The invitation came late on a Saturday afternoon to attend the Louis Vuitton Cup finals of the 34th America's Cup series in San Francisco the following day. The information was rather vague, but we were told to be prepared to go out on the racecourse on the Louis Vuitton-sponsored boat and wear tennis shoes and a warm jacket. Did that mean we would be on board one of the futuristic catamarans with their overpowering sails as part of a crew? Since none of us had any sailing ability, that was doubtful; but the looming question of "what to wear?" kept me up half the night. After all, it was sort of a fashion event with participants from Louis Vuitton and Prada, whose sponsored catamaran was in the finals.
Nautical is not part of my wardrobe vocabulary, and I don't own Vuitton or Prada, so my game plan was to work around a pair of Ed Hardy fish-printed tennis shoes paired with basic black with an edge. I decided to layer a long sleeve mesh top over a black tank, worn with loose fitting black pin stripe pants. My three-quarter length black French duster with appliquéd, colored numbers on the sides, and a high low effect in the back, completed the ensemble.
We arrived early for the race and the San Francisco Bay was gleaming with calm water and blue skies. Since we had some time, we drove down to the lower piers that house the big catamarans, and spotted crewmembers preparing for the race. Arrangements had been made to meet a representative at Pier 19 to park our car and get our passes. The tickets were sleek: a 3-part, folded box that had a Louis Vuitton look to it. Inside was a VIP pass to Club 72, which is the Official Hospitality Partner of the America's Cup. This facility was built to give the best vantage point for watching the races in a luxurious setting. The America's Cup Park has transformed Piers 27 and 29 with retail stores, featuring Louis Vuitton, Puma and Oracle Team USA. There is an exhibit called Flying on Water, an interactive and educational experience about the history of the America's Cup. A large area has been designed for visitors to enjoy food and beverages, including the Napa Valley Wine Lounge, Flute Bar and Lounge by Mumm Napa, the Nepresso Café and a beer garden. Most of the areas have free public access and offer unusual seating, such as black beanbags, to stretch out on. The America’s Cup Pavilion is a 9,000-seat amphitheatre that hosted 20 summer concerts, along with family entertainment.
Let the Race Begin!
An hour before the race started, we boarded a double-decker yacht called the Chardonnay, which was birthed next to the loading area of the Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) and the Italian Prada Luna Rossa crew. As the two teams headed for the starting line, I waved flags from both countries, trying not to show any favoritism, but I must say the Italian sailors looked very fit.
The Chardonnay sailed the racecourse while guests were treated to amazing views of San Francisco and delicious food and drink. We were able to get very close to the racing teams and their seven-ton crafts, while they lifted out of the water as if they were flying. Unfortunately, fog came rolling in under the Golden Gate just as the race started. Viewing the race was challenging, but the closed circuit TV on the upper deck let us know who won the Cup. The Kiwis of Emirates Team New Zealand were the easy victors, who would take on the home team, Oracle Team USA, during the month of September for the oldest trophy in international sport.
As it turned out, my fashion choices were perfect for the day, I was comfortable and dressed a little differently from the Ralph Lauren navy blazer and ballerina flats (they must not have gotten the tennis shoe memo) worn by my fellow VIPs. It was once in a life time moment when fashion and sport made a splash!