Guests on carbon fiber America's Cup Yacht
Our favorite summer activity in San Francisco – sailing!

A world-renowned venue, San Francisco Bay is home to hundreds of sailing events every year. While the winter months are known for light winds and mild sailing, the summer heats up with consistent sailing conditions and winds reaching 25-35 knots daily. The best seats on the Bay for any of these boating events are, of course, on the water. You can count on USA 76 and her crew on being out there.

Manuel Fagundes Seaweed Soup Regatta

1st Saturday, November – March

This regatta kicks off the “mid-winter” sailboat racing season on San Francisco Bay. For the 49th year running, the Golden Gate Yacht Club hosts one race of the series on the first Saturday of every month from November through March. These races range from low to high winds and call for a hot chocolate at Ghirardelli Square after an often, cool-weather race. Get Your tickets for the last three races of the 2020 Seaweed Soup Regatta on our book now page.

Three Bridge Fiasco

January 26th

Sailboats competing in the Three Bridge Fiasco
Racers approach the Bay Bridge during the Three Bridge Fiasco

This annual race is organized by the Single Handed Sailing Society and hosted at St. Francic Yacht Club. Racers can navigate this 21 nautical mile race in any direction. Still, they must round markers close to each of the Bay Area’s significant bridges – The Golden Gate Bridge, The Bay Bridge, and the Richmond-San Rafel Bridge. In 2019, 230 yachts were registered. Best viewing of the start (usually a fiasco) is from the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marina Green, and of course, on the water.

Opening Day on the Bay

April 26th

This annual celebration marks the start of the boating season in the Bay Area. 2020 marks the 103rd year of the event. Get out on the water to see the boat parade as well as some of the classic and wooden boats that frequent the Bay’s waters.  

SailGP

May 2nd & 3rd

SailGP China in front of San Francisco Skyline
SailGP China speeds by the USA 76

SailGP returns to San Francisco for the second season. These fast and furious yachts will be screaming across San Francisco Bay, above the water, foiling for first place. USA 76 will be sailing on both of the race days, and the practice days leading up to the event to give guests an up-close view. Visit SailGP to learn more. 

The Master Mariners Annual Regatta.

May 23rd

This exquisite event is hosted by the Master Mariners Benevolent Association, a San Francisco yacht club that dates back to 1867. You won’t want to miss these classic, wooden yachts of all shapes and sizes as they sail gracefully across the Bay.

South Beach Yacht Club Summer Beer Can Series

Fridays, April – August

This series takes place on Friday Nights and is hosted by the yacht club located next to Oracle Park (a.k.a. the baseball stadium). While the “beer can” title implies a festive atmosphere, these races are fast and thrilling – and no one is drinking beer. USA 76 joins other Bay Area racing yachts at the start line and competes for line honors every Friday during the summer. With a dramatic San Francisco skyline as a backdrop and cheering from the stadium, guests get a feeling of what it was like to race USA 76 during her America’s Cup days. Join the other competitors at the yacht club after the race for a BBQ and awards ceremony.

Fourth of July

July 4th

Fireworks over San Francisco
Fourth of July Boating in San Francisco. Photo from the National Parks Service.

Celebrate the Nation’s founding aboard USA76. From our vantage point in the central part of the Bay, you’ll see the annual fireworks show from San Francisco, Sausalito, Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda – that is, if Karl the Fog doesn’t decide to crash the party. 

Rolex Big Boat Series

September 17th – 20th

Sailboats racing under Golden Gate Bridge
Sailboats racing under the Golden Gate Bridge

Hosted by the prestigious St. Francis Yacht Club and dating back to 1964, the Rolex Big Boat Series draws sailing talent from all over the world. Dubbed the West Coast’s premier big boat race, you’ll see over 150 yachts from all over the country take to the Bay vying for bragging rights and the Rolex that accompanies 1st place.

San Francisco Fleet Week

October 4-13, 2020

Zumwalt Warship in at Pier 39
The U.S. Navy Stealth Warship “Zumwalt” at Pier 39 for SF Fleet Week

A week-long celebration of military appreciation, SF Fleet Week is one of the most significant maritime events in the country. Born in 1935 the event allows civilians to tour US warcraft and buy sailors a burger in thanks for their service. The highlight of the event is an Air Show over the Bay that showcases the talents of veteran and civilian performance pilots. Watch as they soar and swoop over the Golden Gate Bridge, along the City Front, and all across the Bay.  

