Thursday, July 11, 2013

The dog days of sailing...

NZ Emirates hydrofoils as it approaches the buoy!

Ever since 1851, when the narrow bow entry of the schooner America raised eyebrows among British competitors, extreme design innovations have always been an inherent part of America's Cup competitions.  But never before have innovations been more radical than in this, the 34th edition!

Team Oracle with a fog-shrouded Golden Gate
Following the 2010 America's Cup with USA's Oracle the winner, it was decided that future competitions would be sailed in catamarans to make the sport more attractive to television audiences.  This led to the new and revolutionary and also controversial design of the America's Cup 72 Class, with the addition of daggerboard foils.  The AC72s we saw practicing and racing this last week were not only blasting along at phenomenal speeds, but literally flying above the water's surface!

USA and NZ cross paths on a practice run
Two major incidences showed the potential danger these large catamarans face on the SF Bay.  Last October Oracle's AC 72 pitchpoled and capsized while being swept out under the Golden Gate Bridge during a strong ebb-tide.  Fortunately there were no injuries to the crew.  Recently, in May, Sweden's Artemis Racing team AC72 pitchpoled and broke apart resulting in the death of one crew member.

Classic Bird Boat on the Bay
All facts and controversy aside, our day trips were fuelled by a love for the art and fun of sailing and photo ops for yours truly.  Howard, a sailor at heart, raced the classic Bird Boat, Mavis, during the early 1960s.  When we first got together in 1989, Howard lived aboard his 35' sloop in Half Moon Bay, after years of sailing in Florida and the Bahamas.  We try to include sailing venues along with RV travels whenever possible, via friends or bareboat charters.  We find ourselves drifting off to trips in the recent past, sailing in the crystal clear, turquoise waters of the Caribbean, in Belize and Honduras, and aboard the Star Flyer for 21 days, sailing from Barbados through the Panama Canal to Costa Rica.  Then years past in Mexico's Sea of Cortes, the eastern Caribbean's Virgin Islands and even as far away as New Caledonia in the French South Pacific.

San Francisco's Crissy Field dog park offers an excuse to nap the grandlab, Annie, for a great day of sailing action,  swimming and chasing a ball.  The camera is hopelessly covered with the remains of a shaking wet dog and fervent hole digging sand.  We manage a deli-provided picnic sandwich amidst the action, both on shore and water.

We take advantage of the couple of weeks left in our Bay Area stay before departing the end of July for the Pacific Northwest, and onward, God willing.  Our days are filled with family time, day trips to easily accessible coastal hikes and inland vineyards, visits with local friends, and endless RV projects.  Oh, and the round of doctor far, so good!

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