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Posts Tagged ‘America’s Cup’

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While the Bermudians should be proud of providing an excellent in-person experience for fans of America’s Cup racing, the media output from the event has been – until quite recently – far weaker, with the dull press conferences at the centerpiece.  Fortunately they allowed longtime Chicago media pro (and F-18 and A-Cat racer) Laura Muma to take over last week, and with Mr. Clean showing the rest of the reporters how to get their hands dirty after his arrival, things are finally getting interesting.  Still, we absolutely love this shot posted by Facebooker MOA BEER last night of Pete “Sam The Eagle” Burling and Jimmy “Rowlf The Dog” Spithill.

To watch Jimmy finally begin to crush under the pressure of a woefully unprepared and underperforming America’s Cup effort, head into last night’s Press Conference, below.  Two more races today (if necessary)…and we’ve learned not to make any predictions when things are on Match Point.

June 26th, 2017 by admin

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Is today the day the battle really begins?  Maybe so, but you’ll need a good weather report first.  Here’s that and much more as shot live just a few minutes ago in the BDA. Click for a discussion of yesterday’s penalties (with data), discussion of rudder and board mods, and other rules questions answered by AC head judge Richard Slater and regatta director The Big Fella, plus a bonus interview with commentator Simon Shaw and legendary Kiwi broadcast voice Peter Lester.

June 25th, 2017 by admin

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The hardest-digging sailing journalist in Italy spotted the former Ruler of the Cup in Bermuda last week, and his short interview with Ernesto Bertarelli touches on the kind of stuff any fan of AC history or high performance sailing will want to know.  Our translation, with thanks to the always-good work of Luca Bontempelli and La Gazzetta.

Sporting an Alinghi watch and hat, in a great mood, Ernesto Bertarelli is back in his element: water – or rather, the America’s Cup.   He enjoys talking with everyone.

Bertarelli: “The other night I was having dinner at the home of Russell Coutts [holy crap! -ed], and we had a long chat about everything.  Except sailing. Against the beauty of Bermuda I realized he had nothing against anyone.  Life is too short to waste on bickering.  In fact the thing I am most proud of in my years of America’s Cup racing is the personal relationships that I built. From pilot to rafts to the most important person in the Cup, I had a lot of testimonies of affection. This for me has great value. “

He was more than once in the shore base with the Kiwi team: “They showed me the base, I tried their simulator, we spoke, I can tell you that I am not the next Challenger of Record. I believe it to be Patrizio Bertelli with Luna Rossa if the Kiwis win.

One cannot tell whether he is ready to challenge, but there is no doubt the Cup is one of his passions, and underneath, there’s work going on for an Alinghi return to the AC soon.

“It’s important to increase the number of teams at this competition, doing what’s necessary to ensure there is a base of 8 to 10 challenging teams.  Of course keeping the same boat will make this easier.”

On Nationality requirements [reported as probably 80% of the sailing crew if the Kiwis win -ed]. “It is something I could support.  Speaking as a Swiss, after years of Alinghi  now there are a generation of sailors who are now adults, and they are ready to enter Cup racing. I do not see problems with this rule.

Does Bertarelli have any other ideas?  “Do not expect four years for the next edition, but three at the most.  In the meantime, have racing in the interim to keep the plate warm.  The TV product is there, but it needs development.  We always compare the AC to Formula 1, but there is a big return for F-1 teams and sponsors, and that’s something we still do not see with sailing. You must give something concrete to the sponsors who want to finance a team, and of course you must have more nations – including Italy – which has always been a great engine for the Cup.”

What do you think of the Cup up to here? “I really like the boats, which are fascinating and hold great potential in the future.   I was invited on board the French cat, thanks to Frank Cammas, and it really shows that they still have a lot of potential to be developed. With a few tweaks of the plumbing, they can become really fascinating boats “.

Bertarelli has always been a talent scout. Is Peter Burling the new Russell Coutts?  “He’s has those ‘killer eyes’ and is a real talent.  no question he has a huge career in the America’s Cup ahead of him.
The question that many people do now if New Zealand wins.  Will the Cup return to monohulls?  “I think that would be a huge mistake. If you want to make a modern monohull you always have to add a wing, a foil. Then the boat would become complicated for strength. I personally do not think a monohull works.
Then you are missing the America’s Cup? “For once I’m happy and peaceful. I enjoy it a lot, I like racing, they are all nice. I enjoy without anxiety or work. It’s part of my life, it’s in my blood.”
Luca Bontempelli
Gian Luca Pasini
Full interview in Italian here.

