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Locals, city start America’s Cup campaign

Submitted by on 1, March 4, 2010 – 6:00 am3 Comments

City officials and members of Alameda’s sailing and business communities are banding together in an effort to help bring the America’s Cup sailing race to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2013, a move they hope will lift the Island’s profile – and generate cash for city and commercial coffers.

Development Services Director Leslie Little has contacted her counterpart in San Francisco, which has been asked to submit a proposal to host the race. And on Wednesday, the city couriered a package touting the Island’s assets and willingness to support San Francisco to Oracle chief Larry Ellison, whose BMW Oracle Racing Team won the 33rd Cup match on February 14 in Valencia, Spain. (They were sponsored by San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, which gets to decide where the next match will be held.)

“We see this as an opportunity to leverage Alameda’s participating in this,” Interim City Manager Ann Marie Gallant said. “We are prepared to be a partner with San Francisco.”

Gallant said the city is hoping to assemble a public-private consortium similar to the one Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri set up in an effort to bring the race back to Newport, R.I. (San Diego is the third city that’s been named as a contender in the race for the Cup). And she and other race boosters are hopeful that Alameda’s robust marine industry, miles of shoreline, and hangars and vacant space at Alameda Point will be attractive to the committee that picks the next location for it.

“I’ve worked in the marine industry in Alameda for the last 10 or 11 years and raced over 100 regattas in San Francisco Bay. I know this venue is a capable venue of holding this particular regatta,” Grand Marina Harbormaster Andy McKinley said.

And members of the local business community said the race could offer great exposure – and financial opportunities – for Alameda.

“I don’t think I need to tell you how excited West Alameda is to have the America’s Cup come to Alameda,” said Kathy Moehring, executive director of the West Alameda Business Association. “I just want to bring my pom-poms and be on the team.”

Bob Naber, a local resident, multi-hull enthusiast (Ellison’s winning boat is a wing sail-powered trimaran) and Golden Gate Yacht Club member, thought the race would be a good use of Alameda Point. He contacted city leaders the day Oracle won it to suggest the idea.

Naber said Ellison sounded positive about the idea of using Alameda as a location for the race when Naber approached him at the club’s victory party on February 19.

“He said, ‘I love Alameda and I used to sail there. I had a boat there,'” Naber said. (Naber had a little less luck with BMW Oracle CEO Russell Coutts, who didn’t know where Alameda was, though he was familiar with the late Steve Fossett’s record-breaking big cat Cheyenne, which I believe is still docked out at Nelson’s Marine).

The regatta has been in existence since 1851, predating the modern Olympics by 45 years. It is raced by the defending Cup holder and the first qualifying team to challenge them. Over the years, J-class yachts have given way to high-tech, multi-hull ships. This year, challenger BMW Oracle defeated defender Alinghi 2-0 in a three-race match.

For more information on Alameda’s efforts to bring the America’s Cup to the Island, go to www.americascupalameda.com.

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