The America’s Cup is getting exciting (who thought I would ever say that)

Dean Barker

OH. MY. GOD. I can’t believe this madness hasn’t ended yet. I was certain Team New Zealand was going to win one of the races yesterday, as the Oracle crew had yet to do better than split decisions on days when two races were sailed. But now Oracle has in fact won four in a row and “only” needs four more.

This is starting to seem almost feasible. And I think Dean Barker is starting to think the same thing. He hasn’t been looking too happy at press conferences lately.

Here’s the video (HIGHLIGHT) for yesterday, in case you haven’t stumbled across it elsewhere:

Both wins were wire-to-wire, but the Kiwis got very close for a while in the first race. Oracle has firmly established that they can foil like bandits upwind when conditions permit and their tactics and crew work continue to improve overall. If day one of the series were today and I were making bets, I’d have to pick them.

Which reminds me… if Oracle repeats with a double win today, that jury decision docking them two races at the start becomes determinative.

That would truly suck.


Americas Cup – the writing is on the wall

from SAILfeed

AC Final Race 5

I was going to blog about the Cup again after watching race 4 on Sunday and planned to cheerfully announce how wrong I was in my last post on the subject. I am an optimist at heart, and I was ready to drink all the Kool-Aid in sight after watching Oracle finally beat Emirates Team New Zealand in a fair fight. I recalled the 2004 ALCS between the Red Sox and Yankees, and how I was chatting with my best Sox buddy right after the Yanks went up three games to zip in the series. “You know what,” I said to him, as the marvelous premonition of what was about to happen swept over me. “I think we have them right where we want them.”

And, of course, I was right…

'04 Sox win headline

I was trying very hard to have that premonition again. I tried to imagine the impossible becoming probable: Oracle coming back against all odds, in spite of being docked two races for cheating, in spite of losing their second most important crew member, in spite of losing the first three final races. Etc. etc. etc.

But then I thought I better watch race 5 before writing anything.

And presumably you know how that went.

ETNZ racing

Big f**king winners

Oracle racing

Big f**king losers

I will say I am glad I was wrong in one respect: in the end the closest racing in these boats has come in the finals, which is how it should be. I will watch all remaining races with great interest, as should you all. Never before in the history of sailing have we been able to watch one 72-foot yacht traveling at 30-40 knots luff up hard at close quarters into another yacht of the same species, running at the same speeds, in a short round-the-buoys race.

If you don’t think that’s interesting or exciting, then you obviously have misplaced your brain somewhere.

I also have two suggestions: 1) if I were Larry Ellison I would interrogate all my paid employees closely until I found out exactly who did what in this AC World Series cheating scandal, then I would personally dismember all guilty parties and throw their body parts in the bay; and 2) if I were the Kiwis I’d insist that all cheating sanctions against Oracle be removed, just to keep things interesting a little while longer.

Meanwhile, whether suggestion no. 2 is seized upon or not, my previous offer re taking any odds that the Kiwis will win still stands.

AC72 goes turtle

Not a great day for the yanks as their entry for the Americas Cup goes over in testing.

That is going to cost a sweet penny to fix. Suddenly the New Zealand entry looks stronger …..


Oracle Team USA’s AC72 has capsized during training. The incident occurred at approximately 1500PT on San Francisco Bay. All crew and team members are safe. It was the boat’s eighth day on the water since the launch in August.

The capsize took place during the team’s eighth day on the water. Conditions were fresh, with building winds whipping up waves against one of the strongest ebb currents of the year. As the team turned the boat downwind, the front of the boat nosedived and the boat pitch-poled.

As tactician Tom Slingsby described it: “We called for a bear-away as we were out training. The winds were blowing about 25 knots, and there was strong ebb current at the time. We started the bear-away, and as the boat accelerated it pitch-poled.

“We didn’t know what was going to happen with the new boat. When the nose went down, the wing hit and a few guys went in the water. We were unsure if the wing would snap, so we all climbed off the boat.

“Luckily, everyone is accounted for and no one was hurt. The wing is pretty badly damaged, and we are working to get the boat back in position to return to Pier 80.”

The crew and boat will return to the team base at Pier 80 in San Francisco and assess the situation further.

Images of the boat after the incident show that the flaps were separated from the main element on the impact, the wing subsequently destroyed as the big cat lay over on its side in increasingly large waves as it was washed out to sea on the strong ebb tide.

As darkness fell, the team was still working to secure the catamaran platform and bring it back to base. The wing is destroyed.

“There’s no question this is a setback. This will be a big test for our team,” said skipper Jimmy Spithill. “But I’ve seen these guys in a similar situation in the past campaign before we won the America’s Cup. A strong team will bounce back from it. This won’t stop us from winning the America’s Cup.”

Event organizers say the setback to the American team won’t impact the 2013 racing calendar.

“This is a challenge for Oracle Team USA,” said Stephen Barclay, the CEO of the 34th America’s Cup. “The team will assess how to fix the damage caused by the capsize to this boat and will adjust its program as necessary. We expect them to be ready to defend the Cup as planned.”

Why the new Americas Cup will be awful

Yes it is pushing the boundaries and yes this will filter down to the masses ….. but sailing on big cats with wing masts is boring. The are too fast for tactical 20 tacks up a beat sailing. They are too big for their speed to be really seen. They are too far out to sea. When it goes wrong it goes bad …..

I would rather watch laser or finn class olympics or the Melges 24 worlds or the match racing circuit than any of this rubbish.

Here is Oracle making a small mistake and getting wiped out …..

What do you think? Let me know what would make Americas Cup exciting for you?