From the Boathouse: The race is on for America's Cup


I missed all the festivities in the Southern California waterways on the Fourth, as I was visiting Discovery Bay and the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta aboard a Mainship yacht. The air temperatures were over 100 degrees, which made for great boating and swimming. However, I thought that the bay and delta were not very busy on the Fourth and the weekend, and there are a few vacant slips at the marina.

However, I did notice a boat from Dana Point and two boats from Newport Harbor that I believe I skippered when the vessels were located in Southern California harbors. I would recommend boaters to visit the waterways to our north, but carry your charts and have the correct chart cartridge in your GPS. It is very easy to be confused with the vast number of channels as to which channel to transit to your destination because of the lack of navigational markers.

I did notice the America's Cup boats sailing in San Francisco Bay on Tuesday as I was heading home from the Bay Area. To have the America's Cup challenge on the West Coast is very exciting, and you might not want to miss the opportunity to watch and join in the activities. These are fast, very fast boats with amazing advanced technological designs that have advanced the world of sailing.

However, as can be expected from prior America's Cup challenges, the race is never without a dispute from at least one team, if not a couple of teams, and the Luna Rossa boycotted its first race that was scheduled last Sunday against Emirates Team New Zealand. The Luna Rossa is for Italy and racing through the Circolo della Vela Sicilia yacht club.

The Louis Vuitton Cup is the challenge series to determine which team will race the defender, Oracle Team USA, for the America's Cup. The Louis Vuitton Cup races began July 4 and will continue through Sept. 1. Then the America's Cup finals start Sept. 7, with races on and off until Sept. 21, and I will be watching and reporting from the media center for a few of the final races. These are very fast and exciting races that you can watch, as the courses are set for the public to view from shore. I highly recommend, if you are visiting San Francisco, to watch a race and visit the America's Cup Park, America's Cup Village or America's Cup Pavilion. Parking is difficult in these areas, so ride public transportation or take a cab, and for detailing directions and event schedules, go to

Since we are on the topic of sailing, the tip of the week is for every boater, whether under power, sail, paddle or steam, to make safe passage through the harbor, especially with the sailboats in the summer classes and races.

First, all three of Orange County's harbors are open to everyone, and technically, no one can block any portion of navigable waters unless granted a special event permit by the United States Coast Guard or in an emergency.

With that said, I have noticed that most sailing programs and races are leaving room between their buoys and the shore for "sea room" passage by other vessels transiting the waterways. However, in a few instances, I have been blocked, not by the racers, but by the committee or spectator boats drifting into the passage lanes.

All boaters cruising through the harbor need to plan ahead and try to avoid the sailing course by planning a course outside of the markers, but sometimes this is not possible. In this case, both the racers and cruising boats abide by the rules of the road for safe passage. Additionally, please watch for the novice sailor who may lose control and drift in front of your vessel. The sailors do not need to be waving and yelling for the boat to move, and harsh words do not need to be exchanged. Everybody should stay calm and try to get the vessel through the fleet without tempers flaring. Everyone needs to be courteous and proceed underway as prescribed by maritime law. Seamanship and good sportsmanship are what we need to be instilling as boaters, and there will always be another day, I hope.

Please be boat smart and boat safe. Lastly, please boat responsively and look behind you before the turn the wheel at the helm.

Tune in to the No. 1 boating radio talk show in the nation, "Boathouse Radio Show," broadcasting live coast-to-coast on the CRN Digital Talk Radio syndicated network. See times at, and

Safe voyages!

MIKE WHITEHEAD is a boating columnist for the Daily Pilot. Send marine-related thoughts and story suggestions to or go to

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