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Website URL: http://surfcityracing.org
UPDATE: Check out the StFYC live web cam. The rescue is under way.
Erik Simonson from Pressure Drop was on the City Front photographing Oracle Team USA’s brand new AC 72, when firing the shutter he noticed something peculiar through his viewfinder. As the team bore away just east of the Golden Gat Bridge, the bows stuffed, and Simonson kept snapping. At approximately 3:00 PST, the boat flipped mid bay in a huge flurry of spray. Here’s his report from San Francisco just moments ago.
Where are you right now?
I am standing between Club 45 and the Golden Gate Yacht Club.
Tell me what happened?
They were headed to weather about ¾ of a mile west of Alcatraz in 25 to 30. They bore away to set towards Point Blunt. They went about 200 yds. and stuffed the bows. Most of the crew fell off at that time. The top of the wing broke off at that point, the second section broke off about 2 minutes after that, and now the entire rig, less the very bottom, is floating and connected by who knows what.
What’s happening right now?
Right now we have a crewmember climbing the trampoline. The boat is resting in a tripod fashion. It’s resting on the bows and what’s left of the wing. It is currently drifting at about 2 knots out the gate. ]
So there are rescue boats on the scene, are they trying to right it or rescue any parts of it?
I see parts floating around. I think that they’re not interested in the parts. It looks like they’re trying to right the boat, so they can tow it out of danger. If they don’t do it fast, it’s going to be out the Gate. It’ll save Larry a whole bunch of shipping money though getting it to the compound in HI.
Do you see any shipping traffic at this time?
There are no inbound or outbound ships at this time, but there are a few ferries.
Do you see any Coast Guard on scene?
No. And I don’t have a radio to hear and conversation.
Thanks Erik Simonson. Live from San Francisco.
More interviews coming.
It was on it's side for a while, 3/4s buried, and at a diagonal. They don't seem to be making a lot of progress as far as flipping it.
So you can see the mast now floating?
Yes. The leading edge is there. Everything else looks like it's gone. They have one guy climbing the tramp, up to the very tippy-top. There's a large cargo ship within 100 yds of it. They're half way between Point Diable and Point Bonita. There's a CG Cutter sitting out by Bonita, and a Surf Rescue Vessel on scene.
So it didn't actually turtle, it just kind of rolled?
For a while there it looked like it was about to, but they got enough throttle on to keep it from turtling. From my perspective, I think it would be easier for them to let the mast go free and tow it upside down. I guess there's a lot of expensive gear in there.
After reading this article in the SF Chron by Leah Garchik about her experiences while watching the ACWS in SF from the elite Club45, I decided to give another view...my view from the other end of the spectrum. I was watching the races from a tiny, wet boat, from the water just in front of where she was standing.
Making money by releasing a shutter, especially for sailing events, isn’t the easiest way to make a living. Luckily, the lack of cold hard green, is offset by the sheer adventure of it. While working, I’ve stopped myself countless times, looked around dripping wet, fatigued, hypothermic, thousands of dollars of camera gear at the top limit of their salt water intake capabilities, and felt nothing but alive. Multiple times while shooting in close quarters, I’ve felt like, “There’s no f*cking way we’re getting out of this one!” But like clockwork, the talent and skill of all of the drivers involved always manage to somehow get us out of trouble. Having a keen knowledge of sailing, boating in general, and understanding your limits and the limits of the crew, are the key elements required to not get hurt or causing damage. I look at sailing photography is an adrenaline sport, it hangs you out in the elements, and lets you know exactly what you’re made of. You have to be immersed in the environment or you’re not going to get the shot. I think that if you’re not getting a charge from your adrenal gland, from either the physical aspects or the artistic side of it, then you’re doing it wrong. I'll say right now, that I'm still learning the craft.
Of course, I’m talking about my own experience. I don’t have a $150G RIB, driver, and the budget to travel around sipping latte and taking happy snaps. There are definitely tools that can buffer the treachery that I noted above, but on a real photog budget, they’re generally unobtainable. We marine photogs (and photogs in general) use the tools that we have, and are forced to improvise often.
In my case, my tool of choice is a 1990 15’ Hobie Skiff. It’s small and fast, and very maneuverable, allowing me to get in close without disturbing the racers very much. At speed, she barely throws a wake. I know her controls and capacities like the back of my hand. I get in, get the shot, and get out like lightening. Her top speed is 37 knots, but if it’s rough you’d better considerably back off, she’ll hurt you. Foulies are mandatory, she’s not a dry boat by any stretch.
I wanted to introduce you to my scene a bit, so that you can better understand the rest of this story. The following tale chronicles a more Bohemian America’s Cup experience. It was quite the opposite of Ms. Garchik’s time in Club45, and it was one hell of an adventure...though I acknowledge that each experience has its place.
Our friend and long-time Bay sailor Dave Whilte sends this eyewitness report from San Francisco on Oracle's foiling 72 trials.
I was about to head into the Sausalito library to get some work done when a friend called while driving over the GGB and said that the 72 was sailing. I hurried across town to Yellow Bluff and hiked out to the edge and there they were! In about fifteen minutes they sailed down to about halfway between Pt Blunt and Alcatraz back up to the GGB and then gave me a second flyby which is where I captured these photos. Needless to say this cat makes pretty short work of the bay. Wind 10 to 13 kts WSW with a massive flood running. As to foiling, they plopped down pretty hard as they turned into the gybe and it didn't look like they were really able/interested in foiling as they powered up and steadily flew a hull on starboard.