Great Pumpkin Regatta

October 31st & November 1st

Hosted by the Richmond Yacht Club, the Great Pumpkin is one of our favorite races of the year. Sailors from all over the Bay Area dress up to compete for first place and bragging rights. Before the start of the race, organizers pitch pumpkins into the Bay. Any competitor who picks one up along the racecourse is entitled to a few minutes off their overall time. This means the difference between first and last place could be a few waterlogged pumpkins!

Check out our 2020 sailing calendar to book the event you want to attend this year!

Giving Tuesday is on December 3rd this year! It can be overwhelming to choose just one organization to donate to. So, we’ve put together a list of a few of our favorite global and local nautical nonprofits to guide you.

Worldwide Nautical Nonprofits

Ocean Conservancy

This ocean centered organization usees science and the help of their community to protect and clean up the world’s oceans. One of the organizers behind September’s worldwide beach cleanup efforts, the Ocean Conservancy has likely impacted an ocean near you. Learn more about their work in the video below. 

Magenta Project 

The Magenta Project is a collective of passionate sailors committed to creating equal access and opportunities for women in sailing. Inspired by Team SCA, the only all-female team to enter and the 2014-2015 Volvo Ocean Race, The Magenta Project took shape. Working with sailing organizations worldwide, the organization works to upskill and advise female sailors to reach the top of the sport. 

World Sailing Trust 

Dedicated to supporting sailing in all of its forms, this is a new, global charity. From supporting access and participation, helping youth programs grow, and even safeguarding our waters for future generations of sailors, the World Sailing Trust is an integral part of the global sailing community. 

Sailing is for everyone, whatever their gender, capacity, wealth, age, or nationality. We believe that sailing as a sport benefits when a diverse range of people are able to participate, and we know that the opportunity to sail benefits individuals too.”

– World Sailing Trust

Maiden Factor Foundation 

Launched by sailor Tracey Edwards, the Maiden Factor Foundation aims to raise awareness for girls’ education worldwide. The story of Maiden begins when Edwards put together the first all-female crew to compete in the 1989-1990 Whitebread Round the World Race. After a harrowing 6+ months at sea, Team Maiden finished in 2nd place overall in their class. They wowed all of their naysayers and still hold a title no British competitor has beaten to this day! Today, the yacht is making another world tour. With 28+ stopovers in various countries, Maiden Factor will raise awareness and funds for education for girls worldwide. 

San Francisco Bay Nautical Nonprofits

Treasure Island Sailing Center

One of our local sailing youth centers, TISC, has served both youth and adult sailors since 2013. In 2019, the sailing center served 3,100 individuals across all of its programs. TISC never turns away youth sailing participants. With an unlimited number of sailing scholarships, thousands of children get to experience the thrill of sailing annually. Learn more about TISC in the video below.

Blue Water Sailing Foundation

Based out of San Francisco, this nonprofit dedicates it’s efforts to providing at-risk and under-represented young people an opportunity to sail. Participants in the program get the chance to experience new activities, teaching, and leadership. Since 1992, The Blue Water Foundation has served over 25,000 individuals by working with public and charter schools, probation departments, and local police forces.

Spaulding Marine Center

This nonprofit is dedicated to preserving, sharing, and celebrating the Bay Area’s maritime history. Through youth programs focused on woodworking, boatbuilding and restoration efforts for adults, and wooden boat sailing experience for everyone, this Marine Center is essential to the sailing community in Sausalito and beyond.

St. Francis Sailing Foundation

Our very own Brad Webb is on the board of this organization. Founded by the elite St. Francis Yacht Club, this foundation was created to encourage, promote, and enhance the sport of sailing. Their programs support young sailors just beginning their sailing careers, competitive sailors as they advance, and elite sailors seeking world-class competition. The foundation supports youth programs focused on underserved and differently-abled individuals in the local community.

In one word, racing an America’s Cup yacht is Thrilling. In two, it’s Really fast! And in four words, it’s Once in a lifetime or A bucket list item

Formula One Sailing Yachts are Fast Yachts

Racing on an America’s Cup yacht is akin to Formula One car racing. Both sports involve high-powered vehicles, advanced technologies, high speeds, incredible precision, and international fame.

