It's a publicity perfect storm. The World Series drew a pretty good size crowd all on its own last month when it had its first San Francisco regatta. But next week brings both Fleet Week and the Hardly Strictly Festival, and the Giants have also made the playoffs. You couldn't pick a better week for drawing a big audience to the city.
As the teams practiced out on the bay Wednesday afternoon, the director of next weeks' regatta explained some of the things they are doing to build an audience for this kind of yacht racing. "The fact that we go around the world, we go to lots of different countries, we broadcast regularly across the world live," Lain Murray said.
Murray says the interest outside the United States is there already. Building an audience in San Francisco is just a matter of getting people to watch this new type of racing. "We have to captivate their imagination and we probably get one shot. If they see it and like it, they'll come back and if they don't, they won't," he said.
So, this next week is an important one for the America's Cup organizers, the teams, and the city of San Francisco. "This time they're going to be in a crowded field of many events that are going to bring people to the waterfront and expose even more people who've never seen these races before and can feel the same excitement I felt when I saw the boats coming across the finish line," Mayor Ed Lee said.
On Wednesday, three big cruise ships tied up in San Francisco. Tens of thousands of tourists headed out to see the sights. "We really wanted to see the aquarium, Golden Gate Bridge," one woman said. "My request was I've got to see Alcatraz," a man said. Not a lot of folks said anything about going to watch the yacht race. Asked if they'd consider coming back for the big America's Cup next September said, "I think I would. Larry Ellison will probably be there right?"
Some people said they had no interest in watching the race, but they'll still be in the city. Maybe if they see the yachts, they'll catch the bug. That's, at least, part of the plan.