Oracle RC44 Cup San Diego:
A Model for America's Cup Races

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RC44's in San Diego: Prelude to an AC45 Event?
Talking with John Laun

March 5, 2011


Photo:©2011 Gilles Martin-Raget/Oracle Racing. Click image for photo gallery


Broadway Pier was the popular spot.
Photo:©2011 Peter Howson/

It looks like an RC44 regatta.  It acts like an RC44 regatta.  But really, it isn’t just an RC44 regatta.

The West Coast stop of the international yacht racing circuit is a chance for organizers to show the America’s Cup Event Authority that San Diego has what it takes to stage a first-rate event in the run up to the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco in 2013.

John Laun, President of the Sailing Events Association, the event organizer for the San Diego edition of the RC44 circuit, knows what’s at stake for San Diego.

“We formed the Sailing Events Association specifically for this sort of event,” said Laun, hosting races that brings sailing right to the city waterfront.

“We want to make it a spectator event that people can enjoy and to energize the San Diego community around sailing.  We hope it will bring people from all over the West Coast and even the country to enjoy the beautiful scenery, the weather and to enjoy first class sailing. 

“This is our first event and it’s exactly on spec for what we want; it’s spectator-friendly and it’s exciting.  We have the benefit of strong support from local government, including the Unified Port of San Diego, which made the Broadway Pier venue possible for us. 

“The venue and the accompanying cruise ship terminal is the core of our proposal to the America’s Cup Event Authority, so we don’t see this as a one-shot deal -- we see this as proof that we can put on a world-class international sailing event in San Diego that requires infrastructure, organization, and venue. 

“So we’ve made proposals for the fall of this year or spring of next year, which would be an AC45 regatta.”

One of the concerns about having the America’s Cup in San Francisco is the prospect of the venerable event encountering a television first; a commercial shipping timeout.  While Laun acknowledges the issue, he has also figured out to solve it by planning ahead.

“The sailing we typically do in San Diego is offshore, so the only issue we have is other boats on the race course that are also racing.  Here, we’ve got a lot of other things going on: spectator boats, Navy boats, commercial shipping, and ferries.  We had to suspend racing on Friday to let one large Navy ship come in, but we knew about that so it gave the crews a half-hour lunch break.”

While it’s one thing to conduct a bay race with 11 RC44s; it may be another thing entirely to have that many AC45 catamarans -- or AC72s -- vying for space at speeds exceeding 20 knots in what can only be described as a rather confined space, but Laun relishes the possibility.

“We think that even the AC catamarans can race in the bay, and if we can do that, we think the spectacle will be unbelievable -- along the Embarcadero, the Broadway Pier, the cruise ship terminal and all along Harbor Island, the view would be spectacular.  So while I think a fleet race in the bay with the AC72s would be a challenge because it would be so fast, we’d love to try.”

--Diane Swintal/©2011 CupInfo

Links of Interest:

At CupInfo: (Nov 2011) Hosting the ACWS in San Diego: Interview with John Laun

RC44 website:


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