June 25th, 2017 by admin

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Artemis Racing skipper Nathan Outerridge could have been one slip-and-fall away from turning the tide on the quick Kiwis and moving on to an Oracle that he clearly feels would have been an easier test, but he’s good natured and honest about it in this 10 minute long interview with Mr. Clean on the pierside in Bermuda.  Clean finally brought some good questions to an island that’s seen weeks of fluff from the vast majority of reporters on the ground, and his subject – also the guy commentating if you watched NBC or the NBCSN app in the states – is one of the brightest and most accomplished sailors in the sport.  Learn about Nath’s feelings on his loss, whether Artemis will challenge again, Nath’s opinion on the speed difference between the two AC boats, and Burling’s mental toughness as the young Kiwi goes into tomorrow with a 4-1 lead. That and more in this 10 minutes with the flying Aussie from Lake Macquarie.

June 24th, 2017 by admin

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Bermuda internet may not be quick enough for a live show down on the docks at the AC Village, but Mr. Clean’s loaded up 18 minutes of pre-race analysis (in two parts, above), including some seriously interesting rumors about Oracle’s case of the slows and the interesting Challenger possibilities opening up if ETNZ can close it out this weekend.  With 8-12 knots on call today and less tomorrow when Race Director Ian Murray can add a third race if it’s match point, most are expecting this to be over by Sunday night.

Keep an eye on Facebook for interviews and analysis all day long.

June 24th, 2017 by admin

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Clean Report

For the longest time, I was boycotting the America’s Cup.  Despite Bermuda’s proximity to the US and kind invitations for us from a number of teams and sponsors, I didn’t want to lend any legitimacy to a venue that, in my opinion, represented a betrayal to America and all those fans who’d supported Ellison in Oracle’s huge legal and then design battle against Ernesto Bertarelli’s Alinghi team.  If you’re balls deep in the Cup like we are, you’ll remember that SA was extremely hard on Bertarelli for his proposed changes to the AC, which we saw as sabotage of the history and legacy of the AC.  So hard, in fact, that we became embedded inside Oracle Team in Valencia, running daily talk shows from their base and helping in the effort to demoralize Alinghi. And when asked why Larry Ellison’s plan was any different than the “Ernievision” plan for the Cup, my answer was simple and became rote: “If he shows that he’s not, we’ll be just as hard on him as we were on Ernesto.”

I missed the incredible excitement of San Francisco in 2013 thanks to a conflict with the Little America’s Cup, which my small crew streamed live from Falmouth, England during the day before watching the AC matches late in the night with the entire C-Class fleet – all at the club where Ben Ainslie learned to sail.  While a great experience – and still the coolest boats ever – I’ll never forgive myself for not being on the ground during the most fascinating and compelling competition in yachting history.

A year later, when Ellison removed the Cup competition from the USA and still later when the so-called ‘Framework’ was signed by all the teams but one, we realized that Larry – or henchman Russell Coutts –  in fact had quite similar ideas to Bertarelli: Profit to come from shopping the venue out to gullible governments, and sponsor VIP fulfillment thanks to an annual perpetual league of racing.  Neither idea is a bad idea, but neither idea comes close to the Deed’s intent, and neither idea is the America’s Cup.

Fast forward to just before the LV Qualifiers last month; I was riveted to my computer and the SA forums watching incredible racing in the kind of boats that SA has been begging for since something like 2005.  Finally, there really was something in sailing that captures some of what I love about Formula 1, and I wasn’t there!  With no decision made, I sent a little feeler e-mail out to the AC folks via their Media Accreditation Application.  I made it clear I wasn’t looking for Media Center access, didn’t need a Media Boat, and wasn’t interested in parties, accommodations, press kits, swag bags, or any of the other bullshit that most events use to try to convince reporters to be nice.  In fact, I didn’t need anything at all other than attendance at the press conferences.

Imagine my surprise when I received this e-mail, even before deciding whether to head over to the island.