Through the years, America’s Cup yachts have evolved from wooden schooners (a.k.a. America, the very first “defender” of the trophy) and foiling multihulls to foiling monohulls (the boats to be raced in the 2021 America’s Cup Regatta in Auckland, New Zealand). Each reigning defender of the “Auld Mug” is entitled to defining the materials and technologies that can be used for each yacht to compete for the next America’s Cup Regatta. Due to this evolution, racing an America’s Cup varies from generation to generation.

International America’s Cup Challenger Class Yachts

USA 76 is an International America’s Cup Challenger (IACC) class yacht. There were 101 IACC yachts built over seventeen years and used as trial and race boats for the 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st, 32nd America’s Cup regattas. The very first IACC yacht was an Italian trial yacht, ITA 1, built in March of 1990. Built in 2001, USA 76 was the 76th IACC hull produced. The BMW ORACLE Racing team used her in the 2002-2003 Louis Vuitton Cup in New Zealand.

A Carbon Fiber Boat Built for Speed

Several unique features of the IACC Class set them apart from typical race yachts of their time. These same features also set the class apart from race yachts seen on the water today. USA 76’s carbon fiber construction, large sail area, and the ability to sail within 25° off the True wind make her an incredible ride. 

One of the first things most passengers notice upon stepping aboard USA 76, is the height of her mast. Towering 115 ft above the deck of the boat, and high above Pier 39, she boasts four sets of spreaders and titanium shrouds. Her current sail area totals 2,800 sq ft. To maximize power and speed. She also needs this “horsepower” to pull the hull through the water. 

 From the waterline up, USA 76 weights 10,000 lbs. From the waterline down, she weighs 40,000 lbs. Attached to a fin keel in the shape of a torpedo, the keel is solid lead. This weight helps to stabilize the yacht while going through the water. It also offsets her incredible sail area. 

USA 76 is maximized for speed! With the bulk of the yacht constructed of carbon fiber – even the steering wheels – she’s feather-light. Her narrow bow is concave and the hull-to-deck joint is rounded to allow airflow. In the original design, her keel was canting, and hydraulics powered many of the boat’s systems. At the height of her racing career, all of these features were top of the line and new technologies.

Sailboat racing on San Francisco 

Friday Night Racing at South Beach Yacht Club

All of these features combined make racing this America’s Cup yacht an incredible experience! She glides through the water in light and strong winds providing sure and stable footing for passengers. Upwind, she sees nine knots of boat speed at 25° off the true wind. She sails at 19° off the apparent wind and can sail in a line nearly direct to her destination. As the boat powers up, she settles into a 27° heel angle, and you may find yourself firmly holding onto the stainless steel life rails for balance. Top speeds going downwind are around 15 knots and the deck will flatten out.

On a mild to very windy day, USA 76 accelerates across the San Francisco Bay in no time. With Captain Jon or Captain Pete at the helm, we’ll zip around the course beside other San Francisco racers, all competing for First Place.

Do you want to experience racing on America’s Cup Yacht USA 76? In the fall and winter, we compete in the Golden Gate mid-winter regattas. In the summer, we race in the South Beach Yacht Club’s Friday night beer can series. Take a look at our calendar, and be sure to book your tickets asap. Race days fill up quick!

Blue Angels doing stunts over golden gate bridge.

Friday Oct 11, 2019 Schedule:

Parade of Ships – Rapel Demo – 11:00 AM

National Anthem – Flag Jump – 12:30 PM

US Navy Parachute Team – 12:36 PM

United Airlines – 12:45 PM

USCG C-27 / MH-65 Demo – 12:57 PM

National Guard – HH-60- Bucket Passes – 1:07 PM

Sean Tucker – Challenger III – 1:13 PM

JBLM-McChord Field – C-17 Passes – 1:19 PM

Greg Colyer – Ace Maker – T-33 – 1:29 PM

P-3 / P-8 Demo – 1:42 PM

Mike Wiskus – Lucas Oil Pitts – 1:52 PM

Capt Andrew Olson – F-35 Demo – 2:04 PM

F-35 / P-51 Warbird – Heritage Flight – 2:22 PM

Sean Tucker / Jessy Panzer – Oracle Demo – 2:33 PM

United Airlines – 2:48 PM

Blue Angels Team – 3:00 PM

*Schedule subject to change at any time*

Saturday / Sunday Oct 12-13, 2019 Schedule:

