SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — With the Louis Vuitton qualifying races upon us, the America’s Cup officially begins on the San Francisco Bay in just six weeks. The buildup for the race has had tragedy, controversy, high drama and clashing egos.
Event Authority CEO, Stephen Barclay spoke to us for this edition of In Depth, along with America’s Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray. Murray’s dual role includes being CEO of America’s Cup management as he is an accomplished sailor and has been in Olympic sailing competitions for decades.
“I think most of the controversy is behind us. We’ve got the racing underway. Sure we’d like to have every race being two boats, but tragedy occurred on May 9th and in some respects, we’re still working through that,” Barclay said.
Barclay was referring to Artemis, the team that lost British crewmember Andrew “Bart” Simpson.
Commenting on the wind, Murray said they were working to make this as safe as a race as they possibly can. “Never, ever on the water is it safe. The water and the San Francisco Bay is a treacherous place.”
Part of their job is to keep the “drivers” safe; making a sporting comparison to NASCAR, which also utilizes apparatus in racing.
Adding to the drama was the amount of teams involved. The number was originally eight challengers then a year ago that number dwindled to five and now there will only be three challengers in the race.
It was explained that the recession played a big role in this and that certain teams couldn’t raise the revenue for bigger boats.
“Iain handles all the stuff on the water and that’s why he’s sort of the neutral party in this. My job is everything on the land,” Barclay said, summing up their positions for clarity.
Many still don’t know what the difference is between the Louis Vuitton Cup and the actual America’s Cup is. Murray helped explain.
“The Luis Vuitton Cup is the process where the challengers race, practice, fine tune, seed themselves and then eliminate to get down to a single challenger to come up against a defender in the America’s Cup,” Murray said.
As far as watching the race goes, you’ll have plenty of options and they all seem to be pretty innovative. This is the first time you can actually watch the race from shore.
“Usually you’d have to get in a boat and have to go 10 miles offshore. Now you can stand on the waterfront and watch the races for free,” said Barclay.
Crissy Field, Marina Green, were listed all the way down to the Embarcadero and Pier 27 and 29, which is call America’s Cup Park. Barclay said the park will probably be the premiere place to watch it.
Murray said people have a choice since some of those areas listed will be ticketed seats. “Bleacher sales have gone famously well,” he said. It’s an attempt at a carnival-like atmosphere that basically starts at 10 a.m. and could go anywhere from 5 p.m. or until 11 at night if you take in a concert.
The round robins go until about August 1st, with semifinals beginning on August 6th. New Zealand is said to be having a promising performance so far and it looks as if they may go through to the finals.
The team said America’s Cup is bringing 5,000 to 6,000 jobs to the city and should rake in around $1.5 billion in revenue
It’s still uncertain if Team Oracle would return to San Francisco if they end up with the win this year since the winner gets to pick where to go.
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