Dear Alan Block,

Thank you for your media accreditation request for the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda.

Your accreditation request has been received and considered. Unfortunately it has not been accepted which means you will not be issued with a media pass and access to the 35th America’s Cup Media Centre.

Please be aware that entry to the public facilities at the 35th America’s Cup does not require a media accreditation pass. Our website, www.americascup.com/tickets will provide you with all information regarding the range of ticket packages that are available.

Yours sincerely,

Daniel Ferrando, Media Centre Manager

Immediately after the shock wore off from what is my first-ever media accreditation denial, I booked my ticket to Bermuda.

Next, I set about trying to figure out how a modern sporting event, sponsored to the tune of $77M by an island nation – one that relies nearly entirely on American tourism – could reject the single most-read publisher of sailing content in America.  The handwriting was on the wall already as far as the commercial success of the event; the interest among Americans was at an all-time low, the early ratings on MSNBCSN were dismal, and the event must be desperate for american eyeballs.  And yet even after sending over proof of the million-plus American readers of this site, I got another rejection – this time, after the thing had been kicked uphill to their Comms Director.

Dear Alan,
Your email below has been forwarded to me so I can reply.
We judge each application for media accreditation to the 35th America’s Cup on its own merits, bearing in mind the resources we have available in the Media Centre.
As with various others, we have decided to exercise our right to decline your application. 
Sincerely,
Tom Webb

In the media world, that’s called a non-answer, and I correctly guessed that Tom Webb – a real media professional whose worked with much tougher reporters than me in his F1 days – had nothing to do at all with this decision. I wrote back:

Thanks for the personal response Tom. Can you please explain what those criteria are, and whether or not non-accredited individuals are permitted in the press conferences?  To be frank I couldn’t care less about the media center, media boats, or any other trappings of entitled reporters. I do however know that our readers want to have their questions represented…
By this point, I knew that nothing I wrote would change things, because this was personal.  I had pissed off Sir Russell, and this was his revenge.  Petty? Maybe.  Showing a total lack of the most basic understanding of the media and concern for the event’s sponsor?  Absolutely.  The expected response showed up shortly thereafter:
Hi Alan,
Non-accredited personnel are not allowed in the press conferences.
Tom
I let it end there – the last thing I’d ever do is beg the America’s Cup for accreditation, preferring to use my anger to fight back in the best way I know – by reporting on it.
I remain hopeful that it was really all just a minor screwup and that I’ll get an invitation to this afternoon’s presser, but you won’t find me holding my breath!
Keep watching this page for more AC coverage until the end.

June 24th, 2017 by admin

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Shanghai Sailor’s nostalgic Cup piece Then And Now last week touched a nerve with encyclopedic SA’er “The Jay,” who took issue with the concept of the America’s Cup as the sport’s leading edge of development.  Check it, and join the conversation here.

SS writes some great posts but when it comes to the piece from the front page it seems that he may be off the ball. The basic tenet of the piece is wrong. The AC has rarely, if ever, been “at the forefront of yachting development”. It has been involved in some development, but it’s generally just been refining small-boat ideas for big-boat use. Let’s look at the claims that were made about the J Class on the front page;

“Rigs went from single spreader to multi spreaders….rigs that were so much higher and more efficient with Bermudan Rigs, as large a change from the old gaff rigs to the new rig as wings are to soft sails.”

The AC did not lead this process at all. Bermudan rigs came into international yacht racing in the mid-1890s at the Seawanhaka Cup, a quarter of a century before they were first used in the AC. Bermudan rigs and multiple spreaders came into big boats in 1921, when the 112 foot cutter Nyria was redesigned to take a bermudan rig with triple spreaders. There were also three 23 Metres racing with bermudan rig (Astra, Cambria and Candida) before the rig was ever used in the AC. It also seems that the old US AC boats Resolute and Vanitie had been converted to bermudan after their AC careers but before any bermudan boat had raced in the AC.  The facts are clear – not only did the AC not lead the way for the whole sport, it didn’t even lead the way for 130 footers.

“sails like genoas and spinnakers (both or which owe their developments to the J-Class era.”

