Super sailing on San Francisco Bay

I take back everything I said against racing catamarans instead of monohulls in the America’s Cup.

After seeing the Oracle and New Zealand boats in the first four races in good wind on San Francisco Bay, I’m not sure I would want to watch the old monohull keelboats plow through the water at a fraction of the speed. These big catamarans can dance — skippers gracefully dipping one hull and lifting the other like the weighting and unweighting of skis — and fly at forty knots. Acceleration out of the marks is amazing. The crews have learned how to handle the ungainly looking things like sports cars.

I’m still not used to the solid wingsails and no changing of headsails, but this is great stuff to watch — I guess greatly enabled by exceptional NBC camera work from helicopters.  It probably helps to have sailed the course, too, but anyone can see the white caps, hear Gary Jobson tell you about the tide and wind speed and see the streets, hills and waterfront of San Francisco in the background. I’m sold.

I was delighted to see the 52-foot wooden yawl Dorade win the 2013 TransPac race, but match-racing in a relatively confined space obviously makes for better viewing than an ocean race.

I admit, meanwhile, that my viewing experience was elevated by seeing Oracle race its own race in Race 4 — the local tactician, John Kostecki, seeming to better read the wind and current — and win one.

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