellen Hoke from the bottom of my heart for the experience of a lifetime, because without her, none of this would have been possible!

Merci Beaucoup,
Anahita

After racing, the GGYC Tender did a drive by in support

After racing, the GGYC Tender did a drive by in support

My ACsailngSF Experience – by Sterling (December Race)

On December 6th, 2014, I embarked on a ride on USA76 with a crew who I’ve never met before. Being on the boat was something magical due to its history of being raced by some of the best sailors in the world. My experience sailing with its crew and other passengers was fantastic.Being around people who didn’t really ask too much about my personal life wasn’t really an issue since everyone’s focus was on sailing as well as my own. I was able to work the grinders a whole lot which was so much fun as well as being able to skipper for awhile! I actually enjoyed grinding a lot more because I race small boats such as the FJ and 29ers and being designated as the crew meant a lot to me on the inside.

Throughout my time on the water, I was able to get over the weird feeling of not knowing anybody and simply focussed on doing my job as a crew and having fun while doing so. I didn’t really talk too much to everyone but if I could take back one thing back it would be that. Being the youngest on the ship felt a bit weird but as I kept working with everyone and sharing a few laughs here a there, I wished that I got to learn from these older men who had years of experience with sailing who were probably on an entirely different level of sailing than I was for sure.

I personally wish I could sail for the rest of my life so by the end, being around these wise and positive people really made the experience so much more worth going than I expected. I hope that one day I could possibly be a crew member of such a beautiful boat such as USA76 all while working alongside many others whose goal is similar to mine – to sail and be happy.

I really enjoyed my time on the boat and I honestly wish I could do it a few more times in the near future before I leave to go to college. I would like to thank all the official crew members that I worked with on the boat who kept such a positive attitude throughout the whole regatta and to those who were alongside me for the ride who, in a way, made me feel accepted as someone who isn’t super familiar with sailing big boats.

Thank you so much for the experience,
Sterling

 

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Race Log: GGYC Midwinters, Race 1

For the first time, both USA 76 and TOMCAT raced side by side in race 1 of the GGYC Midwinters.  The 44th Manuel Fagundes Seaweed Soup Regatta is first Saturday of every month from November 2014 to March 2015 hosted by the Golden Gate Yacht Club.  It was a strong opening to the series last weekend, with 65 registered boats.  A steady 10-15 knot breeze on the tail end of a rain storm the night before provided ideal conditions to keep a fast pace around the course.

It was a memorable moment for us as both USA 76 and TOMCAT crossed the start line together, taking off towards the first mark.  We were a close match for each other for TOMCAT is faster, but USA 76 can point much higher.  Our guests aboard both boats were placed into racing positions, playing an integral roll in getting us around the course.  Although we did not end up winning, it was still gratifying to have TOMCAT and USA 76 be the first two yachts to cross the finish line.

10273229_777675562280140_9135566235488930276_oPhoto credit: Jack Everett
10712408_777675595613470_1747708569563047253_oPhoto credit: Jack Everett
10700574_777675625613467_4242334212947666971_oPhoto credit: Jack Everett

TOMCAT

10700165_777675698946793_6883166855586258837_oPhoto credit: Jack Everett

Winter USA 76 Race Schedule: 2014/15

USA 76 is once again entering in the 44th annual Manuel Fagundes Seaweed Soup Regatta sponsored by the Golden Gate Yacht Club. Racing aboard the America’s Cup yacht USA 76 on San Francisco Bay is a remarkable experience that should not be missed! The Seaweeed Soup Regatta is a popular event on the San Francisco Bay racing calendar with more than 75 boats expected to participate. The regatta is a five race series occurring on the first Saturday of each month between November and March. Guest participation is encouraged during the races including driving the yacht and working the sail trim controls we call “coffee grinders.”  We hope you will join our crew for the races!

44th Manuel Fagundes Seaweed Soup Race Schedule – click a date below to make a reservation

Sat, December 6

Sat, January 3

Sat, February 7

Sat, March 7

Approaching the start line.

Approaching the start line.

 

RYC 2014 Great Pumpkin Regatta

It’s that time of year again, to get in the fall spirit by sailing in the Richmond Yacht Club’s Great Pumpkin Regatta. The annual pursuit race is one of our favorite events of the year. A pursuit race has a staggered start, where slower boats start first and the fast ones start last. This allows everyone to arrive at the finish line more or less at the same time. It’s quite a sight.

USA 76 will be amongst the last to start, and will fly around the course catching up to (and passing) the other boats who will be racing full circle around Angel Island and Alcatraz in either direction. So mark your calendars and secure your place on the crew — Sunday, October 26th!

Though we won’t be doing this…

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We will be doing this!

sailor-spotlight

Race Log: Friday Night Beer Can Series, Race 4

Friday the 13th and the full moon were in full effect for race four of the GGYC Friday night beer can series.  We were excited to get our Spectra mainsail back from the sail maker after some major alterations so the first thing we needed to do was get the batons back in the sail.  This sounded easy enough, batons go in the sail then baton pockets get tied shut.  Except for the fact that every baton ended up being too long.  So the pre-race setup started with Brad taking a hacksaw to the batons.  With the batons sorted we loaded up with our guest race crew and headed out to the race course.

