The next time you are on the water, keep an eye out for the US Olympic Sailing Team! That’s right, the Facility for Advanced Sailing and Technology (FAST USA) has set up shop on Treasure Island. FAST USA is a partnership between US Sailing (the sport’s governing body), the St. Francis Sailing Foundation, and the Treasure Island Sailing Center (TISC). The program’s facilities were donated by our very own ORACLE TEAM USA. Olympians past, present, and future have flooded the Bay since May 2018.  

2017 image shows the containers donated to FAST USA from Oracle's America's Cup Team. (Leandro Spina)

2017 image shows the containers donated to FAST USA from Oracle’s America’s Cup Team. (Leandro Spina)

San Francisco is a historical home for sailors

San Francisco Bay has been a world-renowned sailing destination, helping to write the history of the sport for decades. Many professional sailors have found their beginnings in our cool waters. SF Bay’s consistent winds and constant tides provide a year-round challenge making it an obvious location for Olympic training. This facility is the first West Coast training facility for the US Olympic Sailing team.

“Having a home is so important,” says Malcolm Page, two-time Olympic gold medalist and Chief of US Olympic Sailing. “I think it’s a huge step forward for this country and for sailors who want to reach the top of the podium. I think it’s really going to set ourselves up. To think the L.A. Olympics are only 10 years away, it’s a great opportunity,” says Page who moved to the Bay Area to manage the facility.

The completed facility will be located on the shoreline of Clipper Cove nextdoor to the Treasure Island Sailing Center. The Cove provides a sheltered area for dingy and keelboat sailors alike. Already, TISC works hard to bring sailing to the Bay Area community all year long, successfully running their Set Sail Learn program that offers thousands of fourth-grade kids an opportunity to get out on the water.

New opportunities for Bay Area youth

“With the creation of FAST USA at TISC, we can offer high-level training opportunities for both Bay Area sailors and Olympic hopefuls that currently do not exist,” said Bill Kreysler, President of the St. Francis Sailing Foundation. “This facility will bridge existing gaps between youth, high school, collegiate, and high-performance sailing. FAST USA will be the first facility of its kind in the nation and we are thrilled to have US Sailing putting the wind at our back here in San Francisco. The seamless pathway we envision is a perfect fit for US Sailing’s joint goals of expanding sailing access on the west coast and winning Olympic medals.”

With the 2028 LA Olympics just 10 years away, this cutting-edge training facility will help increase the headcount and performance of the US Olympic Sailing team. We’ll hope for more medals as well!

Like any story, we have to start at the beginning. Before foiling monohulls, multihulls, spinnakers and carbon fiber. This story begins even before J-Class yachts made their debut in the yachting world and in a time where the crew positions included physically move ballast below-decks from one side of the hull to the other during tacks.  

"America" the schooner that won the very first America's Cup

1851 America’s Cup: The schooner ‘America’ as she appeared for the Royal Yacht Squadron regatta August 22nd, 1851. painting by W. G. Wood after a photograph by N. L. Stebbins

The inception of America’s Cup all started in Hoboken, New Jersey in 1851 with John Cox Stevens, the first-ever commodore of the New York Yacht Club. He didn’t know it at the time, but the 101ft schooner, America, he’d commissioned by Geroge Steers would lead to what has been called the world’s oldest sporting championship and a 167 year-long legacy of innovation, competition, and skill.

Stevens grew up the eldest son of a Revolutionary War veteran and steamboat pioneer in Jersey. After building a series of his own yachts, founding the New York Yacht Club, and introducing Cricket to America, Stephens had a thirst for something more. He gathered a 6-person syndicate to commission the building of a magnificent schooner to be a competitive Yankee thoroughbred in British waters.

The race around the Isle of Wight

1851 America's Cup: The lines plan of the American schooner 'America' drawn by George Steers. PICTURES OF YESTERYEAR - Managed by PPL PHOTO AGENCY - Copyright Reserved 1851 America's Cup: The lines plan of the American schooner 'America' drawn by George Steers. CREDIT: Bob Fisher Archive/PPL

1851 America’s Cup: The lines plan of the American schooner ‘America’ drawn by George Steers. CREDIT: Bob Fisher Archive/PPL

On August 22, 1851, a mere 4 months after her launch, America was set to race in Cowes against 15 of the finest yachts and skilled crews that the Royal Yacht Squadron could muster. She was a gamble and ahead of her time. She was built for speed and featured innovative, machine-woven, flat cut sails. Contrary to the rounded bows of the era, America’s bow was concave. The design offered the least resistance to the flow of the water over her bow. And they knew she was fast. On her journey across the Atlantic Ocean to Cowes, the crew recorded impressive 200+nautical mile days.

At the blast of the starting gun, 15 yachts took to the course, racing to defend Britain’s honor. It was a quick 54-nautical-mile race circumnavigating the Isle of Wight. The prize was the “Auld Mug” or the “£100 Cup”, a 27-inch cup made of 134 ounces of silver and worth £100. There were no handicaps and sources say a south-westerly wind prevailed, aided by a strengthening east-going tide. Bets were heavily in favor of Stevens’ Yankee schooner.

There is No Second Place

The "Auld Mug" or "£100 Cup" was renamed "America's Cup" in 1851.

The “Auld Mug” or “£100 Cup” was renamed “America’s Cup” in 1851.

Needless to say, America won the race coming in 8 minutes ahead of her closest competition, a 57 ft. cutter christened Aurora. Of the 15 yachts that started the race, only 5 crossed the finish line. Queen Victora who had come to watch the finish reportedly asked which boat was in second place. The famous reply was “Ah, Your Majesty, there is no second.”

