Call it the World Series, the Super Bowl or the World Cup of sailing. That’s how yacht racing fans would describe the America’s Cup yacht race. And for a race that lasts about four months, it’s not a bloated boast.
“It’s the holy grail of sailing," said Norbert Bajurin, staff commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club.
Now this most prestigious of events, which loosely takes place every three or four years, may be coming to San Francisco. Billionaire Oracle founder Larry Ellison and his BMW-Oracle racing team took the cup this past February. To the winner goes the spoils, or in the case of America’s Cup, the winner gets to pick the next venue.
This week, the team named San Francisco as the sole U.S. city in the running. A few other countries are also in the hunt, but since San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club happens to be the home club for Ellison’s team, you’d think the City would have a lock.
Although Bajurin, who will play a role in the decision, is officially taking the “we’ll wait and see” line, he certainly provides ample reasons to bring the tournament to the bay.
“Cause it’s beautiful; it’s San Francisco, it’s our city, it’s our team,” he said.
It’s easy to see why sailing fans, businesses and city leaders will be going to the mat to lure the race to San Francisco. The race itself lasts up to four months. There will be sailing teams, their families and their fans coming to the Bay Area, booking hotels, eating in restaurants and crowding the waterfront.
“We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars, arguably even billions in economic activity,” said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who is lobbying to bring the America’s Cup to the bay.
But before San Francisco can reap those rewards, it will have to lay-out millions of dollars to revamp its decrepit southern waterfront where the cup’s sailing village would likely be located. At a time when the City’s cupboard is bare, Newsom said the City would look to corporate sponsors to help out.
“What we don’t have is a built-out infrastructure that’s necessary for these boats to be docked and to launch,” Newsom said.
Organizers say a decision on the host venue will likely be made by the end of this year. The next race will take place in the next three or four years, with the City by the bay, hoping it’s bid will be all smooth sailing.