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not ready for prime time

One of our favorite writers is Aaron Kuriloff from Bloomberg. Today he wrote a pretty damn comprehensive piece on the state of the AC. It isn’t always pretty…

On the morning of May 9, Andrew Simpson reported to work at a former seaplane base in Alameda, California, for his job trying to win the America’s Cup.

The 36-year-old professional sailor arrived around 7:30 to join teammates in the gym for weight training. The shore crew was readying their ride, a red, 72-foot (21-meter) catamaran, before rolling it through sliding doors down to the water and hoisting its 131-foot wing-like sail with a construction crane. Big Red, as the Artemis Racing crew called the twin-hulled, carbon-fiber yacht, was almost ready for its final run.

Technological advances had redefined the Cup, an idiosyncratic sailing duel of the wealthy that originated in the 19th century. The boats were quicker and more dangerous than ever, 12-story catamarans capable of traveling at highway velocities. They were the vision of Larry Ellison, the chief executive officer of Oracle Corp. (ORCL) and the world’s eighth-richest man, who won the trophy in 2010, along with the right to host the regatta and hold sway over vessel design and rules.
Of that morning four months ago, Iain Percy remembers just flashes. He’d won gold and silver with Simpson on the British team at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics. The partners, best mates for more than two decades, sat side-by-side on exercise bikes.

“He was pushing hard on the bike to lose some kilos,” says Percy, the Artemis skipper. Six-foot-one and 229 pounds (104 kilograms) at the Olympics the previous summer, Simpson was the ideal size for a Star-class boat but heavy for Big Red. He disliked the gym, which had occupied a couple of hours of many days for a decade or more as he developed the ropey limbs and iron core needed to haul lines and hang off boats. Read on.

 

September 12th, 2013

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