America's Cup, Ed Lee hail arrival of 'extreme sailing' 

The America’s Cup and San Francisco are now officially partners in what organizers hope will be a complete overhaul of the sport that will “blow away all the stuffiness” from an activity that has traditionally appealed only to the wealthy.

Click on the photo to the right to see more images from the America's Cup event.

Those were the words of star sailor Sir Russell Coutts, the Olympic gold medalist and perennial America’s Cup winner, who stood alongside Mayor Ed Lee and the America’s Cup trophy on Friday at the future site of the finishing line at Pier 27.

The event kicked off the “extreme sailing” regatta that’s coming this summer and fall, and again for the final races in September 2013.

The final races will include the speediest and largest boats the competition has ever seen, with masts towering to the height of a 12-story building and zipping around the bay at speeds up to 50 mph.

“You’ll probably see a few boats capsize,” the mayor said with a wide smile.

Both men acknowledged “refocusing” and “heartache” that made the race’s official approval process less than smooth sailing, but that’s all water under the boat now, they said. Lee said improvements made to accommodate the America’s Cup will bring about a rebirth of The City’s formerly industrial waterfront.

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