America's Cup voyage to San Francisco nearly complete 

click to enlarge Gliding into town: Seven countries are expected to take part in an Aug. 21 kickoff event. - S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
  • S.F. Examiner File Photo
  • Gliding into town: Seven countries are expected to take part in an Aug. 21 kickoff event.

In less than three weeks, the first events of the America’s Cup will be coming to the San Francisco Bay, and organizers are working to make the World Series regatta event inviting to all.

Tom Ehman, vice commodore for the Golden Gate Yacht Club, said the boats will sail so close to shore, it will appear as if spectators can reach out and touch them.

“It will be something the sailing world has not seen before,” Ehman said.

The course, which is less than three miles in length, will remain south of Alcatraz Island and between the Golden Gate Bridge and Aquatic Park to allow prime viewing from Marina Green.

In addition to the finish line, crossing just off the St. Francis Yacht Club, the America’s Cup Event Authority is working to create an atmosphere that sailors and nonsailors alike can enjoy.

“We’ve got bleacher seats with concessions, a kids’ education zone, and a food and beverage area,” said Stephen Barclay, CEO of the authority. “And we’ll have temporary docks set up so the boats will be lined up every evening.”

Additionally, the authority has arranged a Saturday evening concert and meet-and-greet with the skippers of the 11 boats racing in the World Series.

“We can’t just put up a screen and expect people to be interested,” Ehman said. “We have to make the sailors personable in order to make this as human an experience as possible.”

The Aug. 21 event, which will feature seven countries, kicks off a year of sailing in San Francisco Bay.

Construction is continuing at piers 27 and 29 for the America’s Cup village and grandstands for the main regatta next year. Ehman said that area also will feature enhanced spectator experiences. Unlike any previous America’s Cup, fans will be able to see the finish of the race.

“For the first time in history, the cup won’t be five, 10 or 15 miles offshore,” Ehman said. “Everyone can watch. We’ll have a modern spectator–friendly, free-of-charge village. It’s fantastic.”

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