I can't tell if it's lens distortion, or if the rig is bending.
Thanks foir the report! If YOU see anything that you think would be of interest, drop us a note.
In a strange turn of events, Bay Area sailor Todd Tholke may have gone from hero to zero in the eyes of the sailing community, when he first rescued the Energy Team's AC 45 from being grounded on Treasure Island, and then later brought legal action to "arrest" the boat after Energy finished racing the ACWS. The Energy Team's AC45 apparently broke free of it's mooring and drifted toward Treasure Island in the benign conditions of the early morning hours of September 30th, just before the final day of racing in San Francisco. Claiming salvage rights, Tholke and his attorney are asking for upwards of $200,000 as compensation for the solo, Boston Whaler equipped, 3am "salvage operation". According to a piece in Latitude 38, Tholoke's actions have raised the ire of the flags of the mighty StFYC, where Tholke is reportedly a member. The story goes that they have sent him a letter describing the legal action as, "conduct unbecoming a member...". The Energy Team offered Tholke a ride aboard the AC45, a highly coveted prize for any sailor, but it wasn't enough to curb legal action. Sure, we can see the legitimacy of asking for compensation like a tank of gas, a couple of hundred bucks for time and effort, throw a couple of drinks and dinner with the team, etc., but $200,000 seems quite excessive. Welcome to the US, Energy Team, here's your lawsuit.
We'll keep our eyes on this one!
Several months ago we reported on this cool behind-the-scenes look at the making of a commercial, whose main actor was Luna Rossa's AC45 and members of their sailing team.
Here's what the finished product looks like:
San Francisco continues to fire up and provide an incredible venue for the America's Cup World Series! Wednesday saw match racing, while Thursday was the first day of fleet racing. The Blue Angels are in town for Fleet week, and their practice track was directly over the America's Cup race course. Fleet racing continued until late afternoon...a dream for photogs. The spectator fleet was much smaller than the event in August, and the amount of Coast Guard and other law enforcement vessels just about equalled the fan boats. It will be interesting to see what happens this weekend. Here are a couple of shots that I snagged from the water. Enjoy!
Apparently the word got out that people are calling Oracle's 72 Batzilla.
Yesterday we reported on ETNZ's Dean Barker calling out the ACEA in his blog post, for changing venue plans for the 2013 America's Cup. In a post titled Bombshell in San Fran, Barker commented that, "Today the Event organisers dropped a bombshell on the Americas Cup competitors when they announced they will no longer be requiring the Teams to be based on Piers 30 and 32, and more importantly would not be paying for any redevelopment of the Piers as has been promised for the last 18 months...I have to say we are a long long way from the vision presented to us back in September 2010."
In today's blog post, Barker's tone was notably more positive as he wrote, "San Francisco is a great venue and we enjoy being here. Next year will be amazing."
For a more complete view of what's going on, check out our friend Michell Slade's SailBlast article, where she had a little sit down with Deano and sorted a few things. Then, when you're done there, check out Kimball Livingston's Blue Planet Times article, where he interviews AC CEO Stephen Barclay in an attempt to unravel the mysterious inner-workings of the ACEA.
It's going to be interesting to see how this all shakes out. Regardless, we'll be there watching some epic racing, aboard some badass boats!
This is perhaps the most exciting AC Vid in quite some time. It chronicles the rebuild of USA 17's foil, and shows some legitimate foil-borne sailing.
We like Dean Barker and the Kiwis. Straight shooters by all accounts. We've been reading the Kiwi Yachting Blog for quite some time, and oftentimes Dean puts out some gems. Here is one such gem!
Today the Event organisers dropped a bombshell on the Americas Cup competitors when they announced they will no longer be requiring the Teams to be based on Piers 30 and 32, and more importantly would not be paying for any redevelopment of the Piers as has been promised for the last 18 months.
I am sitting here completely stunned. We are a little over 6 months from relocating our base to San Fran to what we have been told would be a fully functioning base area complete with Team hospitality spaces and full access for the public to watch the teams preparing and launching their boats. It is now going to be a concrete slab with absolutely nothing on it which will now require us to secure cranes, jettys, and all services required to function. We have never budgeted for this and to be dropped on us now is quite unbelievable.
I have to say we are a long long way from the vision presented to us back in September 2010. Larry Ellison has done a lot for this AC and has put a lot of his own financial resource into making the Americas Cup next year a big event. However I think in terms of a lot of decisions made along the way by different people here we are with only 3 challengers and now no base facility to operate out of. This is a long way from the success of 2007 in Valencia no matter how you package it.
The catamarans are great but the AC72's are just way too expensive. Not only is the design and build of the new boats extreme, but then you need a small army just to launch and retrieve the boat each day let alone the work to maintain it.
There is no question the AC72 racing next year will be spectacular. That is fortunate because the rest of the show looks to be well below expectations.
On the AC45 front we had a good practice day in what was the most amazing day I have experienced in SF. Tomorrow we have the official practice races which will be good before the racing proper kicks off Wednesday.
All for now
This ought to get interesting.