National Anthem – Flag Jump – 12:04 PM

US Navy Parachute Team – 12:10 PM

United Airlines – 12:19 PM

USCG C-27 / MH-65 Demo – 12:31 PM

National Guard – HH-60- Bucket Passes – 12:41 PM

Sean Tucker – Challenger III – 12:47 PM

JBLM-McChord Field – C-17 Passes – 12:53 PM

Greg Colyer – Ace Maker – T-33 – 1:03 PM

US Navy P-3 / P-8 Demo – 1:16 PM

Patriots Jet Team – 1:26 PM

Mike Wiskus – Lucas Oil Pitts – 1:52 PM

Capt Andrew Olson – F-35 Demo – 2:04 PM

F-35 / P-51 – Heritage Flight – 2:22 PM

Sean Tucker / Jessy Panzer – Oracle Demo – 2:33 PM

United Airlines – 2:48 PM

Blue Angels Team – 3:00 PM

*Schedule subject to change at any time*

San Francisco Fleet Week is a legendary event attracting more than one million people to the San Francisco waterfront annually. Fleet Week runs for a full seven days and concludes with a breathtaking Air Show featuring daring stunts by world-renowned pilots. Presented by United and produced by the Air Show Network, a choreographed air show with ten aerobatic performers will buzz across the San Franciso sky on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday during SFFW. Below you will find descriptions of each act for the 2019 SFFW.

U.S. Navy Blue Angels

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are the second oldest formal aerobatic team in the world. Founded in 1946, the Blue Angels are made up of five Navy demonstration pilots and one Marine Corps demonstration pilot. The famed performance features daring acts that showcase the skills of the pilots. Many of the same skilled maneuvers performed in 1946 are used in the routine today. Stunts such as the Diamond 360, Diamond Dirty Loop, Sneak Pass (reaching speeds of 700 mph!), and the Double Farvel are sure to impress. Roughly 11 million spectators view the Blue Angels during air shows from March through November every year.

United Boeing 777-300ER

Part of the United fleet, and one of Boeing’s newest aircraft, the Boeing 777-300ER is the world’s largest twin-engine jetliner. The “Tripple Seven” has a capacity of 400 passengers and a range of 5,000-8,500 nautical miles. During San Francisco’s Fleet Week, the jet performs a “low pass” over the waterfront of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge.

F-35 Demo Team

The U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II. The F-35 is a single-seat, single-engine, all-weather stealth fighter jet that is operational in the U.S. Department of Defense. This jet has advanced stealth, exceptional agility, and maneuverability, with sensor and information fusion. 

The Patriots Jet Team

The Patriots Jet Team is the largest civilian-owned aerobatic jet team in the western hemisphere. Founded in 2002, and the team features former pilots who were a part of the Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels

Team Oracle, Sean D. Tucker, and Jessy Panzer

Sponsored by Oracle, Sean D. Tucker and Jessy Panzer will perform breath-taking aerobatics above the San Francisco Bay. Tucker is an esteemed performance pilot who has taken to the skies since 1976. Jessy Panzer has been performance flying since 2005 and is the only civilian female formation airshow pilot in the United States. 

Lucas Oil, Mike Wiskus

Flying for Lucas Oil, Mike Wiskus will be defying gravity during the 2019 lineup of the SFFW Air Show. Wiskus earned his pilot’s license when he was 17 and has accumulated over 25,000 flight hours. Wiskus will be flying the “Super Stinker” a PITTS S – 1 -11B.

U.S. Navy Parachute Team, The Leap Frogs 

The U.S. Navy’s Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, is made up of active-duty Navy SEALS and Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen (SWCC). The Leap Frogs’ performance consists of six jumpers who free fall from an aircraft at an altitude of 6,000 feet before deploying parachutes.

Air National Guard C-130

The Air National Guard will coordinate a flight over the Bay in the C-130. The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is an American four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft.

P-8 Poseidon and P-3 Orion

The P-8A Poseidon (P-8A) is the U.S. Navy’s multi-mission maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft. The P-8A efficiently conducts anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and humanitarian response. 

