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America's Cup Races Spark Interest In Parks

Golden Gate National Recreation Area

National Park News

After two seasons of high speed sailing, the finale of the famed 34th America's Cup (AC34) races is finally here. The last matches of the best-of-17 competition will take place this week–determining who will take home the trophy and host the 35th America’s Cup.

The current winner of the Cup determines not only the location and date of the 162-year-old sailing event, but also the types of boats that will be raced. Software titan Larry Ellison's decision to bring the race to the San Francisco Bay when his Oracle Team USA (Team USA) won the cup three years ago sent hopes and aspirations flying. However, the high-speed, 72-foot catamarans chosen are expensive to build and hard to sail, so only three teams competed for the chance to challenge Team USA. After a series of races, Emirates Team New Zealand earned the position as challenger. Although crowds have been smaller than expected, the racing has proven to be very exciting and dynamic.

Much of the racing during the past two years has occurred just off-shore of Golden Gate National Recreation Area, one of the most heavily visited national parks in the country. It was expected that tens of thousands of race enthusiasts would flock to the Bay Area to take in the spectacle, not usually visible from land.

Michael Savidge, chief of strategic planning for Golden Gate National Recreation Area, working closely with the U.S Coast Guard, the City of San Francisco and America’s Cup race organizers developed a plan and completed the NEPA compliance requirements to respond to projected crowds and uses. The partnerships and working relationships that the National Park Service has forged while preparing for this event have exceeded expectations. 

A deeper understanding of each partner’s mission has helped the NPS and U.S. Coast Guard find common ground to work together on joint goals, such as placing marine buoys to mark the boundaries of a temporary restriction around Alcatraz Island to protect the nesting seabirds.  Many at Golden Gate National Recreation Area have put in significant time and effort making sure the park resources, visitors and staff remain protected and accessible during the lengthy duration of this event. The event was managed by the Golden Gate Incident Command Team, with Noemi Robinson as incident commander and members from the park and the US Park Police San Francisco Field Office, with crucial support from Golden Gate National Park Conservancy.

Racing was postponed due to wind conditions on Tuesday. Yesterday, Team New Zealand, won the first of two races, bringing them to an almost insurmountable lead of 8 to 1, but the competition is not over. The second race was postponed, again due to wind conditions. Two races are scheduled today. If USA Team wins both races or if today's races are canceled due to inclement conditions, racing could continue through the weekend.


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