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Thread: A Change of Venue: Aquatic Park The New It Spot?

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    A Change of Venue: Aquatic Park The New It Spot?

    SF’s Aquatic Park, on the platter as a venue alternative A in SF’s rapidly evolving waterfront

    Launching the F-18’s at Aquatic Park photo Courtesy StFYC

    A Change of Venue

    In case you weren’t paying close attention this weekend, The SF NOOD’s were hosted by the StFYC, located in the SF Marina, which is undergoing a major overhaul. Needless to say, dock space is currently at a premium in the marina during this process, although they intend to have phase 1 completed by the end of October. Big Boat Series hosting will be “ interesting” this year to put it politely

    Part of the NOOD’s fleet this year, like last years included a fleet of 18’ Catamarans, classified as F-18’s. Part of the appeal of beach cats like the 18’s is the simplicity in launching and the sands of Crissy are nearly taylor made with a side shore launch, wind right off the beach, short transport etc. Indeed many a beach launch fleet has used Crissy as the venue of choice over the past couple decades, even prior to the NPS’ control. But things are changing.

    Dollies Wanted Courtesy StFYC

    Aquatic Park, constructed in 1936 as a protected multi-use facility, has suddenly become the venue of now. In part by desire and in part by the gradual weaning of high profile events from Crissy Field by the National Park Service itself. It appears that the NPS is rolling out the out the red carpet for sailors to host events of a certain size , or at least the launching of craft from Aquatic Park while short sheeting the beds at Crissy.

    David Wells, part of the team instrumental in bringing the 2010 US Windsurfing Nationals to San Francisco last summer’s, as well as the upcoming October 2011 Battle Of The Bay SUP Contest looking to leverage this iconic park had this to say. “Crissy Field is no doubt one of the premier sailing and water sports event venues in the world. However the Park’s hesitancy to allow commercialization (like signage or vendor tents, at these events has essentially precluded from being used. ” Wells goes on to say “It’s a bit frustrating too. With Parks across the country hanging by a thread it seems that a more balanced approach to blending the apparent need for the parks to be self funding would be embraced. It’s hard to see another Nationals event there in the current climate; and that’s a really sad thing.”

    You can check out for your self the current ‘Use Case Guidelines’ for the park at the following link. This info already appears to be a bit dated with rumors swirling of a recently released escalation in the prices for permits in concert with stronger restrictions against commercial advertisements, i.e. sponsors banners.

    Scenes like this, the 2009 SAP 5o5 Worlds may be a relic of the past

    The bottom line is Crissy Field is becoming increasingly more and more difficult for event organizers to gain access to. On the other hand, at least for now, Aquatic Park is open for business. The local 18’ skiff fleet was eyeballing the facility as a possible launch site during the ASL events held a couple years ago at Pier 39. Although those hopes fell through, a trial event was held a few weeks ago via the GGYC with great success. The NPS personnel were very congenial and interested and even reserved parking for the competitor at the bottom of Van Ness. “It was warm and out of the wind, the rigging was easy and the Park Officials were stoked to have us there” Says Skip McCormack, one of the event organizers.

    The sentiment was reflected by Phillipe Meredith, skipper of High Wire in the F-18 Class. “They really went out of their way for us, roping off areas, providing security and both the StFYC and NPS had personnel around all day to assist in any details. They even had 2 port-a-loos brought in just for the 18 sailors. Unlike last year at Crissy, where we were pretty much on our own. We felt like rock stars”

    Philippe Meredith and crew on High Wire

    “In addition, there was great communication between the RC and the beach, letting the sailors know just when things were ready, and the start of the course was just outside the entrance. It all worked out pretty well” Phillipe adds. On the needs improvement side, as opposed to the lighter 18’s skiffs, which get lifted and carried to the beach, the F-18’s need to be dollied down, and the existing facilities were not conducive to that, however Peter Lane, StFYC’s man on the beach was already taking notes and drawing up plans for temporary ramps to be in place for further events. Then there is the wind;

    While the rigging area in nicely sheltered and wind protected, the harbor itself vacillates wildly in both direction and velocity, making entrances and exits quite an exercise in and of itself. Then add swimmers...

    The park is home to S.F.’s largest contingent of Bay Swimmers and by all rights, they have made the waters pretty much their own, and really don’t expect a slew of dinghy’s or beach cats coming and going. And while racing pas postponed Saturday to allow the swimmers from Alcatraz to finish their Previously organized swim, Sunday’s free swim created more interesting situations.

    The Park Service requested the sailors to stay on 4-5 knots, but if you ever have been on a catamaran which gets hit with a 20 knot gust with a 60 degree change of direction, you know that’s just about impossible. And the entrance into the bay proper can be a bit of a challenge, even without traffic hugging the wall just outside, some sort of shepherding seems to be on the must do list, to prevent collisions. Overall, the two groups which have utilized the facility give it a thumb ‘s up, and with a little tweaking, Aquatic Park may soon become the IT spot for beach launched activities.

    Little Marina Green, will also vie for hosting National and International Events

    Also on the radar,” Little Marina Green” the City of SF owned grass just west of the SF Marina. “ They’re doing every thing to make life as easy as possible for events there” David Wells says” and it works well in a lot of regards, wind break, grass rigging area, much fewer dogs. The fees are substantially lower and the sponsors banners are free to fly”. The area lends itself to windsurfers and paddle boards which can negotiate the tricky launch, kite-boards and dinghies would have more of a challenge however. “We totally understand the NPS need to protect the crown jewel that Crissy field is.” Continues Wells. “We just hope that a tasteful middle road can be reached that will once again allow for Crissy to shine and the NPS to meet its mission.”
    Last edited by Photoboy; 06-28-2011 at 05:32 PM.
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