Source: https://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=1100&tid=1300&ct=1

The P-3 Orion is a peerless airborne hunter. Its reputation as the ultimate maritime patrol aircraft has been through more than 50 years of service. It’s known as the guardian of the seas.

Source: https://www.lockheedmartin.com/en-us/products/p-3.html

US Coast Guard Search and Rescue Demo

United States Coast Guard will demonstrate a simulated Search and Rescue (SAR) mission with its MH-65D helicopter. The H-65 helicopter — the Coast Guard’s most ubiquitous aircraft — is certified for operation in all-weather and night-time operations.

To see the Air Show Schedule, visit the San Francisco Fleet Week website or download the app. To see Day Sail availability on USA 76, visit our booking page.

It’s that time of year- time for San Francisco Fleet Week! The Bay will be full of ships of all sizes, while the sky will be busy with the most talented performance pilots in the world. A whole week of airshows and U.S. Navy ship tours makes for a busy time for the crew of USA 76. We will be sailing on the Bay all weekend long. Look for us on the water as we join in the Fleet Week celebrations. We’ll start our observations of San Francisco Fleet Week off with a brief history of Fleet week and how it came to San Francisco.

What is Fleet Week?

Fleet Week is a U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard tradition that invites active military ships to dock in major US cities for one week. While docked, the ship’s crews enjoy city life, and civilians tour select ships. Military demonstrations and air shows from world-renowned performance pilots like the Blue Angels accompany Fleet Week events.

Fleet Week was born in 1935 in the years between WWI and WWII. With military presence growing worldwide, President Franklin D. Roosevelt conceived Fleet Week, to showcase the United States military fleet. The first event was in conjunction with the California Pacific International Exposition in San Diego. The event was a massive success with 114 warships, 400 military planes, and more than 3,000 commissioned officers and 55,000 enlisted men.

Since the inaugural Fleet Week, ten cities across America have adopted the tradition as a stand-alone event or addition to maritime festivals.

San Francisco Fleet Week (SFFW)

Fleet Week came to San Francisco in 1981 with the then-mayor, Dianne Feinstein. The Mission of the San Francisco Fleet Week is to honor the contributions of the men and women of the United Staes Armed Forces. It is a public event that aims to advance knowledge among civilian- and military-based Humanitarian Assistance personnel. The SFFW takes place on the Marina Green and the central portion of the San Francisco Bay. Festivities coincide with Italian Heritage Month and celebrate San Francisco’s maritime history that has influenced local culture.

Highlights of the SFFW include public tours of select active military ships and a fully choreographed air show featuring the U.S. Navy Blue Angels. Visit the SFFW website for more details on additional events taking place during the week, such as free concerts, the Parade of Ships, and the Veterans Art Exhibit.

For more information about San Francisco Fleet Week, visit the event website or download the app.

For a schedule of open public tours aboard USA 76 for the 2019 Fleet Week, visit our booking page.

Think you know everything about International America’s Cup Competitor (IACC) USA 76? Think again! Here are 11 facts that you might not have known about our favorite IACC yacht on San Francisco Bay!

Photo credit: Pat Lopez

1. There are five retired America’s Cup yachts available for charter in the world – USA 76 is one of them. You can find “Stars & Stripes 87” in the Caribbean and “Stars & Stripes (S1)” in Key Largo. You can also find replicas of the schooner that started it all, “America” in Key West, New York, and San Diego. While unavailable for charter, J-class competitor “Shamrock V” is currently for sale for a mere $6M.2.

2. USA 76 weighs approximately 50,000 lbs. Everything from the waterline up weighs about 10,000 lbs and made of carbon-fiber, titanium, and stainless steel. Made of carbon fiber and lead, everything below the waterline weighs 40,000 lbs.

3. “76” is not indicative of the yacht’s length. It’s her hull number. There were 101 IACC yachts made from 1990 to 2007, and USA 76 was the 76th hull.

4. Speaking of length, USA 76’s length overall is 84 ft. Her draft is 14 ft. and her beam is 12 ft. Her mast is 115 ft. tall. She’s very narrow for a yacht of her length and height.

