sf-americas-cup.jpgOrganizers of the 2013 sailing race in San Francisco said today that preparations for the race remain on track and recent preliminary races held in Europe indicate the event will be a success.

The America’s Cup World Series races, two of which will be hosted by San Francisco in August and September 2012, began last month in Portugal and continued with races in Plymouth, England last week.

Tom Huston, chief operating officer for the America’s Cup Event Authority, said “the concept for this event has been validated” by the success of those first two races, which featured large crowds similar to those expected on San Francisco’s shorelines.

Huston said more than 115,000 people came out over the course of last week’s races, which he said were “quite exciting” and featured the capsizing of three boats due to strong winds.

The boats “go unbelievably fast … it’s very much like Formula One racing,” he said.

Kyri McClellan, CEO of the San Francisco America’s Cup Organizing Committee, said San Francisco’s environmental review process for the planning of the races is also going “at a really impressive pace.”

McClellan, whose organization is tasked with raising the funding necessary to stage the races in 2012 and 2013, has to raise $12 million by the end of the environmental review process, which will end later this year, and about $40 million by the time the races start.

She said “we feel very well-positioned” in reaching the committee’s fundraising goals, but declined to say how much had been raised.

As for the environmental review document itself, Mike Martin, director of the America’s Cup project for the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, said more than 1,300 public comments were received about the plans for the races.

Martin said that showed “people are really willing to engage with us.”

Some of the issues brought up when the Planning Commission held a hearing on the America’s Cup plans last month included whether marine life in the Bay will be affected and whether merchants at the Ferry Building would be impacted by the proposed closure of the Embarcadero during the races.

The responses to the comments will be published in November, and then the city’s Planning Commission will determine whether to certify the environmental impact report, Martin said.

Along with the two America’s Cup World Series events in 2012, San Francisco is also hosting the Louis Vuitton Cup in July 2013, which will decide who will face the U.S.-based Oracle Racing team in the America’s Cup Finals in San Francisco in September 2013.

For the latest updates on the America’s Cup World Series races visit www.americascup.com, and for the latest update on San Francisco’s planning process, visit www.americascup.com/sanfrancisco.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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