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Posts Tagged ‘alinghi’

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Oracle Team USA Director of External Affairs and America’s Cup ‘fixer’ Tom Ehman celebrated the five-year anniversary of Dogzilla’s defeat of Alinghi 90 with a long-secret telling of just what happened on the Race Committee boat during the second race of the 2010 Match.  It’s great reading, and a reminder of just how fucked up it is at the very top end of ISAF-derived race management.  The full story – with some interesting comments – is on TFE’s Facebook Page here.

In the past five years I’ve said very little — publicly or privately — about the incident that took place on the RC boat before the start of AC33′s second and final race on Valentines Day 2010, five years ago yesterday. For the best-of-three-race Match, I was designated by Larry Ellison to serve as our “race committee boat representative,” which meant going afloat each race day on the RC boat to observe. Before the first race Alinghi tried to keep me off the boat, but I politely persisted; the internationally- and highly-respected Harold Bennett (Auckland, NZL), who had been agreed by both teams as the independent Principal Race Officer, came to my rescue and insisted that, per the mutually-agreed rules, I was permitted onboard. Not the most fun job, especially to be apart from the rest of our support team watching from other boats or at the team base, but one Larry and Russell both thought important. Turned out to be, especially at the start of Race Two….

surpriseIn addition to Harold, the RC was largely staffed by officials from Alinghi’s yacht club (SNG, Geneva, Switzerland) and led by their Vice Commodore. Race One went off without incident; many of you will recognize the image to the left is a portion of the larger photo of Jimmy Spithill’s famous Race One flying pre-start entry that caught Alinghi flat-footed — seconds after this photo was taken — and resulted in a port-starboard penalty to Alinghi.

Race Day Two dawned light and a bit lumpy. The races were subject to previously-agreed (between the teams) wind and sea limits. We were under postponement for most of the day as the wind was below the limit. Just before the afternoon cutoff time of (if memory serves) 1600, the breeze came up just enough. Accordingly, and properly “H”, as Harold Bennett is known in international sailing circles, tried to get a start sequence underway. However, Alinghi apparently thought the conditions were not favorable to them, so by radio the team ordered the SNG members of the race committee (flag-pullers, timers, etc.) to do whatever they could to stop H from starting the race. Quiet, then quite heated discussions failed to convince Harold to ignore the rules and call racing off for the day, so the SNG personnel went on strike. No joke. They went below and and started having drinks in the cabin of the RC boat.

Not deterred H carried on, and pressed his Spanish boat driver, navigator and communicator into action handling signals on the bow of the RC boat. But he was short one set of hands in the back deck to take down the postponement signal. “Sh*t, f*ck, sh*t, we’ll never get this started,” H famously said. And it was caught on TV tape — yes, I have a copy of the tape — by the on-board television crew. That’s when the GGYC Observer, sitting quietly near H on the upper deck and never one to be shy, suggested he could take down the postponement flag. H shouted (also caught on the TV tape), “Tom, take down that (expletive) postponement flag.” Of course I did, the race got underway just before the 1600 cut-off, and the rest is history. Weeks after the Match it was a pleasant surprise to receive a 4×3 photo of Jimmy’s famous Race One start, signed by Harold and commemorating the Race Two pre-start “strike” and the “scab-labor” that swung into action…

-TFE

 

February 16th, 2015 by admin

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Another light air regatta gives way to an early breeze for today’s final at the Extreme Sailing Series in Oman – the first real breeze we’ve seen all season.  Morgan Larson continues to lead but But Ainslie, McMillian, ETNZ, and SAP are on the move and any one of them can take this one with just a couple of hours of racing left in Act 2 of the 2014 season.  It’s all on, live, above, and worth watching.

 

March 22nd, 2014 by admin

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With Franck Cammas mostly denying our report yesterday of his Challenge (though confirming he’s been working for over a year to make a French Challenge happen), we turn to the New York Times’s Christopher Clarey, whose morning piece names billionaire wine magnate and yachting-obsessed Bob Oatley and his  Hammo Yacht Club as the new Challenger of Record for the 35th America’s Cup.  

Oatley may not be alone either; you might remember a few months back when Ernesto Bertarelli and friends were racing in beautiful Hamilton Island,  Oatley’s island paradise, on Oatley’s own boat.  Perhaps it was more than just a race charter?  Hell, the Cup went down there for a photo op with Oatley himself (see above).  Coincidence?

If true, it’s almost too good a story: The most famous of all Challengers, Australia joining the Cup just as their nation is leading the yachting world in up-and-coming talent, funded by a sailing obsessed billionaire with deep ties to Ernesto Bertarelli?  Could you write a better story?  We couldn’t.  

The Alinghi angle makes a great deal of sense as well; splitting the $100++ million costs between two billionaires makes it that much easier to pull the trigger for both, and with a likely 50% or so nationality rule coming into play (as Coutts himself has supported), Bertarelli could be part of the game in a place that’s actually on the sea and full of potential Cup sailors.

With guys like Glen Ashby likely free agents and flag-carrying Aussies like Slingsby and Spithill and Langford and Fowler possibly in a contract-free state, an Aussie challenge could instantly include some of this Cup’s top sailors while weakening the Defender at the same time. We know those boys would rather sail for their home nation if they don’t have to take too big a pay cut, and what an epic tale an Aussie/American final would make.

In other news, NZ digital hooligan and billionaire Kim Dotcom (who founded the slickest and sexiest filesharing and piracy host on the web and essentially bought his citizenship in Kiwilandia) has thrown his support behind a TNZ challenge.  While Dotcom is a polarizing figure at best, he’s got a few spare millions lying around, especially now that he has beaten the crap out of the US effort to imprison him for piracy.  Dotcom wants to screw America, and this could be a great way to do it.  With the NZ government unlikely to throw much cash into another Dalton-led challenge, Dotcom’s inclusion could be both poetic and a NZ challenge’s only chance, despite, as the Ed announced earlier, the creepiness of the dude.

The silly season has begun, and if just a few of the stories we are hearing are true, it’s going to be an interesting one!

Chat about it all on the AC Anarchy forums. Photo from our pals at HIRW.

September 26th, 2013 by admin

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