5. The current sail area of USA 76 is roughly 2,800 sq. ft. Due to our 2008 refit, we reduce the sail area of each mainsail integrated into our wardrobe every year by removing the roach.

6. Initially, she had 3,500 sq. ft. of sail for upwind racing (mainsail and jib) and 8,000 sq. ft. of sail area for downwind racing (main, jib and spinnaker).

7. Each mainsail that USA 76 raced with cost $100,000. Originally the yacht raced with 35 mainsails in her wardrobe – that doesn’t include her many jibs and spinnakers.

8. Built-in 2002, USA 76 cost $5 million, not including the cost of her sail wardrobe.

9. The optimal heel angel for USA 76 is 27º. When the yacht is heeled properly, a slanted “stair” at the helm becomes level. This angle optimizes the waterline.

10. USA 76 can sail 25º off the true wind and 19º off the apparent wind. Few yachts worldwide can sail this close to the true wind angle.

11. Her maximum speed going close-hauled is 11+ knots. Going downwind, she reached approximately 22 knots.

12. USA 76 was built for speed. There are no right angles on the body of the yacht to promote airflow. The bow has concave sides and a curved top deck to ensure the surface doesn’t inhibit airflow.

13. Originally, USA 76 sailed with 17 individual crew members and an “18th man”. Each crew member had a specific job – grinder, tactician, spotter, bowman, helmsman, etc. – and they were an expert in their role. The “18th man” was a guest role and usually filled by a celebrity or primary sponsor.

USA 76 is Retired in Valencia, Spain

USA 76 was retired after competing in the Louis Vuitton Acts of 2006. Her fate was undecided and the yacht was stored in a yard in Valencia.  To replace her, BMW Oracle Racing debuted USA 87 – the IACC yacht that would go on to compete in the remaining Louis Vuitton Cup Acts.

Four years later, in 2010, the America’s Cup returned to the Spanish sea-side city. This time the defender and challenger would race on a catamaran and trimaran. BMW Oracle Racing successfully challenged Alinghi claiming the “Auld Mug” as it’s own. The trophy and the regatta would return to the United States for the 34th America’s Cup. USA 17, the victorious 90ft trimaran, would return to the United States too to be commemorated at Oracle headquarters in Redwood City, California.

ACsailingSF is born in San Francisco

Meanwhile, Brad and Karen Webb, the owners and founders of ACsailingSF, dreamt of sharing an authentic America’s Cup sailing experience with the public. With more than a decade of sailing in America’s Cup campaigns and the former bowman on USA 76, Brad Webb knew exactly what boat would make this dream a reality – it was in a boatyard in Valencia.

USA 76 was sitting unused, a shadow of her former glory, but Webb knew she was the sailboat to introduce the public to high-caliber yacht racing. With modifications, the yacht could hold up to twenty guests with five crew. San Francisco Bay, where the Webbs were based, was the prime location to showcase the yacht’s magnificence. The Webbs bought the yacht and USA 76 joined the caravan back to the United States. She was loaded into a container and shipped back to her home port alongside USA 17.

Before taking to the cool waters of San Francisco with paying passengers on board, the carbon fiber yacht had to undergo rigorous modifications. With passenger safety in mind and the goal of obtaining the USCG Certificate of Inspection (COI), USA 76’s new “shore crew” went straight to work when the yacht arrived in Oakland, California. A crew of professional yacht builders, engineers, and riggers who had experience working on high powered yachts facilitated all of the modifications at KKMI boatyard.

Modifications to USA 76

  • Life rails on cockpit combing – The stainless steel life rails give guests something strong and secure to hold onto when the yacht heels over. During the America’s Cup Races and Louis Vuitton Cup, racers would sit on the cockpit deck. There was no hiking and there were no lifelines.
  • Thru-hulls – In order to meet COI regulations, an engine and bilge pumps would need to be installed. Thus, thru-hulls had to be fitted in the carbon fiber hull.
  • Saildrive – A saildrive was installed along with the thru-hulls and the engine.
  • Engine – IACC yachts didn’t have engines. They were towed to and from the racing areas. To be COI compliant, USA 76 needed an engine. The brand new 75HP beast had to be hoisted into the yacht with a crane.
  • Bulkheads – Originally, there were no bulkheads in the hull of USA 76. Three were installed to divide the hull into four sections. This isolated the engine and created an “engine room”.
  • Keel bulb modifications – With the addition of the bulkheads, life rails, and engine, USA 76 would need modifications in the lead bulb at the bottom of her keel to help unload the rig and redistribute weight. More than 2.5 tons of lead were removed from the bulb with a chainsaw. The crew had to replace the chainsaw blade three times in order to complete the job.
  • Branding – Last but not least, “USA 76” would replace the “ORACLE” branding that had adorned her hull in the past.

