Replica of first yacht to win America's Cup in SF Bay

June 17, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
A full size replica of the first yacht to win the America's Cup is docked in San Francisco Bay. It is named, appropriately enough, "America" and it is here to help celebrate and publicize the next America's Cup race coming to San Francisco in 2013, and you can do more than just get a good look at it.

In the rain a little bit of history sailed into San Francisco Bay and it is tied up alongside the Golden Gate Yacht Club. The Yacht America is not the 1850 original, but a reproduction of the first yacht to ever win the America's Cup.

"The boat is very true to its original size. So it's an exact one to one replica, of how the boat would've sailed in 1851," said Yacht America owner Troy Sears. Sears showed ABC7 around. "The boat is entirely a wooden boat just like it was in 1851; all the winches are all manually operated just as they should be."

The original America was scrapped after it was severely damaged in the 1940s. Sears bought this 1995 remake six years ago and he brought it to the site of the next America's Cup, figuring people will be willing to pay to go for a sail.

"There is something special about getting on this boat and sailing out under the bridge and having that historical tie, while watching the modern technology but being on what was state of the art 150 years ago that started the whole America's Cup," said Sears.

And 150 years ago, the original America was state of the art, though now it seems incredibly opulent for a race boat.

"Today a modern racing boat would try and remove every ounce it could to maximize its performance," said Sears.

But in the 19th century, race boats came with solons. Galleys capable of producing a banquet, pantries to hold a month's worth of meals, and staterooms with private baths or showers.

"We have six showers on the boat," said Sears.

Not your modern race boat, but in its day, America was no less a technological marvel than Larry Ellison's winning trimaran.

In 1851, a narrow bow and a wide stern was exactly opposite from the norm. The Royal British Yacht squadron was all blunt-nosed boats.

"In fact, they felt the boat was backwards, and everyone felt if that boat's right, then we're all wrong," said Sears.

The British were all wrong and even 20 years later the Brits couldn't beat America.

This summer as the modern day America's Cup teams practice on the bay in high-speed catamarans, Troy Sears hoping that boat loads of spectators will want to be on his replica, watching the action.

"We're not a tour operator, we're not a bay cruise, we are an experience. We want to connect people to the experience of the America's Cup," said Sears.

If you want, that means hoisting the sails to the top of the 100 foot mast, grinding the winches, hauling the lines.

"If they want to clean the boat afterwards we'll be happy to let them do it," said Sears.

It costs around $75 for a two to three hour sail and Sears says he plans to be on the water and open for business this month.

"I think as long as there is local demand for me to be here, I'll be here," said Sears.

He'll definitely be here for the America's Cup in 2013. Sears says he hasn't missed one of those in at quarter century.


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