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 The USA 76 sailing across the bay; the crew onboard.

America’s Cup B.C. (Before the Cheesiness)

The closer we get to 2013, the more tacky souvenirs and meaningless PR stunts to get the world riled up about the America’s Cup we’re likely to see. But two American sailing figures have joined together to offer a more tasteful introduction to the big event: rides on the Bay on retired America’s Cup yachts. This month, they’ll actually be racing veteran vessels—and allowing people to come along for the ride. Brad Webb, a New Zealand native who now lives in San Jose, was a bowman on the 2003 America’s Cup runner-up boat, which he now co-owns, and the bowman on the winning boat last year. The 2003 vessel, the USA 76, was “just sitting shrink-wrapped on a base,” he says, when he dusted off the cobwebs to bring it to port at Pier 39. Troy Sears, Webb’s business partner and owner of the charter company Next Level Sailing, is sponsoring the America, the world’s only replica of the yacht that won the very first America’s Cup race, in 1851, as well as one or more other Cup-veteran boats. You can charter the boats (along with a crew) for two or three hours, for either a race or a casual sail. One small request: Please refrain from turning the snapshot of you at the helm into a T-shirt or a mug. For more information, visit