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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

America's Cup: "Team USA" Devoid of Americans

Posted By on Wed, Aug 22, 2012 at 3:52 PM

It's an international raid!
  • It's an international raid!

Glancing out the window here at SF Weekly, we saw a graceful AC45 catamaran featuring a large tricolor on its sail was just towed toward today's race.

Apparently, we are supposed to root against this French interloper into San Francisco's waters, and put our efforts into cheering for the "hometown" squad, Oracle Team USA. "One thing we're really hoping we can rely on is some hometown support," Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill told the Examiner. "There's something about racing at home that gives you a little bit of an advantage."

The notion of San Franciscans going out of their way to root for the corporately branded plaything of yachting billionaire Larry Ellison seems farfetched -- though, who knows? We put our heart and soul behind the 49ers and Giants, and those aren't exactly small-time nonprofits existing solely for the benefit of the community.

What's more counterintuitive, however, is the notion of "home," and, for that matter "Team USA." Spithill, for one, is Australian. His 20 fellow Team USA sailors include six New Zealanders, four Australians, three Dutchmen, two Canadians, a Brit, an Antiguan, an Italian, and a guy with citizenship in New Zealand, Ireland, and Australia.

There are only two Americans, one of whom is a dual citizen of Australia.

click to enlarge Okay, Australian, Kiwi, Brit, Antiguan...
  • Okay, Australian, Kiwi, Brit, Antiguan...
On the one hand, this isn't a bad thing. Team Oracle hires the best professional sailors money can buy, and it obviously scours the globe. So do the San Francisco Giants, who are stocked with Venezuelans at the moment. But, then, the Giants aren't Team USA.

Sailing has a complex view of crew nationality, to put it mildly. The skipper of Team Artemis (Sweden) is American; his crew is composed of the Frenchmen, Kiwis, and Australians seen on any other boat -- along with a guy named Magnus.

Two of the nine sailors listed for Team China are Chinese -- a laughably low percentage, but a better tally than Americans on Team USA. One, Ma Jian, is listed as a "broadcaster," and plays up his experience as a "talent scout and venture negotiator." Perhaps that's how he talked his way on board. The other, Cheung Ying Kit, is listed, vaguely, as a "crew member." His bio notes: "For racing, as a competitor, China Team always aim for the 1st. This Aug 2011, It is his first race at this top level racing. He will do his best on the team and do the result as good as the team can."

Huh. Well, go hometown team. May they do the result as good as the team can.

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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