so i talked to ernesto today…

so i talked to ernesto today…

Brief history of The Cup, part 2

 In a wonderful world you believe that happy, confident, competent people lead us. You believe that they have good hearts and they mean to help others. They believe in growth, prosperity for all, and betterment of society. This would be ideal.

But in our world full of Americana we are cluttered with rhetoric, media extension, and legal nonsense. It begins at roughly 4pm with consecutive episodes of “who is the real father,” and “so, what happen was.” These shows are skirted by “we should all feel good about ourselves,” and of course, “cops.” On alternate channels that have now banded together to ensure commercial interruption into our otherwise pleasant stint on the recliner are such hits as “have faith America,” and “America’s Most Wanted.” On the NEWS we find the same.

On THE NEWS we find reports about people who believe they are from here are still fighting with people who think they belong here, and groups of people who want to be from here. Sometimes they fight and end up on COPS, or AMERICAS MOST WANTED. And then we find reports about people who are from here out fighting people who don’t want to be from here in far away places. Most of them didn’t sail to get there. Times have changed.
We are still good at building stuff. In fact, we build such good stuff that people from other places want it even when they can build stuff just as good where they are. Whoops.

But we build fighting stuff really good, and this has the other people who build fighting stuff very afraid- or that is what the guy who leads us, tells us. And we are really good at fighting people who are not from here. We can even fight them where they are from because we are so good at building fighting stuff.
So now we have the CUP.
And we are in the process of inviting everyone who we used to fight to come over here and bring a sailboat and race against us. But we get to set the rules. Again.
That pretty much brings us up to speed on America’s Cup history.

The tragedy here is the Swiss dude, Ernesto. As you remember- we hate him. We begged him to fight and he did, so we hated him. Then we fought him and we hated him. Then we won, and we hated him.

We are looking at the first or second biggest investor in sailing in the 21st century. Ernesto Bertarelli and his team have spent so much money on sailing that it makes Prada look like a K Mart brand and could have gotten Martha Stewart out of jail before the arraignment. They did so with the honest hope of inclusion. Ernesto encouraged more countries to use valuable resources (in our economy to date) to stage friendly competition between nations. They wanted, encouraged, and poured countless dollars (that is our form of currency, theirs is better) into the Olympics and boating technology than all other efforts of the 20th century combined.

Ernesto (and team) have done so for the love of a sport. A sport that used to be the means of transportation, warfare, and moving stuff for the entire world. We live in a world that was created by sailing. He has done nothing but EVERYTHING to help promote that. So that dude that is not from here didn’t get along with the dude that is, and the dude that is maybe spent more money than Ernesto. He won. We love him.
But why do we not love Ernesto?
Without Ernesto then whom would Larry have to fight?
Who would we all have to fight?

Where would the money that has kept the worldwide yachting industry afloat for the last 11 years have come from? If Larry could have bailed out Yachting Worldwide, would he? I dunno- he wasn’t at the congressional hearings bailing out Ford, GM, and Chrysler when we all realized our existing stuff is just going to have to work because we don’t have any more dollars to spend on boats or other stuff until the dollar is worth more than those things Ernesto has a lot of.

Those are the development dollars that paid for the folks that build rope and stuff to keep building better rope. Engineers to build boats that don’t break in half (sorry Australia one.) Composite techs who know that vacuum bagging doesn’t involve cleaning their living room. Sailmaker’s who can build a virtual image of your membrane before the first strand of fiber see’s daylight. Captains who are quite comfortable at 8kts. And 16kts. And 24kts. And 32 kts. And beyond. These people- most of whom are not originally from here but now some of them are- don’t exist without Ernesto. Or Larry. Or Dennis. Or even, yes, Doug.
These are folks who are just like you and me. But they have a LOT of money. We should rejoice when they want to spend it on sailing. It is after all how we all got here. Except for the people who walked here but that was a very long time ago.
But we don’t. Ernesto. We hate him. But we love Larry.

We love Larry because he is more from here than from there, and we love that.

In a perfect world we will all rejoice when someone like Ernesto wants to play our game. Not just because he has a LOT of money- but because he values the growth of our sport. He can not fix every junior program and every struggling Olympic effort he comes across. Maybe he can, but geeze that’s a lot. Instead he pours money into our sport which in turns pays the boat builder, the sailmaker, the rig builder. They pay their employees. They are NOT in the pool of Americans currently unemployed. These people also help to build and sell stuff that we want and need to make sure when we take our kids sailing that it doesn’t break. That rocks.

And the guy Larry that we all like? He does the same thing. They just didn’t get along. And that’s ok. Some people just don’t get along.

But before we crucify Ernesto (again.) Let’s throw in all the villains. Ted Turner must have been a guy we love, because he won the cup that nobody remembers the name of. His “puppies” (ie- offspring, ones that took what you taught them forward generational in learning) created the most dominant US Sailing Team of all time. We love him.
DC. He taught us that if you can build a faster boat and win every protest you will almost win every regatta. Thanks.

Uncle Bill. Dude- if you can take an unlimited budget and out-design everyone than even a boat load full of CHICKS can win. They did. DC didn’t let them win. So they didn’t. Goes back to section on “win every protest.” By the way the CHICKS were awesome and would MOP YOU UP on anything with a sail any day of the week. But we hate them. Or don’t remember them. Whoops.