The “Auld Mug” was claimed by the Yanks and renamed the “America’s Cup”. Shortly after her victory, Stevens sold America. However, the legacy of the yacht remained intact. In 1857, the challenge for America’s Cup was declared with the deed of gift. In 1970 the very first America’s Cup Challenge on American waters took place in Newport, Rhode Island.

What would follow is a 167-year-old championship that would birth some of the most innovative yachts and technologies in history. USA 76 would enter the scene in September 2004 as a Challenger in the 32nd America’s Cup the Malmö-Skåne Louis Vitton Cup.

Our Sources and more info about America’s Cup:

Wikipedia

Yachting World

Alcatraz “The Rock” Island in San Francisco Bay

Among the many famous sites that make San Francisco Bay a popular tourist destination, you will find Alcatraz Island. Otherwise known as “The Rock”,  the island juts out of the blue waters of the Bay, barren and sharp against the rolling California hills in the distance. As the turbulent and cold waters of the SF Bay splash on the rocky shore, it’s not hard to understand the appeal of secluding the nations most dangerous criminals on the small island. 

Alcatraz tours and Cruises on yacht USA 76

From Military Base to Island Prison

Juan Manuel de Ayala, a Spanish explorer was the first person to map the rugged Island in 1775, naming it La Isla de los Alcatraces or The Islands of the Pelicans due to the large population of birds that inhabited the land. 75 years later, the US military built a fortress that housed 100 cannons and the West Coast’s first operational lighthouse. After almost a century, the US Justice Department opened a maximum-security federal prison on July 1, 1934.

The prison housed the most disruptive inmates in very harsh conditions. At any given time, Alcatraz would host 260 to 275 prisoners with approximately 1 guard to every three prisoners.

Famous Inmates at Alcatraz Island

During its 29 year reign, Alcatraz Federal Prison housed many infamous criminals.  Al “Scarface” Capone, murderer Robert “Birdman of Alcatraz” Stroud, and George “Machine Gun” Kelly all spent time at Alcatraz. Gangster Alvin “Creepy Karpis” Karpowicz, who was Public Enemy No 1 in the 1930s, also spent time in Alcatraz. 36 inmates attempted 14 escapes.  Twenty-nine of these escapee wannabes were killed or captured while attempting their getaway.  Of the prisoners that tried to swim to shore, two drowned and five went missing. Their bodies were never found. Officials presume they drowned fighting San Francisco Bay’s violent currents. The prison shut its doors in 1963 and became a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in 1972. The prison opened to the public in 1973.

Alcatraz Island Tours and Cruises

Today, Alcatraz remains a popular tourist attraction. Every year, millions of tourists visit San Francisco hoping to get an in-person view of “The Rock”. Annually, hundreds of people willingly participate in the “Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon” every June. This race includes a chilly swim from Alcatraz to Crissy Feild with chase boats for safety.

There are several ways to get a good view of this historical site. Book a Day or Express Sail past the island on USA 76 for a quick cruise if you are short on time. If you would like to tour Alcatraz by foot, book a day or a nighttime tour of the prison with Alcatraz Cruises. 

USA 76 sails past Alcatraz Island

One again a new year has started for USA 76 with a promise of fair winds and an active racing schedule.

The ACsailingSF crew are excited to share with you the experience of racing one of the fastest sailboats in the San Francisco Bay. Join us on one or all of our races listed below and become a part of USA 76 race team where you will have the opportunity to drive the yacht, work “coffee grinders” which trims the sails, and, be a part of the crew.

 

-Click on a date below to make a reservation-

 

Golden Gate Yacht Club Manuel Fagundes Seaweed Soup

 

Saturday, March 5

Saturday, November 5th

Saturday, December 3rd

 

Richmond Yacht Club Big Daddy:

 

Saturday, March 13th

 

South Beach Yacht Club Friday Night Series:

 

Friday, April 15th

Friday, April 22nd

Friday, April 29th

Friday, May 6th

Friday, May 20th

Friday, May 27th

Friday, June 3rd

Friday, June 17th

Friday, June 24th

Friday, July 15th

Friday, July 22nd

Friday, July 29th

Friday, August 5

Friday, August 19th

Friday, August 26th

 

Richmond Yacht Club Great Pumpkin:

Sunday, October 30th

OME137-Version-2

 

We are happy to have hosted Omega Watches aboard USA 76 once again to sail with us on San Francisco Bay for a team building event.

Omega sailed back to back yesterday in two attempts to top our SF Bay Challenge leaderboard.  The timed race event was a special outing for Omega ambassadors to enjoy San Francisco Bay while focusing on teamwork.  Success is only achievable if the group performs as a whole with effective communication on board the yacht.  This requires stepping outside of one’s comfort zone and learning through active participation.  Very few of our sailors had any prior experience in yacht racing, but were able to immerse themselves and learn with the tools and advise the ACsailingSF team provided.  Both the morning and afternoon groups were successful in achieving fast times while sailing on the America’s Cup race course here in San Francisco.

Have a group that wants to take the team building Challenge?
Call: Warren Allan (619) 630-6383
Email: Warren@ACsailingSF.com

We’ve been having a great start to our summer sailing season here on San Francisco Bay.  Some of our highlights as of recently:

Racing

We’re more than half way through the summer series — the South Beach Yacht Club’s Friday night beer can racing.  USA 76 has lined up with local racers for pleasant evenings racing the course down by the SF Giant’s Stadium (we even managed tv footage a couple times!).  All of our guests aboard have helped race USA 76 with great enthusiasm, making for very memorable races.

4th of July Celebration

USA 76 was amongst the festivities once again this year.  The fireworks sail is amongst our most popular events of the year.  We sailed under the Golden Gate Bridge as the sun was setting, then dropped sails and enjoyed a very up-close viewing of San Francisco’s fireworks show from the water.  The 4th also marked the 13th birthday of 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

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.

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.

 

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

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