America’s Cup rocks the boats

The catamarans chosen to compete in the next America’s Cup race will sail faster than any of their predecessors, making the race “shorter, sharper and more spectacular” than ever before, according to an announcement from BMW Oracle Racing on Monday.

Similarly, San Francisco will have to move faster than ever before if it wants to host the regatta.

The next America’s Cup race will be held in 2013 rather than 2014, according to leaders of BMW Oracle Racing, the team backed by Oracle CEO and Bay Area billionaire Larry Ellison. The team has the right to determine the race’s next date and place.

The location won’t be announced until the end of the year, but most of the other specifications — including the race length, the boat size and the tournament setup — were announced Monday.

BMW Oracle leader Russell Coutts said the next race will be sailed with 72-foot catamarans, boats specially designed to be able to handle 3- to 33-knot wind gusts. Crew sizes will be reduced from 17 to 11.

Several changes will be made in hopes of appealing to younger fans, Coutts said, including making the race shorter, protecting it from delays, broadcasting directly from the boats and replacing the inflatable buoys used to mark
turning points with geostatic spectator boats.

All those specifications make San Francisco an ideal location for the race, Mayor Gavin Newsom said. But he admitted the tighter timeline could be challenging.

“The timeline still works,” Newsom said. “The issue that still remains is the process that requires environmental review. That is the one competitive disadvantage … that we face versus Rome and Valencia.”

He said it will require completing “a focused [environmental impact report] and a term sheet by the end of the year.”

If that happens, Newsom said, “we will have plenty of time to start the buildout.”

San Francisco is the only remaining American contender to host the race, which officials have claimed could bring more than $1 billion in business to The City.

The City is proposing building a village to host the event along its central waterfront extending from the Bay Bridge south past AT&T Park.

kworth@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsLocalraceSan Francisco

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