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

What Happens to Retired America’s Cup Yachts?

Since design and innovation have always been two driving forces of the America’s Cup, the result is an assortment of one-off, specialized high-tech yachts. We can all relate to the enhanced speed of technology, where out-dated now means only a year or two (look at your cell phone for example). The same goes for America’s Cup yachts, which means the out-dated need to go somewhere…

The technological impact of the 2013 America’s Cup has trickled down to recreational water sports such as kite surfing. We are now seeing the frequent use of hydrofoils giving the art of flight a whole new meaning.  Ever-evolving equipment leaves many wanting, or needing the newest everything to be considered competitive, leaving behind the ‘old.’

America’s Cup yachts are the epitome of technological innovation whose purpose is to create and sail the fastest boats in the world.  Every Cup brings the design and construction of new boats by every team involved. The fate of retired America’s Cup yachts from years past is not always the same, for some get scrapped for parts, cut up and recycled, put on display or if they’re lucky… sailed. The high performance level of Cup boats make owning one for recreational use extremely impractical, leaving only a small handful that remain actively sailing by charter companies around the world. USA 76 is one of those lucky few.

As for the winning yacht of the 33rd America’s Cup from 2010, she has been elaborately put on display at the Oracle headquarters in Redwood City, California. The massive 90 foot trimaran USA 17, raced by Oracle Team USA, is now dramatically elevated and heeled over in the middle of the campus’ pond. This yacht-turned-sculpture is still in need of attention by knowledgable sailors and boat builders to ensure the safety and longevity of the installment.  ACsailingSF owner Brad Webb raced as bowman on USA 17, so it made sense for he and the ACsailingSF team to apply their expertise to maintain and look after USA 17 for years to come.

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

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

Race Log: Great Pumpkin Regatta 2014

Sunday, October 26th marked USA 76’s third consecutive year participating in the Richmond Yacht Club’s Great Pumpkin Regatta.  Over 100 boats raced on that beautiful Sunday afternoon on San Francisco Bay.

The conditions were a bit unusual with a light breeze of 5-10 knots out of the north as we started, which then switched to the prevailing westerly in the later portion of the race.  Our start was over an hour after the first boats, which allowed us to evaluate the conditions along with the strategy of the majority of the fleet.  Most of the boats chose to use the northerly to their advantage by sailing out towards Alcatraz first, setting spinnakers for a fast first downwind leg.

We chose to follow suit by choosing to sail USA 76 clockwise around the course, rounding Alcatraz then Angel Island.  We hoisted the code zero, our largest headsail, to ensure we use the most sail area possible to catch up to the boats that began before us.  The northerly breeze got progressively lighter as is began to switch to the west.  That called for a sail change for a quick upwind beat around Alcatraz, followed by an unfurl of the code zero for a reach towards Angel Island.  USA 76 caught up to the fleet near the mouth of Raccoon Straits.  It was an incredible sight sailing along with so many spinnakers.  We crossed the finish line along with many others, celebrating a fun afternoon spent racing around the Bay.  We couldn’t have raced without the enthusiastic participation from all of our guests aboard.  It is truly a team effort to sail USA 76.

USA 76 is entered into a handful of races throughout the year and next up is Race 1 of the Midwinter Series with the  Golden Gate Yacht Club — Saturday, November 1st.  So mark your calendars and experience sailing USA 76 around the marks!

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

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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USA 76 Sailor Spotlight

At the beginning of this month, ACsailingSF was delighted to host a special guest who traveled across the pond to visit our beautiful city, San Francisco. Yvonne Gordon is an award-winning features and travel writer whose work has been published in the Irish Times, The Irish Mail On Sunday, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The National, and DK Eyewitness Travel Guides. Coming from a sailing background, Yvonne also writes about her experiences and various trips through her blog, Holidays On The Water.

New to the San Francisco Bay Area, Yvonne knew little of what to expect. While she consistently sails on a bay in her hometown, the promise of steady wind conditions on the San Francisco Bay was a welcome and exciting change.

The 84-foot America’s Cup-class yacht docked at PIER 39 with the crew in their professional gear was a sight to behold. Stepping aboard, Yvonne was pleased to find USA 76 to be “a real racing boat..designed for speed and performance”, which added to her enthusiasm for the trip.

Throughout the two-and-a-half hour experience, Yvonne took turns at the helm, guiding USA 76 and her crew both on the upwind and downwind legs of the adventure. She even took command during a tack (direction change) underneath the Golden Gate Bridge!

Having spent only two days in the city, Yvonne was able to learn a local’s perspective of the city, highlighting the different boat types in the bay, the America’s Cup races from this past summer, and the different yacht clubs in the area. All in all, her favorite part of the adventure included sailing towards Alcatraz Island and cruising underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. She mentioned “it was amazing to see the city skyline and the waterfront, with all the wharfs from a different perspective on the water.”

Thanks for joining us, Yvonne! Come back for another sail soon!

Sailor Spotlight