Winds were fairly typical for a summer evening on San Francisco Bay with speeds ranging from 15-20 knots out of the West.  We  motored up the race course to a spot were we thought we could hoist the main.  As we tried to connect the clue to the boom we realized that the sail was too short and would not reach the end of the outhaul cylinder.  At this point we were about 30 minutes away from the start of the race so we kind of needed to get our sails up and head over to the start line.

The solution to a sail that was too short?  Move the outhaul cylinder that hadn’t been moved since training for the 2007 America’s Cup.  This involved two of us supporting the boom while Brad “convinced” the cylinder to come out of the track then back in where the clue of the sail could reach.  With the clue connected we began hoisting the main, which was going well until the last six feet when the bolt rope decided to come out of the track on the mast and get stuck.  15 minutes to the start. It took three of us to pull the main down until the bolt rope went back in the track and we could finish hoisting the main.  With the main up we had less than ten minutes until the start of the race and we were over by the North tower of the Golden Gate Bridge with the start line off GGYC.  We reached as fast as we could across the bay, hoisting the jib along the way, to get to the start line about a minute after the starting gun.

We had a great position off the start all things considered and quickly passed the rest of the fleet to reach the first windward mark well ahead of the fleet.  It was on the down wind leg that we realized we could not find the next mark.  Our expert navigator assured us that it was on the sailing instructions and therefore must exist.  We were quickly approaching the spot where the leeward mark should be when our expert navigator radioed the GGYC race committee for clarification about this invisible mark.  The GGYC confirmed that the mark was, in fact, where it should be and had been so for the past million years.  The mark in question was Alcatraz.  It was then that USA 76 did the fastest jybe she has done since she was raced by Oracle.

We rounded Alcatraz well in first place and picked our lane to the finish line.  We crossed the finish line in 0:46:09, just over 20 minutes ahead of the second place boat.  This was enough of a lead that even with our rating of -78 we corrected out to first place with four minutes to spare.  Almost the entire crew joined us for well deserved drinks at the GGYC.  The “Cup” was a little smaller than it looked on TV, but it is the first trophy that the boat has won since being in the charter operation and proves she is still the race machine she was built to be.

Rob Horton – Crew

June 17, 2014

AC35: Moving On – By Brad Webb

Disappointed. That’s my pensive response to the news that AC35 will not be held in San Francisco. I appreciate that many view it as just another sporting event, but I was optimistic that the city and the team would build on the successes of the 34th America’s Cup.

I’m disappointed as a San Francisco business owner that there will not be another chance to showcase the Bay to enthusiastic sailing fans. I’m disappointed as an ORACLE Team USA member, having spent 13 years fighting to win and keep the Cup here, that some other venue will now inherit the show. I’m disappointed as a San Francisco resident, that this great event will pack up and leave this great city.

There are many who have directed their ire of hosting the regatta at Larry Ellison. It’s easy to target the top, and even easier with a narrow-minded view and no skin in the game. Painting the Cup as elitist ignores the spectrum of involvement it takes to put on the event, and many will miss the opportunities that hosting the AC provides. The legacy and enduring value it creates is profound, a walk down Thames St. Newport, RI. is testament to this. But one cycle isn’t enough, and so the potential for lasting impact is lost. Only those who understand the Cup will understand this. Most will never realize what they had, and the charlatans will enjoy an empty satisfaction.

Regardless, the Cup will survive. She is bigger than all of us. This is just a short chapter in her history and while those at the helm have a chance to steer, it’s not for long.  She has influenced many, and although sailing may not be widely followed, the America’s Cup has tested the limits of people and technology for 163 years. No other sport can make that claim.

After 20 years of involvement I’m not ashamed to admit that the America’s Cup has defined me. I spent half my life in pursuit of the planet’s oldest prize, and consider myself lucky for the career I’ve had. I still stare in awe when I’m standing next to the trophy, and think of the thousands who strived to win, and never got this close.

As the America’s Cup moves on, a host of fresh faces will be drawn to the event and enveloped in the experience. My only hope is that she is respected for the prize that she is, and embraced for the opportunities she provides.

 

Brad Webb

June 13, 2014

Race Log: Friday Night Beer Can Series, Race 1

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Last Friday night was the first race of the Golden Gate Yacht Club’s Summer Beer Can Series. We had an enthusiastic crew aboard for the sail that we suited up in foulies, and headed towards the start line in 20 knots of breeze and an ebbing current. Brad Webb took the helm as we performed a few practice maneuvers to evaluate the conditions. It was the upper wind limit for us, but we were able to stay in the race as long as we avoided jibing. All in one fleet, the boats crossed the start line, with USA 76 right in the mix. After we rounded the top mark the breeze settled down to a steady 15 knots. It was a windward, leeward course with two laps around. We rounded the bottom mark with a big grind to trim the sails in and roll through a tack with the help from our energetic crew on the grinding pedestals. We ended up finishing well ahead of the other boats, crossing the finish line with the blast of the gun. With corrected times, USA 76 ended up in the middle of the fleet. We’ll be at it again Friday May 16th.

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