I have been in the San Francisco Bay a few times – on ferries and in small craft. And the Golden Gate bridge, Alctraz, the glorious piers, the Presidio, and the SF downtown skyline usually dominate your senses.
Amazingly yesterday afternoon they were bit actors in a technology dominated few hours.
Thanks to Oracle, we were in a Protector high-speed boat (capable of getting upto 40 knots). Could have comfortably sat another 4 besides us 6. Needless to say, I was a kid in a candy store and asked Barry, the captain all kinds of questions about navigation charts and GPS and wakes at high speed.
This being Fleet Week in SF, we saw all kinds of vessels like the amphibious assault ship, USS Makin Island with several helicopters on its deck, a massive NYK container vessel setting sail (presumably) to Japan, the twin Coast Guard cutters, Sockeye and Tern, which Barry said patrol these waters quite often, their guns mercifully pointed downwards.
Fleet Week also brings the Blue Angels with their F-18 Hornets to the Bay Area, and they did several acrobatic formations and fly-bys.
Wait! Those were still not the main attraction. It was the Fleet prep races for next year’s America’s Cup. Sailing greats Ben Ainslie, Russell Coutts and Jimmy Spithill competed in their advanced hull and tailsail beauties. We got to see the massive, deconstructed Oracle Racing carbon fiber hull and sails later at Pier 80.
What was less visible was the technology that is going into videotaping and the sensors that are helping track every aspect of the teams’ performance. A helicopter with a remote controlled HD camera (not the consumer kind, worth over half a million dollars) hovered above the race and for future broadcasts will have an augmented reality system for fan guidance like the football yellow lines.
Before we left for the water, Oracle gave us a nice tour of the technology and the history of America’s Cup. They also thoughtfully gave us the nice windbreaker in photo above essential for the always chilly Bay.
You can see how the Golden Gate bridge became just a minor side show for the afternoon. That’s saying something!
Photo Credit of sail boats – Oracle Racing