What's going on with the America's Cup?

America's Cup 34 has already started. Remember those two zippy Oracle catamarans cruising the bay this summer? Teams Spithill and Coutts (my kids love to say koootz) have already raced at World Series events in Cascais, Portugal and Plymouth, England - which just concluded. Next up is San Diego in early November.

We've been watching Live From Europe with our morning oatmeal via youtube.com/americascup. Once you start to "get" it... it really gets entertaining. It's all about teamwork and technology! They are working very hard to appeal to a wider tv audience that knows little about sailing with the assistance of precision GPS, onboard cameras, helicopters, and computer graphics by Stan Honey, the same guy who brought us the 10 yard line in football, the hockey halo, NASCAR's RACEf/x, and baseball's PITCHf/x, among other triumphs.

We watched fleet races, where all 9 teams compete at the same time, and match races where they face off in duals to win the bracket. So far in the total standings, Emirates Team New Zealand is in 1st place followed by Oracle-Spithill (Spithill is the captain), Oracle-Coutts (koootz!) in 3rd, Sweden's Artemis Racing, and Team Korea in 5th. Watching Team Korea blossom in the final days of Plymouth was the biggest thrill at our house. Maybe we are just real keen on the white tiger graphics, but it was huge fun watching them emerge.

There have also been some brilliant capsizes and even cartwheels! I dare to imagine what happens when the larger, faster AC72 boats race on our windy bay.

These AC45 boats are designed to be packed into a crate in less than 24 hours and re-assembled within 48 at the next event location. The goal is to create an America's Cup racing circuit. Perhaps late next summer we'll see the much larger AC72's. For now, it's the 45's racing in San Diego (coming up), Venice, Italy (May 2012), and Newport, Rhode Island (June 2012) and maybe even here in Summer 2012. The main event (aka Louis Vuitton Cup) with the AC72's takes place July thru mid-September of 2013 on San Francisco Bay.

So what does this mean for us here in Alameda? It could actually mean a lot. The America's Cup is the third largest sporting event in the world following the Olympics and World Cup Soccer. It's bigger than 3 Super Bowls and could mean 1.4 billion dollars for the Bay Area economy. Because of Alameda's location and maritime assets, we have tremendous opportunity to benefit from the heightened activity of visitors via land, water, and air to experience the spectacle.

Last spring, the City Council helped create a citizens' AC34 committee to investigate the ways in which Alameda can benefit from AC34. I am part of the commission and have been to nearly 10 meetings. We have a city representative and an interesting mix of island entrepreneurs and maritime experts. There has also been a steady flow of contributors from the public and guests invited by commission and council members.

The AC34 Commission is looking at long-term benefits following AC34 as well as capitalizing on the events themselves. If we play our cards right, America's Cup could really bring a lot of public and private synergies together for Alameda's long term benefit.

There are many good ideas and we have recently set up subcommittees to better focus. I will save that for another time, but please be reminded that the public is welcome to attend these meetings. The schedule and agendas are on the city site and also appear on AlamedaWaterfront.com.

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