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be my ac valentine

be my ac valentine

Iain Murray told us yesterday he didn’t really register the criticism that has been thrown at the AC organizers over the past few months, but local SF’ers and several big names in the international sailing media have been railing against AC organizers for months about the crap job they’ve done at engaging the US mainstream, as well as the poor attendance at the first year of the AC World Series.

But AC’s efforts to fix things are slowly and quietly bearing fruit, as evidenced by this long-awaited piece in Outside Magazine. It ain’t easy to get the nation’s top outdoor sports mag to write so glowingly and accurately about anything (much less sailing), and with print circulation of nearly 700,000 people and online viewership two or three times that, it’s the kind of placement that will, without a doubt, translate into bodies online, on the shore, and in front of the TV; watching sailing.

Another piece of cleverness comes via reliable sources leaking that international superstar and super-caliente Columbiana Shakira is on the list of entertainment rumored for the ACWS event in Naples this coming April. Whether true or not, the rumor has already gotten tongues wagging – Shakira is bigger than Madonna in more of the world than you’d think.

Our final kudo goes to AC blogger and media floater Peter Rusch, who’s as down-to-Earth and passionate about sailing as they come. Ruschie’s been a live commentator, blogger, and researcher for Oracle and the AC, and he put together this emotional piece to remind us of one of our sport’s most bizarre and important competitions ever, and of the anniversary of the bittersweet but rewarding victory of two years ago. It’s great work, and maybe a sign of things to come?

Where were you two years ago today? Do you remember what you were doing?

I certainly do. My Valentine’s Day in 2010 was quite memorable, if not for the surroundings or the romantic company, at least for the occasion.

I was behind a computer screen, very similar to the one I’m looking at now, located in quite an ordinary office tucked up out of the way on the second floor, in an all but forgotten corner of the BMW ORACLE Racing team base in Valencia.

February 14, 2010, was the second and, as it would turn out, the final race day of the 33rd America’s Cup.

Valencia in February that year was colder than usual. Everyone on the team was exhausted after the final push to get ready to race. And although there was reason for optimism after a victory in race one, nobody on the team was counting on a win on the day. If the first race had proven USA 17 could be faster than Alinghi 5, the boys on the BOR boat would still have to get it around the course.

The nervousness came from the fact that race one was just about the longest the giant, technologically groundbreaking, trimaran had ever sailed without suffering some kind of failure that could take it out of race trim. While a generous interpretation would say this was an example of peaking at the right time, others might look at it as tempting fate to expect a similar result two race days in a row.

From outside the team, I’m sure people looked at the result of race one and were thinking it would be a valedictory atmosphere in the base that day. But inside the team, I can assure you, it was anything but. Everyone involved knew there was still a long way to go and many things that could go wrong.

The tension was palpable and perhaps exaggerated by how tired people were. I recall there was a great weight of expectation hanging over the day. People wanted the win, were ready to celebrate, and anxious for it to be over. Nobody wanted to think about the prospect – as tempting as it might be as a storyline – of an all-or-nothing race three.

On the day, the giant trimaran with it’s immense wingsail started slowly, but made a pass before the first mark and extended the rest of the way to the finish line for an historic win. The celebrations went long into the cold Valencian night, and with the win, the pursuit of the 34th America’s Cup could begin. – Peter Rusch