SAN FRANCISCO, October 17, 2013 — The wind flies through your hair as you steer the high-speed America’s Cup yacht under the Golden Gate Bridge. Your teammates are scurrying in front of you to grind on the big sail trim controls as you can hear the traffic on the bridge. It’s a sunny day in San Francisco, and the yacht has already flown past a field of boats.
If the recent America’s Cup competition gave you the desire for your own heart-racing America’s Cup experience on San Francisco Bay, there’s still a way for you to sail on a real AC yacht.
San Francisco’s entry for the 31st America’s Cup in 2003 was named USA 76, and was used by the Oracle racing team in their preparation to challenge for the America’s Cup help in Auckland, New Zealand. That year, Team Alinghi from Switzerland won the Challenger Series and went on to take the America’s Cup.
The retired yacht was acquired by ACsailingSF in 2011, and is now used for public and private charters throughout the year. Unlike this year’s 72-foot catamarans, the USA 76 is an 84-foot monohull, but that doesn’t stop it from zipping through San Francisco Bay with a good wind.
Sailing for about 2.5 hours, the public charters are an ideal way to participate in the sailing of an International America’s Cup Class yacht, whether you prefer to take the helm or get a bit of a workout as a grinder. All the while, you’re getting breathtaking views of San Francisco Bay, and even sailing underneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Rates start at $140 per adult, but range depending on sail date.
If you want to dive into the sailing life just a little more, join the USA 76 on one of its two Pursuit Races each year, against local competition. Because the yacht is so fast, it gives the other boats a very long head start before racing to catch and pass as many as possible. The next date is the Great Pumpkin Regatta on Sunday, Oct. 27.
In addition, a pro-sailor speaker series throughout the year gives those looking for a more in-depth experience to sail with a professional sailor, get hands-on tips, and hear some amazing stories.
You may not be training for the next America’s Cup, but at least you can get an amazing experience in one of the most iconic places in the world to sail. And then, you can grab a cocktail in a waterfront bar and tell your own sailing stories.
Jill K. Robinson is an award-winning journalist and adventure seeker. Follow her adventures on dangerjillrobinson.com and Twitter @dangerjr. Jill is an avid kayaker and owner of Half Moon Bay Kayak Company.
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