Sep 30, 2013

America's Cup: Wrapup Statistics

The 2013 America’s Cup was a revolution in the sport, bringing the racing to the fans and then delivering fantastic 50 mph boats, enthralling racing, ground-breaking television graphics and the sports comeback story of the century.

Here are the numbers behind the event:
  • 203 countries broadcast the America’s Cup on television
  • America's Cup broadcast in news bulletins globally 15,000 times
  • Over 320,000 downloads of the America’s Cup app
  • Over 1 million visitors to the official public sites in San Francisco at America’s Cup Park and America’s Cup Village. Hundreds of thousands more viewed the racing from the city front
  • Nearly 10,000 hospitality guests
  • Over 5 million unique visitors to in September and over 45-million page views during the Summer of Racing (July 1 to September 26)
  • 24.8 million views of videos on YouTube
  • Over 100 million minutes of videos viewed in the past month
  • 575 accredited media, from 32 countries
  • A 19 show America's Cup Concert Series
  • Over 25% of the population of New Zealand watched the racing broadcast live during the America’s Cup Finals

Sep 19, 2013

An America's Cup Day in San Francisco

View from the restaurant yesterday. The Emirates boat is leading.
My day yesterday was all about America's Cup, and what a day it was. Unusually hot in San Francisco, not a cloud in the sky or a whisper of fog poking through the Golden Gate (also unusual). Really stunning weather.

My friend Lee had invited me to a three-hour morning cruise aboard USA 76, the very boat used by Oracle Racing in 2003 when competing for the America's Cup (she won 21 races in the Louis Vuitton challenger series). Eighty-four feet of carbon fiber, with a mast eleven stories high and nearly 6,000 square feet of sail, USA 76 is sleek and sexy as can be.

Sailing on such a ship is a rare and exciting experience, though it may not be for everyone. This is a racing ship: no cabins below, not even a bathroom. Bags and backpacks are stored out of the way of feet, so that nobody tips over the side and disappears into the Bay. When tacking, passengers must move from one side of the boat to the other, not always easy. You'll be perching on rails (there are no seats). But if you love sailing, this adventure is great! You're welcome to assist in the sail; I got to work the grinders for a bit, though my technique was nothing like the sailors competing for America's Cup. You can book a sail on USA 76 at their website,

Anyway, we cruised out under the Golden Gate Bridge and then, heading back the other way, sailed past Pier 27, where the temporary America's Cup Village is set up. Both the Oracle and Emirates boats were docked, poised to move within minutes to the starting point near the Golden Gate Bridge, where the race was scheduled to begin at 1:15.

Our sail ended about noon. We docked back at Pier 39's Gate B and then strolled over to Players Sports Grill. Located in the back of the Pier 39 complex, it offers very good food and an unobstructed view of the Bay from its Luau Lounge (which has a beach-combing, tiki kind of feel). Light-as-air crab cakes, followed by seared Ahi tuna atop mixed greens, avocado and other goodies for me; Lee went with the Crab Louis. I opted for a glass of Buena Vista Pinot; he liked the Sterling Sauvignon Blanc. Excellent meal on all accounts.

And then the race started. All the TVs in the Luau Lounge sprang to life, and for a while we followed the race on the screen. Then the boats appeared outside the windows, to the west and heading in our direction. Player's windows were open to the air, and we could see those boats a-coming, getting closer and closer. They are massive and somewhat scary-looking with their towering, rigid sails.

Everybody in the Lounge was whooping and screaming; at one point I was leaning out the window shouting "Go, baby, go!" We had an incredible view--right before us--of the mark roundings. For a moment Oracle seemed to be ahead, but by the time the marks had been rounded and the boats headed back to the Golden Gate Yacht Club and the end point, Emirates had pulled ahead.

And stayed ahead.

Another race was scheduled for 3:15, but the wind came up and it had to be cancelled.

If Emirates wins today, the 34th America's Cup will be over. Emirates currently has 8 wins, Oracle Team USA has 1--and the first to win 9 points takes the Cup.

Two races are scheduled for today, at 1:15 and, if necessary, at 2:15.

If by some chance you're in San Francisco today, head over to America's Cup Village at Pier 27. Entry is free, and the excitement today will be palpable. Check out the lineup of mega-million-dollar yachts (one said to belong to a Google co-founder, and another is Larry Ellison's). And for the not-too-inflated price of a glass of wine, bottle of beer or split of Mumm's champagne, you can luxuriate like a pasha on a plush modern couch in an open-air lounge, watching the races and the world go by.

