From September 7th through September 14th, San Francisco will host the 34th annual America’s Cup, the world’s oldest and most prestigious sailing event. The race, which is back in the USA for the first time since 1995, is not only a grand test of athleticism, sailing prowess and nautical design, but also in fund-raising and management skills. Indeed, the second week of September will draw many of the world’s Olympic sailors, top yacht designers, entrepreneurs and sponsors to the city by the bay.
The America’s Cup races are steeped in history, dating back to the Royal Yacht Squadron’s Annual Regatta around the Isle of Wight in 1851. An unusual looking Schooner named America, owned by the fledgling New York Yacht Club (NYYC), unexpectedly emerged from the mist, surpassed all 15 yachts of the Royal Yacht Squadron and came out to win the trophy. The trophy was later renamed America’s Cup and since the 1850s, has been held in trust as a perpetual challenge trophy to promote friendly competition among sailing nations.
The 2013 America’s Cup pits Oracle Team USA against challenger Emirates Team New Zealand, who clinched the Louis Vuitton challenger series 7-1, in what will undoubtedly be a close and exciting match. This year’s competition will be raced in AC72 wing-sail catamarans, newly designed vessels that have the ability to hydrofoil. This means that when the boat reaches a certain speed, both hulls will clear the water and spectators will see the boats literally “fly” across the water at points during the races.
Check out the race schedule and grab tickets for top viewing spots like the rooftop at Pier 39. For a more high-brow experience, sip on Moet Chandon Imperial and nibble on Dungeness Crab bites with the “Smooth Sailing” package at the famous “Top of the Mark” atop the Mark Hopkins Hotel in Nob Hill.
If your loyalties lie Kiwi-side, head to Waiheke Island Yacht Club off Pier 29 where restaurateur Tony Stewart has launched a pop-up restaurant serving New Zealand fair or Waterbar, featuring Cloudy Bay clams—Diamond Shell, Storm Clam, Tua Tua and the Moon Shell—flown in fresh each day from NZ.
Waiheke Island Yacht Club
If you prefer to catch the action from the water’s edge, shoreline viewing tickets ($25) are also available, though you don’t necessarily need to be at the waterfront to see the race. Enjoying the good wine and good company while viewing the race from a friend’s rooftop in Pacific Heights, Russian Hill or Nob Hill is a smart way to avoid the crowds.
America’s Cup is certainly not the only draw to San Francisco in the early fall. Across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County is Muir Woods National Monument — a hiking mecca. Pick from a number of trailways, but to work up a healthy sweat take Steep Ravine for a long, challenging trek toward the ocean cliffs. Seven miles of fresh pine smelling air, the inviting and protective shadows of enormous redwoods, and no humidity acts like a full body elixir—and the Pacific views at the end is icing on the cake. After your forest adventure, rest at nearby Muir Beach and watch the sun set.
Muir Woods Trails
San Francisco is also a mecca for locavores. Most restaurants in San Francisco tout their local and organic ingredients and have plenty of choices for all discerning palates—herbivore or carnivore. Rich Table – a cozy, rustic spot particularly stands out among the farm-to-table set. Entrée offerings here change regularly, but a few sides and small dishes are must-try mainstays. Among them are the porcini mushrooms – savory and croissant-textured muffins infused with mushroom flavor. Also among them are surprisingly, the beets, though it’s a bit tough at first to eat this work of art. Rich burgundy beets juxtaposed against beaming yellow sunflower petals in a perfectly round dish is first a delight to the eyes and then a treat for the palette. You may be overcome with the urge to Instagram.
For brunch, head to Park Tavern with a group and be sure to start with Spicy Bloody Mary’s, Avocado Bread and Nut Butters. For entrees, the Deviled Egg sandwich is absolutely delicious while the Fluffy Buttermilk pancakes and decadent French toast are the perfect cure for last night’s indulgences.
Presidio Social Club
Presidio Social Club
Getting back to the sailing theme, the Presidio Social Club, in the historic Presdio near Golden Gate Bridge, is getting in “the spirit” with nautical libations and bar bites in honor of the America’s Cup. The specialty menu appropriately features Rum, with drinks like the Pitti Punch, a cocktail straight from Antigua Race Week made with Mt. Gay Black Barrel Rum, sugar, and lime juice, a Bumbo, a mixture of Flor de Cana rum, nutmeg syrup, and coconut water served chilled and up, or the post-race classic Sail Reefer, a shot of Mt. Gay Rum and a Red Stripe Beer. Built in a 1903 military barracks in San Francisco’s Presidio National Park, the Social Club may not boast great Cup views, but it’s close enough to the water to have become a popular post-sailing hangout.