The collective WE that call’s ourselves AMERICANS keep winning. Eventually. And we do it fighting out opponents. Just perhaps we should take a model from a man who didn’t want to fight anyone and just help sailing. But we hate him. Decisions.
Perhaps it is time to see beyond what the cup is called and why and ask ourselves what we fighting for, and why. The hundred and whatever year streak of us setting the rules and beating people accordingly has ended.
Past tense. Like, period the end.

Now we are in an era that without Ernesto and Larry, or Ernesto, or Larry, that our sport will become something of a Paul Bunion story. I am here to tell you without a Larry or an Ernesto, or much preferably both this story will end much like Bunion’s. In defeat.
Don’t  let sailing become a train yard. We need to ask Ernesto back. We need to BEG him back. He doesn’t want to play because we don’t play fair. When the rules aren’t in our favor we change them. This is a fact. And after we are all done splicing the new vang onto our whatever we ask where this rope was 20 years ago. Figure it out. It wasn’t. Not without Ernesto, BK, RC, DC, LE, and a host of others.

I spent the better part of today with Team Alinghi and their supporters. Cool peeps.

They don’t want to play anymore because it is not fun anymore is what they are saying, and how can you blame them? They brought more to this sport than any one of us can possibly imagine.
Their ability or inability to win an archaic court case in a court that should be deciding matters of life and death are deciding matters of yacht racing. Seriously people. Your uncle is on death row for a crime he didn’t commit and the supreme court of New York (that’s one of our states) is deciding an international spat over the conditions of sailboat racing? Wow. It is a sure good thing we fight all those people to allow us to do that. And that folks like Ernesto and Larry are willing to find it.

After nearly five hours with the camp I can tell you it was far easier to suggest what club to hit from their golf bag than what boat should be represented in the AC. But after (how many) dollars they don’t get a say. Or even a suggestion. They are seemingly ok letting that guy Larry take the Lions share of their ideas for cup future and implement them himself. Or maybe they were Larry’s idea’s- who cares! Two of the wealthiest and most influential yachtsmen in a generation are not so politely arguing details and we want one of them out?Or maybe- just maybe- they share a common goal? Holy snipe, call back the history books.

Tell the Lipton guy his TEA is OK in BOSTON.
Tell all the Germans who had no idea they were systematically eliminating the Jews they are forgiven.
Tell Clinton it’s OK his Cigar got misplaced.
And Bush is OK here- he had NO IDEA where that bomb landed. Seriously, he didn’t.
We didn’t need to fight ourselves to figure out that treating other people badly is bad.

We certainly didn’t need to fight over it. OK, maybe we did. But the first time should have been enough. Or like the sixth, but who’s counting.
Where does everyone think their 3DL sails came from? A dairy market? Sorry- or their Fusion Sails?
How about Carbon Fibre? It may have been the Aliens, but who do you think got it from Roswell to your CLAM CLEAT? It wasn’t Nixon or Johnson, Carter or Reagan. It sure as hell wasn’t Bush(s) or Clinton.

It was guys like Bill Koch, Ellison, and yes, Bertarell

Ever had a ride on a RIB? We didn’t come up with that. Not really. First famous one was used to cross the Patomic by a guy named Washington who stole the idea from the, yes, Germans (they called them Hessians back then.) (HE/THEY stole it from the people that were originally from here that we now refer to as Indians- sorry- native Americans, anyway FROM HERE.)

Without an Ernesto bertarelli, or a Larry, or a Bill, or a Dennis, or a Sir Thomas @#$% Lipton- it simply doesn’t happen.
And WE (that would go back to the history lesson) hate him. That would be…. ERNESTO! Silly man keeps spending a gazillion dollars trying to grow the sport. Silly man. That’s what we want. So we hate him.

It is time to love our sport again. It is time to go sailing. It is time to break lines, bend spars, and tear sails. There is not to worry if you break a wire, the descendants of the bloodline of the cup that nobody remembers the name of have can make fast that the next wire, boat, line, fitting, spar, or sail – capably snugged to your liking. And of course, you can always do it yourself!

The vibe from EB’s camp was that he didn’t want to play anymore because there was nothing else positive for him to accomplish. He achieved incredible success with his efforts and was awarded fairly the highest ranking trophy in yachting. Twice. To do so only a trained accountant (which I assure you the Swiss have) could tell you not what he spent on sailing, but what it cost him on a financial level. And while dollars or euro’s are accountable—

Bertelli did this through the worst economy the world has seen since before the second world war. He helped to sustain or create industry around sailing. He helped to inspire a generation of sailors. His involvement has lead to the tightest international racing- in decades- at every level-  that simply did not exist before.

Did you do that?

What did Ernesto Bertarelli accomplish? Other than both winning and successfully defending the America’s Cup? He may have made your kids optimist possible. He had a part in your 3DL sail for your Olson 30. He is a piece of every line you pull, every block you lean on, and every winch you turn. He shares a part. He still is sharing a part. Those efforts haven’t changed. Ernesto- if we have to lose you to golf then we will survive.

But not the same.We thank you for everything you have done for our sport, and apologize for being such, “Americans.” I am no more from here than Sean, or Michelle, or Mark.


in case you missed it Part 1