Although it has been popular internationally, The Americas Cup has never been a major draw for spectators and yachting enthusiasts in the United States.
Now with race being hosted in the San Francisco Bay Area for the first time, taking place over several weeks in Summer and Autumn of 2013 the people of San Francisco and the outlying counties are banking on hopes that that will change, and that hundreds of thousands of people will come to San Francisco to view the event.
Port of Redwood City Director Mike Giari and Harbour Master Rich Ferrari told Katie Worth a reporter with the San Francisco Examiner that superyachts will be welcome at the port of Redwood City and neighbouring harbours.
Port leaders are exploring ways to attract yachts to their harbour during the America’s Cup sailing race. It’s just one of several San Mateo County institutions seeking ways to profit off the event.
If all goes as county leaders hope, the international sailing event will help fill county hotels and bayside marinas to capacity, and bring business to fishermen turned ferrymen.
An early economic study by Beacon Economics estimated that the event could bring some $1.4 billion in economic activity to the region — just more than half of which would be spent in San Francisco.
“Our job is to put visitors in hotel rooms, and of course have them dining locally and spending money locally,” Anne LeClair, president of the San Mateo County/Silicon Valley Conventions and Visitors Bureau said.
With San Francisco hotels already filling up, those nearby must position themselves to take the overflow — and not just of race visitors, but of anyone who finds it difficult or costly to secure a hotel room in the City.
County marinas also are hoping to fill their vacancies with mariners who witness the action from the water, said Peter Grenell, general manager of the San Mateo County Harbor District, which operates Oyster Point Harbor Marina in South San Francisco.
“Oyster Point is currently 77 percent occupied, so if we can increase that occupancy, that would be a good thing,” Grenell said. “A lot of the other harbors — if not all of them — are thinking along similar lines.”
That is exactly what Redwood City port director Mike Giari is thinking — only on a very large scale.
“We have some berths that would be able to accommodate boats in the 100-foot to 250-foot category,” he said.
Giari noted there has been controversy in San Francisco about whether to allow such mega-yachts to moor on the public waterfront. No such controversy would exist at his port.
The county’s fishermen and charter boat operators may also make a buck off the event, Grenell said. Some fishermen and charter operators have expressed interest in ferrying visitors up to San Francisco, or securing charters to take people to see the event up close.
“Right now, Oyster Point doesn’t have any charter boats, but I’ve spoken with some folks from Pillar Point in Half Moon Bay and it’s conceivable they may want to come over to Oyster Point for a while,” he said. “They’re definitely following the whole America’s Cup buildup.