Marine, merchant leaders thrilled about Cup team's arrival
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for Alameda,” said Encinal Yacht Club Commodore Victor Early.
Early and others said the team’s long-rumored arrival will build excitement for the America’s Cup here and provide visibility for Alameda and its marine community – along with a welcome economic boost when Artemis’s 70 team members and their families come to town.
“We think it’s going to be a very positive thing for all Alameda. But in particular, I think the West End will benefit from people coming over to see the ships, shop on Webster, dine with us, and check out what’s happening on Webster Street,” the West Alameda Business Association’s Carolyn Lantz said.
The team, one of eight competing in America’s Cup races set to take place in San Francisco in 2012 and 2013, signed a three-month lease on a 110,000-square foot former airplane hangar on Alameda Point that could be extended for up to a year, Community Development Director Lori Taylor said. Taylor said the hangar will be the team’s base of operations while they work on their vessel and get familiar with the waters of San Francisco Bay
She said she believes Alameda is the first city outside San Francisco to be selected as a home base for one of the Cup teams.
Taylor said one of the team’s members had worked here in Alameda and was familiar with the resources it has to offer. And she said members of the city’s America’s Cup committee have been actively talking up Alameda as a destination for teams and spectators, even attending America’s Cup World Series races in San Diego.
Sean Svendsen of Svendsen’s Boat Works served as another connection point for the team: He said he’s friends with its chief operating officer, and that he showed the team some sites including Alameda Point back in 2011.
Svendsen said getting the team to come here is good for Alameda and for the Island’s visibility. He said the Cup teams’ vessels are highly specialized, but that the team may need a few basic supplies while they’re in town.
“There’s a likelihood that they will need to purchase supplies and equipment locally,” Svendsen said. “(Cup defender) ORACLE Racing has an account with us, and they do buy some things from us. “We’re hoping Artemis will do the same.”
Early said the team reached out to his club to seek help finding one-year home rentals for team members.
Taylor, who said she’s hopeful the team’s stay will help boost local maritime, catering and other business, said she thinks its presence will draw attention to Alameda’s maritime community and build excitement around what’s been billed as the most prestigious event in sailing for an American audience that isn’t familiar with the Cup.
“We have an active sailing community, and I think it just helps put us on the map,” Taylor said.
The commodores of three of Alameda’s seven yacht clubs said they think the team’s arrival will boost excitement about the Cup on this side of the Bay and will serve as a draw for mariners visiting to watch Cup races.
“It’s involving this side of the Bay. It’s not all San Francisco now,” Aeolian Yacht Club Commodore Brian Aylen said.
Aylen said he has put out calls for volunteers to serve as race marshals and in other jobs that have mostly involved yacht clubs in San Francisco and Sausalito. But today’s announcement will boost interest in Alameda’s clubs, he said.
Island Yacht Club Staff Commodore Dave Bloch, who also serves on the city’s America’s Cup committee, said Alameda club leaders have been meeting to ensure they’re connected with the city’s efforts to be involved in the Cup action. He said the clubs want to make sure off-Island sailors feel welcome.
“What we can do as clubs is, have them come to this place and see races for three hours a day – and when they leave here, say, ‘Wow, we had a good time. We want to go back there,’” Bloch said.
Related: America’s Cup team coming to Alameda