Sailing through summer

By Michael Raffety


Nothing like sunshine in February to get one thinking about summer, not counting the snow day last week. To my mind the most exciting thing this summer is the America’s Cup Races in San Francisco. Travel columnist John Poimiroo already wrote about some of the preliminary races in a piece that was published in our sports section.

These are not the traditional yacht-like boats with big spinnakers. These are catamarans with sails that look more like aircraft wings. Last summer in preliminaries the races featured 45-foot-long catamarans. This summer for the finals the racers will use 72-foot catamarans. The main sail is called a wing and on the AC72 it is 2,798 square feet, same as a good-sized house. The jib is 861 square feet and there is something called a gennaker that encompasses 3,444 square feet, nearly a McMansion.

How fast are these boats? They are billed as the “world’s fastest,” and will go twice the speed of the wind. Wow, not exactly like the dingy I sailed during sailing class on Lake Merritt when I was at San Francisco State.

The AC72s have an 11-man crew all of whom will have microphones. The boats will have built-in TV cameras and surround sound.

Worried that the America’s Cup would use up every hotel room in the city I booked my rooms in 2011 for 2013. I’ll be covering the cup races two times in August and once in September.

I’m not the only person to plan ahead. The Legion of Honor will have its own yachting event in June, which I also will be covering. Opening June 1, it will be called “Impressionists on Water.” In the Winter/Spring 2013 magazine of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco they use a Monet painting, “Sailboats on the Seine” to illustrate the article about the upcoming show. That painting has been on display in the Legion of Honor in San Francisco’s Lincoln Park.

The show is being put together by three curators, one of whom is a “renowned marine historian.”

The “Impressionists on Water” will feature French Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painters. Besides the collections of FAMSF, the show will include paintings on loan from the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and from private collections.

It’s a big undertaking to arrange loans from around the world, so obviously they have been working on this for a long time. The man who did the Alfred Sisley show last year took about five years to put that one together.

The curators include Christopher Lloyd, former keeper of Queen Elizabeth II’s collection; Phillip Dennis Cate, former director of the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University; and marine historian Daniel Charles. The trio will “illuminate the personal interactions of leading French artists with yachting and more broadly, underscore the important role that access to the sea and extensive inland waterways played in the development of the art, culture and commercial health of France.”

Impressionist art is popular. For the museum it’s a can’t miss softball pitch and a potential home run. It’s another chance to keep the big show crowds going. “The Girl With the Pearl Earring” Dutch painting show continues at the de Young through June 2. Shows like this bring attention and financial rewards to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Between museum visitors and FAMSF membership last year the museums could afford to add nearly 500 new works to their permanent collection.


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