Nope. Depending on who you believe, genoas came from Manfred Curry and his renjollen dinghies, or Sven Salen in Six Metres, or Francis Herreshoff before he designed an AC challenger. Modern style “parachute spinnakers” only came into the Cup in 1934, many years after they had been adopted in smaller boats. In fact AC legend Sherman Hoyt wanted “parachute spinnakers” banned from the J Class because they were unseamanlike.

What actually happened was that the AC boats held on to multiple small jibs longer after small boats had moved to genoas. Almost all of the first crop of Js had triple headsails. Only the last to be launched, Whirlwind, came out with twin headsails. This was a quarter of a century after the bermudan sloop had first raced in an international yacht race. As Uffa Fox noted, Whirlwind was already behind “the single headsail rig of the future”, which had already been in use in boats like Twelve Metres for years. So again, the AC did not lead the way, but lag behind.

“Those sails were in grooves or tracks up the mast instead of secured by hoops as with gaff rigs increasing aerodynamically, the efficiency. Aluminium made its appearance, as lighter than wood as carbon is now lighter than ally and even a form of wing mast made its appearance on what many people consider the greatest J-Class of all, Ranger.’

Yep, duralumin/aluminium was first used in the AC boats, but not on Ranger. And the mast’s creator didn’t think they were “a form of wing mast” or had track slides instead of hoops for what we would call a good reason. The shape was to give them strength and “diminished, rather than added to, the effectiveness of mast and sail on the wind…..The track on the after side of the mast which carries the luff of the mainsail is .an unfortunate necessity of the jib-headed rig.”

Of course, any claim that the second or third series of Js were like the AC50s is fatally flawed by the fact that the later Js were intended to be racer/cruisers – built to Lloyds so they did and could sail across oceans; carrying 7 tons of accommodation down below including a palatial owner’s stateroom and sometimes a bath; and with heavy masts built to rule restrictions. The British Js often raced around the coast week after week, like the earlier AC boats. They were rarely just day-racing boats like the AC50s. Yes, some had advanced equipment but not always – Rainbow used 27 year old winches!

However, while the masts on some of the Js were advanced, the hulls were extremely conservative. As Fox and others noted at the time, Js like Enterprise were very, very similar in hull shape to Britannia,designed in 1893. A class that has the same sort of hull as a boat about 30 years older is hardly bleeding edge in many ways. As Burgess, the man who created that first aluminium mast noted, “our latest America’s Cup yachts are more like the Gloriana in hull form (ie an 1890s design) than those of 30 years ago.”

“Rod rigging – common place on modern race boat with now steel being replaced by carbon leading to the modern E6 rigging on the highest end boats”

Rod rigging wasn’t invented in the AC; Burgess noted that rod rigging had been used in small boats beforehand. I think you’ll find that carbon rigging was also used outside of the AC for years. By the way BBurgess, who brought rod rigging into the AC, said that the Js did “not even contribute to the development of yachting as a true sport apart from the satisfaction of an illogical national vanity.”

“In 1987, after every 12 Metre before her had been aluminium the New Zealand plastic (cheater as Dennis Conner accused her of being) boat nearly carried all before her”That’s a classic example of the AC boats dragging the development chain. By 1987, fibreglass was old hat in every other class. ‘Glass ocean racers had been around since the Bounty II came out in 1956. Foam sandwich ocean racers had been around since the ’60s. Maxis had been made in fibreglass and foam sandwich since 1971. Carbon ocean racers had been around for about six years. Running 31 to 16 years behind the times is not leading edge.

“We had the NZ ‘Big Boat Challenge….the full on wing mast made its first appearance in this match.” The “full on wing mast” had been around since the 1950s in small boats, and since the 1970s in C Class cats. Wing masts had been used in ocean racing multis since 1968. Once again, the AC was dragging the chain by decades. Let’s not even get into designs like assymetrics, bowsprit poles, exotic masts, planing hulls, light displacement, film sails or the many other areas where the AC has lagged eons behind small boats and shorthanded racers.

The idea that the AC is leading edge seems to be comparatively modern. The fact is that the event started with a boat designed from a workboat, which was beaten before it left the USA, and with challengers that were cruising boats, and ever since then the heritage and value of the AC has laid in the conservative refinements of ideas that are then used in mainstream monohulls, not in blazing trails in the far reaches of design.

