The new breed of catamaran pushed by Larry Ellison for the America’s Cup can turn on a dime and tach out at more than 30 knots. Teams in the race reportedly have to pay $1.8 million for the design and materials for this boat, the so-called AC72. Meanwhile, the fastest clipper ships of the 18th century could achieve only about half that speed, and they cost a whole lot less to build. While you might never get anywhere near Ellison’s boat, this weekend you can ride one of two big sailing ships visiting San Francisco. The clippers Lady Washington and Hawaiian Chieftain are open for tours and sailing trips on the bay. Both are replicas of historical vessels that travel to ports on the West Coast. The original Lady Washington was a cargo ship built by the British in 1750. During the revolution, she became an American privateer. After the war -- and a major refit -- she became the first American ship to travel around Cape Horn and land on the West Coast, and she later was the first U.S. vessel to visit Hawaii, Hong Kong, and Japan. The new Lady Washington, built in 1989, is 112 feet long, weighs 210 tons, and has a mast height of 89 feet. She also has been in pictures -- she was the HMS Interceptor from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl and the brig ship Enterprise from the opening sequences of Star Trek: Generations.
March 9-19, 2012