USA 76 refit at KKMI

Launching an America’s Cup Experience to the Public

In early 2011, the modified yacht was launched (sans the rig) and the waterline was re-measured. After a brief shakedown to ensure there were no leaks or issues with the engine and other modifications, the mast was stepped, the boat was rigged and the bottom painted.

At long last, 11 months after the inception of ACsailingSF, it was time for the moment of truth. USA76 was inspected by the USCG and deemed seaworthy for up to 20 passengers and 5 crew. The COI was obtained. Success! USA 76 would sail once again – bringing the thrill of America’s Cup sailing to sailing enthusiasts from around the world.

Summer in the City by the Bay

Summer is here! In San Francisco, that means Karl the Fog is back and with it, steady winds and sailing. Thousands of tourists from all over the world vacation in the “City by the Bay” to enjoy breathtaking sights, incredible food, and learn about our rich history.  San Francisco Bay is a world-renowned sailing destination and you should definitely find time to get out on the water during your stay. Like any metropolis, there are tons of exciting attractions and landmarks to visit but the best views of the city are from a boat. To make your sightseeing decisions easy, here is a list of crew-approved, water-based activities that will delight everyone in the family.

Sail an America’s Cup yacht

1. Go Sailing in San Francisco

Hop aboard USA 76! Of course, we are a bit bias here but don’t miss sailing on USA 76. ACsailingSF offers one of the most unique sailing experiences in the world aboard a retired America’s Cup racing yacht. Step aboard this carbon fiber yacht and take on the same tasks that the professional sailors did when the yacht raced in New Zealand during the 2003 America’s Cup. After hoisting the behemoth sails, you’ll have the chance to take the helm and steer the yacht along the city front and under the Golden Gate Bridge. We offer many public trips to suit busy sightseeing schedules including morning, afternoon, and sunset sails. Take a look at our ticketed trips page to reserve your spot.

2. Visit Alcatraz Island

Visit Alcatraz Island. Otherwise known as “The Rock”, this former prison is one of the most popular landmarks in the Bay Area. The island was discovered by Spanish Explorers in 1775, by 1850 the US military used it to house cannons and in 1934, it was turned into a maximum-security prison. Amongst its many infamous prisoners were Al “Scarface” Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelly, and Public Enemy No 1. Alvin “Creepy Karpis” Karpowicz. Sure, the only way on and off the island is by ferry-boat, but a tour of the island prison is well worth the trek to get there. Get your Alcatraz Tickets here.  

USA 76 carbon fiber yacht in San Francisco in from of Alcatraz
Visit Alcatraz Island

3. Visit Sausalito, Tiburon, and Oakland by Sailboat

Explore the Bay by luxury sailboat. There are plenty of small and medium-sized sailboats available for charter for intimate groups from 2-20 people. Ask your captain to visit a local dock and dine restaurants like Sam’s Cafe in Tiburon or The Trident in Sausalito. Docking or mooring at Angel Island is also a popular day trip. One of our favorite private charter boats is Fine Day for Sailing. Captain Heather Richard is a former crew member on USA 76 and knows the Bay very well.

4. Take a Scenic Ferry Ride

Take a Ferry Ride. If you plan to visit Sausalito, Tiburon or Angel Island, a ferry ride to or from your destination is the way to go. The SF to Sausalito ferry was voted number 5 in Budget Travel’s Most Scenic Ferry Rides in 2009. With the Golden Gate Bridge stretching out on one side of the boat and the city front sprawling out on the other, you’ll agree. Visit Golden Gate Transit to check the schedule and plan your trip.

Take a ferry to Sausalito and Tiburon.