Sorry if it seems like I’m taking potshots at you SS, but the history of the event doesn’t bear you out.

June 21st, 2017 by admin

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The Sailor Girl is front and center in Bermuda with AC Race Director Iain Murray to find out if the weather forecast for the Match is as shitty as it was for the 4-day driftathon that was the Red Bull Youth AC qualifiers.  The Big Fella gets into gear selection, tactics, and more in this short piece from Nic, and you can go here to get all her interviews – and her live commentary of the racing – instead of the commentary crap peddled by the commentary team.

In other news, several million Kiwis and Aussies, most of Europe, and half the tiny number of Americans that are watching are pulling for the Kiwis, who have pulled almost even amongst oddsmakers despite the numerous advantages owned by the US team.

Our guess?  At least one good t-bone, a couple of capsizes, and ETNZ takes it home after a  7-3.

In the US the AC racing is finally on a real network today at 1300 ET – big NBC has it free and live for today and tomorrow only before next week’s return to the ratings bonanza that is NBCSn.

Up-to-the-minute updates in the Live Racing thread.

 

June 17th, 2017 by admin

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UPDATE: Well, the world is getting what it wanted – USA v Kiwis. Odds are the yanks (cough) will win it, but that’s why they play the games….

ACEA’s had some good luck with weather up til this point, but the spectre of Bermuda’s light summer winds finally reared its ugly head today during race 7 of the AC Chall decider.  Burling won the start with ETNZ streaking toward the bottom mark when the wind died off to nothing, and it remains to be seen whether we’ll see more racing today.  It’s the one issue no one’s spoken about, but anyone who’s spent June in Bermuda knows well that it can get calm – really calm – for days on end at this time of year.  Monitor the forecast and talk smack in AC Anarchy…

June 12th, 2017 by admin

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It’s a fairly well documented fact that major sporting events rarely meet their forecasted numbers to the host venue, and the political fallout from things like the World Cup and Olympics tend to destroy careers and governments while the economic hangover can destroy economies.  While the America’s Cup isn’t in the league of the true ‘majors’, for a tiny country like Bermuda, it’s proving to be quite the headache.

Since the awarding of the 35th AC to Bermuda in exchange for roughly $78 Million of local money and guarantees, the majority OBA party has lost its majority over the BDA government, with the opposition PLP party starting to storm the battlements while the world’s wealthy look on.  Last month, the PLP party won on two issues opposed by the ruling OBA but supported by non-rich, non-white Bermudans – the decriminalization of marijuana and the reduction of the island’s statutory interest rate,

The PLP called for a vote of “No Confidence” in Premier Michael Dunkley’s government that May election, and after realizing that he was probably going to lose it if allowed to continue, Dunkley on Friday dissolved parliament and called for a snap election on July 18th – after the AC is over, of course.

While Bermudians are way more polite than USAnians, it’s definitely getting hot on that little island; one newspaper calls the PLP’s move cynical and deceitful, while PLP supporters claim that shadowy government figures are behind mass mailings and anti-PLP propaganda posted all around the AC.  One local political watcher explained what may be quite invisible if you’re rich and like watching yachting:

“Mold in our schools; neglect of the needs of our seniors; break downs in our transportation system focusing on the upkeep of our buses. Cutbacks on education scholarships; Concluding an agreement to develop a new airport that gives a foreign entity control of that important asset for 30 years. Bermudian still facing a high level of unemployment prompting many to leave the country in search of better living conditions. This government has touted the America’s cup as the greatest economic stimulus in Bermuda’s history but to date that has not fully manifested itself in its impact on tourism. Numbers of tourists coming to Bermuda have in fact only reach the level that the former PLP government had reached before the  last economic downturn. In fact we now hear of workers in major hotels been put on short work weeks as the hotel occupancy levels have not reach expectations and this in the middle of the America’s cup.”

Russell and friends seem to have promised Bermuda the next AC if they can successfully defend the Cup, as most expect them to.  But will Bermuda want them back?  If it’s all about the benefit to the island as a whole and the decision is a democratic one, it’s looking less and less likely – just as we saw in San Francisco. If, as some detractors claim, it’s an opaque deal driven by moneyed interests?  Well, that sounds like the AC to us!

June 12th, 2017 by admin

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