break it down
Anarchist Rail Meat does a magnificent job breaking down the AC…
So with any modern AC campaign, your team has to have multiple disciplines that each dominate in their particular focus and also work well together in a coordinated fashion. In fact, I count 11 different disciplines that must work together for a team to achieve victory.
I think many people might agree with me that one of the reasons that Alinghi has won in the past is because all of those parts worked well together for their team and each aced their area of focus. People might also agree that BMW Oracle has lost in the past because some (but not all) of the disciplines failed at their job and the overall coordination was poor.
So, how have the two teams done this time? Alinghi kept many of the same players around and had the benefit of continuity. BMW Oracle rebuilt and retooled, bringing RC in to run the program in a CEO function. What were the results? Or as I might say in my line of work, what was the return on investment?
- Coordination / Collaboration – I put this discipline first, since I think it is where BMW Oracle has failed in the past and since I think in the modern Cup world it is the most important. Alinghi has done a credible job of continuing the well run organization that they have had for the past 3 Cup cycles. No known infighting, no break in the ranks and everything gets done when it needs to get done. I see two failings this time around: They did seem to fumble the coordination and response activities in the months of November and December when all of the legal findings were going against them. Also, they seem to have let EB and Lucien make some ill founded and poor decisions with regard to challenger and protocol that ended up leading them into this mess, and then some poor decisions about making no compromises in the interest of a Mutual Challenge. I think those were ultimately decisions driven by ego, were flawed and in a well organized team they could and should have been subject to review and the ability to be over ruled. Oracle on the other hand has done a 180 degree turn around. From the bickering, screaming mess they were in prior cups, they are now a well oiled machine. No known infighting, a massively complex design that was delivered (again and again) in very fast order, plenty of water time, a coordinated attack on the legal, design, building and PR fronts…. I find it hard to find fault in their organizational activities this time around. What changed? RC, and LE being comfortable with his leadership. Bottom line: BMW Oracle slightly beats Alinghi.
- Owner Commitment – Almost equal to the discipline of leadership is the ability and willingness to make the kind of fiscal commitment coupled with fast and decisive decisions necessary to allow a team to explore every opportunity and take advantage of those that make sense. In this regard, Larry has been incredible in this cycle. No expense spared, and decisions made with lighting speed from what we can see from the outside. Ernie has also been incredible. He has committed what seems to be his entire life to this cycle, with near constant presence and focus. He also has committed unbelievable resources to the effort, probably more impressive than Larry’s commitment only because in the world of relative wealth he probably has less than Larry’s wealth. I can find fault with the decisions that he made, but in general he made those decisions (good or bad) in good speed. Bottom Line: A nod to Alinghi.
- Overall Decision Making – BMW Oracle has consistently made good decisions during this cycle. They maximized the advantages that they did have, created advantages where they had none, and have made very few miss steps that I can see. Alinghi, on the other hand, has given away virtually every advantage they had under the Deed through a series of bad decisions, starting with the creation of CNEV. Other bad decisions included misjudging Larry’s will and capacity to fight on every front to win this cycle, their poor decision to pick a non-Deed compliant venue of RAK, and their failure to cut a Mutual Consent deal while they still had some bargaining power. Bottom Line: BMW Oracle beats the pants off of Alinghi.
- Boat Design: What can I say that has not already been said? Each team took a different approach to the problem and both came up with magnificent machines. BMW Oracle had the disadvantage of not knowing the venue and had to over design as as a result. Alinghi took their advantage and under designed. Then Alinghi screwed up the venue advantage and had it turned around on them to BMW Oracle’s favor by being forced to Valencia which then forced them to play games with wind and wave limits. None of that, however, is the fault (or credit) of the design teams who worked with what they were given in the way of location guidance. What leads me to give the tip of the hat to BMW Oracle is that they took their platform and constantly refined it as the venue issues started to sort them selves out… a continuous improvement design cycle. I did not see the same from Alinghi. Bottom Line: Slight favor towards BMW Oracle.
- Boat Building – Wow. Both teams have created unbelievable machines in unbelievable time frames. Hard to pick a favorite here. Each had breakages, but neither was allowed to slow down the teams for very long. Both have beautiful finish quality, and are amazing. Bottom Line: Its a draw.
- Sail Making: Oh dear. Other than the lousy legal decisions that led to Alinghi frittering away all of its advantages from the Deed, I think this Cup will be looked upon as the one that was won by the sails. Alinghi’s decision to use sails formed in Minden Nevada, versus BMW Oracle’s design and build of the Wing. The Wing has done wonders to nullify the light air advantages of Alinghi’s design, and allows them to dominate the heavier air. Plus it is damn cool, and allows them to grab a lot of the PR air time. Bottom Line: BMW Oracle in a horizon job over Alinghi.
- Base Logistics – To the outside observer, each team has done an excellent job at base logistics. BMW Oracle built in Anacortes, assembled in San Diego, trained in San Diego, transported to Valencia, reassembled in Valencia, and trained in Valencia. Alinghi built in Switzerland, assembled in Switzerland, trained in Switzerland, transported to Genoa (via helicopter, no less!), trained in Genoa, transported to RAK, trained in RAK, transported to Valencia, and trained in Valencia. In both teams cases, the bases seemed to run well, were well organized, security was tight and the mission was accomplished. Bottom Line: Nod to Alinghi since they had to set up and run in 4 locations while BMW Oracle did it in 3 locations.
- Legal – Ah, where is your sixth best legal team when you need them? From a simple count of the motions won by BMW Oracle versus the motions won by Alinghi, this is a simple one to assess. BMW Oracle took a little bit of time to hit their stride in this discipline, but once they did it was game over for Alinghi lawyers. Of course, I don’t envy Alinghi’s lawyers having to fight their fight with Lucien in the background making all sorts of bad decisions. Bottom Line: A humiliating defeat for Alinghi.
- PR – When you have a two team AC Cup Cycle, PR matters more because the focus is on just two teams. And in many respects, the PR game is played not to influence the outside world, but to engage in Psy Ops against your opponent. Alinghi started out strong, with great base run PR events during the boat launch and a light hearted web site. However, once the legal game started going against them, their PR team fell apart. They were never able to own the story, and instead got owned by the story. They still receive favorable reporting from some (but not all) of the European outlets, but it has been a long time since their PR has been able to have an impact on the BMW Oracle team. Meanwhile, the BMW Oracle team started out quite poor in the early going, with minimal to no coverage during the design, build or even launch cycle. Their first effort at a launch related party was kind of weak. But then they got better…. they opened up to some of the non-conventional outlets (e.g. SA), started getting their story in the more conventional media, and was able to leverage the legal victories to their favor. As noted above, they were also able to take advantage of the Wing being the coolest thing out there. Bottom Line: a win for BMW Oracle.
- Weather – Very hard to tell who has the edge here. The teams (logically) provide minimal insight to their capabilities and planning in this discipline and there is very little output that can be seen from outside of the teams. I think the best way to judge this discipline is after the race, when we see who sailed into pressure, and who did not. Bottom Line: To Be Determined
- Sailing Team – And this is what it comes down to. All the other disciplines have brought us to this point in time, where the only remaining piece to the puzzle is how well the sailing teams do on the water with the boats that have been given to them. Bottom Line – To Be Determined. Jump in here