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America's Cup Guest Racers Get To Experience The Event Up Close And Personal (VIDEO)

First Posted: 03/15/2012 7:38 pm Updated: 03/15/2012 7:38 pm

It's tough to find many areas of agreement between the pro and con sides of San Francisco hosting the 2013 America's Cup.

On one hand, boosters see the race as a golden opportunity for the city to bring in throngs of yachting enthusiasts from around the world (not to mention their dollars). On the other, detractors worry the entire event is nothing more than a massive corporate giveaway-cum-environmental disaster.

But there is one thing almost everyone believes: being on a boat is rad.

(Note: those prone to seasickness may not necessarily agree.)

During the upcoming America's Cup races, a few lucky spectators will get the rare opportunity to experience that radness firsthand from the decks of the very boats being raced.

Yes, during each of this year's races, all of the 13-story catamarans will be required to bring along a "guest racer."

"It started really as a way for the owners to ride in their boats," Bob Fisher, author of the two-volume An Absorbing Interest: The America's Cup - A History 1851-2003 told the San Francisco Chronicle. In the two decades since, the program since has morphed into a unique way for financiers and celebrities to experience the race.

What does one need to do in order to receive this rare honor? For one, guest racers must weigh under 220 pounds. Also, they need a lot (a lot) of money. SF Weekly reports:

Asked just how much scratch it would cost to plant one's (sub-221-pound) derriere on a racing AC72, an America's Cup official declined to name an exact dollar figure. Rather, you -- or your beneficiaries -- will have to "do business" with the folks in charge of lining up race sponsorships -- "significant business."

Being a guest racer isn't all money bags and flippy-floppies. During a race off the coast of Plymouth, England last year, a boat carrying a guest racer capsized, resulting in the individual experiencing a harrowing few minutes hanging from a beam off of the overturned vessel.

One big-name guest racer is former San Francisco Mayor and current California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom. Check out this video of Newsom talking about his time as a guest racer:

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Filed by Aaron Sankin  |