5. Visit the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39

Visit the Aquarium of the Bay at Pier 39. Did you know that the SF Bay approximately 50% saltwater and 50% freshwater? Did you know that sharks live in its murky waters? While more of an “in the water” attraction, the Aquarium of the Bay is a great activity for all ages. Amongst jellyfish and sea otter exhibits, this aquarium features all the creatures that live in the waters of the Bay Area. Tickets and hours are here.

6. Go Whale Watching in the Pacific Ocean

Go whale watching. During their annual migrations, grey whales, humpbacks and blue whales make a pit stop near the Gulf of the Farallones and the Golden Gate Straits. It’s not uncommon to see humpback whales breaching under the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco Whale Tours is our neighbor at the docks and provides daily trips offshore in search of cetacea activity. While offshore you’ll see other sea creatures like jellyfish, mola mola, harbor porpoises, sea lions, and a plethora of sea birds. Book your whale watching trip here and prepare for an oceanic adventure with Whale Girl, a local naturalist (she’s also crew on USA76).

Whale Watching in the Pacific Ocean. Photo by Whale Girl.

They’re here – SailGP’s F50s have arrived in San Francisco! On May 4th and 5th, sailing teams from the United States, Australia, United Kingdom, France, Japan, and China will compete in a high-stakes, high-speed competition aboard the World’s fastest sailboats.

This will be the first SailGP race to take place in the United States and the second event of the five-part championship. Official races will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 4th and 5th from 12 – 2 pm. Racing will take place on the water in front of the Yacht Club Peninsula of the San Francisco Bay.

SailGP teams Great Britain and Australia on San Francisco Bay
Photo Credit: Pressure Drop

The World Fastest Foiling Yachts

The F50s are the World’s fastest foiling catamarans. “F” stands for foiling. “50” indicates the length of the catamaran – 50 feet. But it’s not just the foiling and the size of these boats that is impressive. It’s how fast they will go. The F50 engineers predict the boats will break the”50-knot barrier” – the sailing world’s equivalent to the sound barrier.

The core components of the SailGP F50s were sourced from the catamarans sailed in the 2017 America’s Cup. Post racing in Bermuda, the AC50 hulls and wingsails were stripped. After 100,000 hours of work they were put back together and transformed into completely different boats. The new cats are incredibly light for their size. Each boat has two sets of interchangeable light-air and heavy-air foils, rudders, and wingsails, making them prone to foiling and top speeds in any wind condition.

Team USA Practicing on San Francisco Bay Photo Credit: Pressure Drop

The reorganization of the cockpit on the F50 also makes for a faster sailboat. Originally, the AC50s had two grinding pedestals (typically used for charging hydraulics and trimming sails). One of these pedestals has been replaced. In its place is a lithium-ion battery used to provide a 5-hour charge for the hydraulic systems on the yachts. The use of a computerized system makes frequent tacks and gybes possible, eliminating the time it takes for the crew to manually charge the hydraulics. All controls for the wingsail, foil, and rudder have been made more accessible too. Newly implemented foot pedals, twist grips on the steering wheel and even a joystick replace typical sailboat controls and can be adjusted with the lightest touch. Take a full tour of Team Australia’s cockpit with helmsman Tom Slingsby below.

One Design Yacht Racing Puts Traditional Sailing Skills to the Test

SailGP levels the playing field for each competing nation by computerizing many of the components involved in sailing the yacht. Each boat is identical bringing the skill of the sailors on the boat to the forefront of the sailing arena. Wind and water conditions, boat speed and other data are constantly streamed back to the shore team to analyze and compare during and after races. Each SailGP team is made up of approximately 100 people with 5 core crew – professional sailors. The AC50s were allowed 6 professional sailors onboard during races. More One-Design Rules for SailGP yachts include:

  • Length overall is 15 meters
  • Beam (width): 8.8 meters (including appendages)
  • Wing Height: currently 24 meters, evolving to an 18m heavy air wing and a 28m light air wing
  • Crew: 5, consisting of a helmsman, wing-trimmer, flight controller and two grinders
  • Crew weight limit: 438 kilograms (average of 87.5 kg per sailor)
  • Onboard cameras: 3
  • Onboard microphones: 3
SAILGP Team China on San Francisco Bay. Photo Credit: Pressure Drop

Will you be watching SailGP this weekend? Learn more about the F50 catamaran, competing nations and viewing options at SailGP.com.

Next Page »