America's Cup in San Francisco
I recently had to watch a few of the America's Cup races in San Francisco. As you may know, this is the 34th America's Cup and this year has seen a number of significant changes from the past. As the defending champs, Oracle Team USA was able to dictate the changes, which include a much shorter course than usual and a drastic change in the design of the boats. These AC72 boats certainly don't look much like traditional sailboats and have had their share of controversy, but they are quite impressive to see in person. Click to read more and see more photos.
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The short course makes it very easy for spectators to follow the action, with numerous great vantage points in the City by the Bay. I watched the races from a patio above the famous Ghirardelli Square, which gave me a great view of everything but the finish line. The two races I saw were fairly well decided before the finish line, but there was a TV nearby in case of a close finish.
Currently, Oracle Team USA is trailing the Emirates New Zealand team 8-5, which puts New Zealand just one win away from taking the America's Cup title. The US team has actually won 7 races, but were docked two points for cheating in the America's Cup World Series last summer. The penalty also resulted in the US Team losing a few of their team members to suspension. San Francisco Chronicle writer Tom Fitzgerald said "No other America's Cup boat has ever been punished as severely."
The patio I was on was hosting a Team Oracle party so there was plenty of Team USA support. However I've heard New Zealand fans have been much more vocal around San Francisco. Oracle has pulled closer and hopefully will be able genearate a little more buzz around the city by pusing it to the final day. Two races are scheduled for today (September 23rd), with the final two scheduled for tomorrow if they should be necessary. If you're not in San Francisco, you can follow the action live on the America's Cup YouTube channel.