Happy sails to you...

Sep 17, 2013

Homefront Red: This wine honors our troops

 What a great idea this is…

Sonoma County’s Murphy-Goode Winery has introduced a new red blend, 2011 California Homefront Red, to help raise funds for military families and veterans in need. For every bottle sold, $.50 will be donated to Operation Homefront, a national non-profit providing emergency and financial assistance to the families of service members and wounded warriors.

That adds up: Murphy-Goode hopes to raise at least $300,000 for the organization. Since its founding in 2002, Operation Homefront has given more than $170 million dollars to programs that benefit military families. Such programs include Wounded Warrior Wives, food assistance, vision care and more.

As for the wine, it’s a food-friendly and fruit forward blend of Syrah, Merlot, Petit Sirah and Zinfandel aged in French and American Oak. You’ll be blown away by scrumptious black cherry and raspberry flavors with notes of toasted vanilla. Priced about $15/bottle.

If you buy it online from the winery through this coming Friday, September 20, you’ll receive 50-cent shipping rates on all Homefront wines (there’s also a Homefront Cab and a Homefront Cuvee, $55/each). Use the promo code HOMEFRONT when you check out.

Also, Murphy-Goode is sponsoring a contest to win a trip for two to December’s Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, TX. The contest ends October 14, 2013. Visit their Facebook Page to enter.

Sep 4, 2013

Update: Yosemite Rim Fire & Closures

Photo of Rim Fire courtesy of NASA.

If a visit to Yosemite National Park has been part of your late-summer plans, here's a current (9/3/13) update, including closure information, from Yosemite/Mariposa County Tourism Bureau:

All lodges and recreational activities in Yosemite National Park remain fully open and accessible with the exception of White Wolf Lodge and some campgrounds along the Tioga Rd. corridor. Besides smoke, fire impacts are currently mostly confined to the north western corner of the park, and the fire is not currently threatening Yosemite Valley.  Visitor and employee safety is the number one priority. visitors wishing to change or cancel reservations inside Yosemite can call at 801-559-4963.

Currently, the west side of the park, including Yosemite Valley is accessible via Highway 41 through Oakhurst or Highway 140 through Mariposa. The east side of the park, including Tuolumne Meadows and the High Sierra Camps is accessible via Hwy 120 East through Lee Vining.

With the temporary closure of Hwy 120 East from Crane Flat for fire suppression activities, travelers should plan to take alternate routes to reach Yosemite Valley or Tuolumne Meadows.

Closure Information:

Temporary road closures exist on Big Oak Flat Rd./Hwy 120 West from J132, outside the park to Crane Flat within Yosemite National (Hwy 120 East toward Lee Vining remains open), Hetch Hetchy Road, and Evergreen road.

The Tioga Rd/Hwy 120 East is temporarily closed between White Wolf Lodge and the Big Oak Flat Rd./Hwy 120 West at Crane Flat.  This closure is estimated to last at least through the Labor Day weekend (Sep 2).

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge, the High Sierra Camps, and Tuolumne Meadows and Porcupine Flat campgrounds all remain open and accessible from the east. See alternate routes into Yosemite.

While the fire is not anticipated to reach White Wolf, the National Park Service has evacuated the area as a precaution. White Wolf is closed, including the lodge, campground, road, and trails originating from White Wolf. For information regarding your upcoming White Wolf Lodge reservations, please call (801) 559-4884. This area is closed due to smoky conditions.

Hodgdon Meadow Campground and Hetch Hetchy Backpackers' Campground are closed.

Yosemite Creek, Tamarack Flat, and Crane Flat campgrounds are closed. Merced and Tuolumne Groves of Giant Sequoias are closed.

Wilderness hiking trails west of the May Lake Road and May Lake Trail continuing to the junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at Glen Aulin and then north along the PCT to Bond Pass is closed. The park's boundary serves as the closure's northern and western edge extending south to Crane Flat Campground. The closure boundary continues east along the Tioga Road (Highway 120 through the park) to the May Lake Road. The Tioga Road and the trails serving as the eastern boundary of the closed area (including the PCT) remain open. May Lake High Sierra Camp, Glen Aulin High Sierra Camp, and Porcupine Flat Campground are open.