On a beautiful, breezy day on the bay, I joined the media and several teams of international youth crews to watch the final week of Red Bull competitive selections. It was fun to observe the Italian, Portuguese and British teams vying for selection of whom our official AC boat was ferrying to Richardson Bay. But more events were going on that week in preparation for this summer’s competitions.
When I arrived at Oracle’s huge hangar and pier where all the Red Bull youth are being trained, I paused to watch the mechanics involved to get Oracle’s longboat into the water. San Francisco has become a city of construction cranes, and here on the dock was a skyscraper crane lifting a wing onto the catamaran and ultimately lifting hulls and wing into the water beside the pier.
The money to prepare for this summer’s event boggles the mind. To launch a longboat each time requires a crew of about a dozen union stevedores and the crane operator to precisely move, join and bolt the craft together and then to berth it in the water. Even the cradles to hold these two massive parts is awesome. The wagon for the hulls is like a bed with outer rails 50 feet apart; similarly the wing has its own unique cradle.
After this hour-long ballet, while the longboat was still anchored, a man had to climb the wing—attached by invisible security lines—to attach fragile antenna and monitors to the very top of the mast, so that crew and course marshalls could read the winds when the craft was racing.
Further down the pier, a smaller but still huge hydraulic truck-mounted crane was assembling and lifting into the water the three rebranded Red Bull AC45 catamarans that the six international teams of young sailors would be racing for several days to qualify for their Red Bull Youth America’s Cup races during the first four days of September.
These young sailors had been oriented to their international race and new boats by some of their heroes from the Oracle team. Before they could even step onto the boats they endured several days’ workouts and tests of their stamina.
The judges are looking not merely for precise teamwork but also for the personality of the teams, and how well they work and communicate together.
So after days of testing, these sailors were finally demonstrating their sailing smarts. We watched as they carried their gear down the gangplank and onto the awaiting boats. Half the crews would sail the catamarans out and race them. Later the other crews would switch places and get their turn before sailing the boats back to the dock. Following close in the wake of each catamaran was its Zodiac chase boat, typically with the swap crew. Other official boats tended to the course boundaries and timings or to provide rescue, if necessary.
From the official AC master boat, Restless, the media observed the race with the international teams’ media, monitoring and photographing the performance of their teams.
With all on board we sailed north obliquely from the city skyline past Angel Island and into Richardson Bay, where the day’s races would be held. Restless has two 750hp Yamaha engines, so it could easily keep abreast of the catamarans. And at three levels high there was a good view from aft on the deck or up in the wheelhouse with the captain. Beside him was a set of six big screen monitors where the Marshall of the Race follows and judges the competition during the race.
We watched as the racing between the teams unfolded on this minicourse. The youth are all experienced sailors on catamarans, but the size and wingspan of this craft was new and challenging. As the winds kicked up, practice racing had to be reassigned to a different location. Rather than racing in the more secluded Richardson Bay between the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges where the Delta empties into the bay, the authorities transferred the afternoon racing to south of the Bay Bridge. This meant that while avoiding shipping lanes, the boats could race and practice tacking with the judges assessing them, although they were no longer on a bounded race course.
For me, this day on the bay had another personal reward: I got to watch the famed sports photographer Gilles Martin-Raget, whose photos have complemented much of my coverage, while he was totally absorbed in documenting all aspects of this year’s World’s Cup.
By the end of the day, we all returned elated and exhausted. The young men had a couple more days of sailing before the judges announced which teams would race in early September. The losers would never forget this rigorous elimination process, and the winners would face a grueling pace of workouts and practices in their home countries before returning to San Francisco for the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay, September 1-4, 2013.
Selection Series Teams advancing to Red Bull Youth America’s Cup are: Australia's Objective Australia; Germany's STG/NRV Youth Team; New Zealand's Full Metal Jacket Racing; Portugal's ROFF/Cascais Sailing Team; and Switzerland's Team TILT.
Youth crews supported by America’s Cup World Series Teams are: France's Energy Team/Name TBC; New Zealand's Emirates Team New Zealand/Name TBC; Sweden's Artemis Racing/Swedish Youth Challenge; USA's ORACLE TEAM USA/American Youth Sailing Force (SFO); and USA's ORACLE TEAM USA/USA45 Racing (USA).

The America’s Cup Village and Stadium
As in nature, so it is with boats—the swiftly gliding smaller ones dart about before the sea monsters cruise into town. From March through October the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) will be headquartered in a new two-story facility to anchor their AC Village on Pier 27 as the 11-member crews race their graceful and swift AC72s, crossing the finishing line at the pier. After the Cup is awarded, the new $90 million building becomes the Herman Cruise Terminal, welcoming cruise ships—each containing up to 4,000 passengers—docking at the city next year.
As the mayor noted, this legacy project will continue long after the Cup races. Not only will it create jobs this summer, but thereafter it will welcome visitors and residents alike to our waterfront, providing a significant economic impact. He reminded all that this major infrastructure project was delivered on time and within budget, to become the centerpiece of the America’s Cup Park. Cleverly, when a ship is not docked at it, the terminal is designed to provide extra convention space for visitors. By 2014 the terminal will serve cruise ships and welcome visitors at its new two-and-a-half acre public park, the Northeast Wharf Plaza.
The new cruise terminal will be the anchor of the AC Village at Piers 27-29. It was revealed that the 4,000-seat amphitheater planned for the site, where Live Nation will entertain audiences throughout the summer, had grown to 9,000 seat capacity. It is easily accessible and is expected to attract hordes of people—which is exactly what’s needed to help defray costs.
It is amazing how anything as huge as the America’s Cup can galvanize not only such a world-class spectacle but also accelerate other projects which had been languishing. Of course I write this account on the weekend when our federal government was stymied into sequestration, which essentially says that during this first half year of freefall, with the budget battle still to be acted out this month, pulling off the America’s Cup will be more difficult than estimated. Still, the free entertainment of a stadium city is pretty close to the Roman formula of providing the public a circus or gladiatorial combat to distract it from more pertinent or mundane matters.

Artemis strengthens its crew
And if this weren’t enough news fit to print, Artemis recently announced they were deepening the strength of their crew by adding three new members, with intentions not only to win this year’s Cup but also to strengthen the team for the future. Each new teammate is championed by a senior sailor on Artemis’ team.
Iain Jensen and Andrew Simpson medaled in the 2012 Olympics, adding to the team’s already illustrious Olympians Percy, Lange, Outteridge and Monk. John Gimson is campaigning to represent Great Britain in the 2016 Rio Olympic games and is a seasoned podium finisher.
Jensen and Gimson will provide sailing and training support for the team, including maintenance and logistics for the team’s AC45 and F18 fleet. Simpson will provide weather and tactics support to the afterguard.
Jensen crewed for Nathan Outteridge when they won gold in the 49er class in last year’s London summer Olympics. He was 49er world champion in 2009 and 2011 as well as European 49er champion in 2011. Again I say San Francisco has a special pride in all 49ers.
Gimson is a proven podium regular in a variety of classes, too. And Simpson medaled in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics in the Star Class as crew for Iain Percy, winning gold and silver medals.
Artemis Racing CEO Paul Cayard summed up the team’s pride in their new teammates by saying, "As an America’s Cup Team, we are investing in the team’s future with guys like Andrew, Iain, John and Nathan. These young sailors bring talent and enthusiasm to our team. They are the future of the America’s Cup.”

By Ted Olsson
Exclusive for Nordstjernan from San Francisco Bay