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Sailing Towards Football…

October 5th, 2013 · No Comments

So it’s been over now for a week-plus, (or more) and probably most of Y’all don’t even know about it, right? Although appropriately named, it AIN’T duh Vince Lombardi trophy I’m talking about… And while our nation is awash in football - I’m thinking of an entirely different sport as I’m still somewhat captivated by the world’s oldest International trophy competition ironically known as the America’s Cup, where the ‘Ald Mug has been cherished for some 162-years now.

And I suppose what intrigues me most is the amazing amount of technology poured into this sport, arguably the Formula 1 of Yacht racing, as F1 is deemed the pinnacle of motorsports and hence the America’s Cup likewise, albeit both sports seem to be in a bit of perilous financial risk due to their ever escalating costs - as NO Government Shutdown jokes here…

This year’s America’s Cup contest, the 34th event, roughly held once every four years a la the Olympics was held upon San Francisco Bay as Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA (OTUSA) was the Cup Defender, hence given the choice of regatta location and boat design laid out in the Deed of Gift.

Ellison, the 69-year old Billionaire co-founder of Oracle Software, who’s currently under harsh criticism for his exorbitant salary as CEO, having been paid $$76.9-million in compensation this past May, after having graciously forsaken a $1.2m bonus for failing to meet performance targets, and on the heels of a $96.4m salary the year prior - simply sails his own course upon having ditched 60,000 attendees at his very own Oracle World conference this year in order to watch his yacht from his private chase boat instead, as Ellison simply hates to lose…

And this year’s competition had a little bit of everything, unfortunately including the tragic death of renown British Olympics Gold & Silver medalist sailor Andrew “Bart” Simpson who died at the age of 36 upon being trapped underneath Swedish syndicate Artemis’s capsized AC72 Catamaran for ten minutes during a training exercise.

Although Artemis valiantly rebounded to enter its second yacht, it was never effectively in the running for the Louis Vuitton Cup, which the winner of the challenging syndicates is awarded en route to racing the Cup’s Defender for the elusive Ald Mug.

Having won the trophy back in 2010 in a two boat sail-off in a beastly ninety foot trimaran with a monstrous 223-foot Wingsail (main sail) entirely made out of composites, Ellison chose to race upon home soil after reaching agreement with the Golden Gate Yacht Club to host his defense, having chosen San Francisco’s bay in order to capture the panoramic background of the famous Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island in swoopy seventy-two foot high speed Catamaran’s with a towering thirteen stories tall (132-feet) carbon fibre composite Wingsail propelling the yacht’s to speeds in excess of 40-knots. (46mph)

Yet after Simpson’s death naturally investigation’s were launched into the cause and a host of rules changes were proposed which were immediately challenged in a lawsuit by the teams of New Zealand and Italy, as they claimed that the required modifications would favour the Defender, OTUSA, as Italy’s syndicate Luna Rossa even went so far as to sit out a round of competition whilst awaiting the court’s decision, which ruled in favour of the two challenger’s.

And whilst Ellison and Oracle Team USA syndicate boss Sir Russell Coutts AC72’s were envisioned to bring about multitude’s of challengers in the new America’s Cup yacht class, only three teams showed up upon San Fran as these carbon fibre masterpieces cost their respective syndicates over $100-million apiece to compete!

In the Louis Vuitton round-robin series, Luna Rossa easily dusted off the rebounding Artemis boat, which was merely seeking an emotional victory by simply being able to get its second boat in the water, while Emirates New Zealand awaited the victor, before handily defeating Luna Rossa, as the ‘Kiwi Cat’ looked the boat to beat, having perfected its “foiling” (hydro foiling) techniques - most notably upwind, where the ever creaking carbon hulls lift out of the water to ride upon small daggerboards while skimming thru the water!

Yet, in what may have been part of its eventual advantage, only the Defender was granted access to all of its competitors data, whilst the challengers were precluded from receiving like data from OTUSA.

and then major embarrassment struck Oracle Team USA, which was found guilty of having cheated in the preliminary rounds of preparations for the America’s Cup challenge when having made illegal weight ballast modifications to its AC45 boats, as the 45-foot Cat’s were seen as a training ground for the eventual AC72 class yachts… As OTUSA was given a two point penalty along with having key sailing members excluded from competing and thus in the winner take all best-of-17 match final, the Americans would start off on minus-two (-2) and would need to win 11-matches to retain the cup.

In what would become the longest ever America’s Cup event, lasting a staggering 17-days due to constantly fluctuating winds and currents, the Kiwi’s rocketed off to an eventual 8-1 lead, tantalizingly close to returning the Ald Mug Down Under to New Zealand after having won it twice with Sir Russell Coutts at the helm.

As Emirates New Zealand looked like it could do nothing wrong, having even adverted what surely would have been a crippling blow, if not outright defeat when escaping a harrowing near miss “blow-over,” when the Kiwi’s hull dug into the water and came within a degree or two of capsizing!

Having been stuck upon match point, New Zealand would have won the vaunted cup when solidly leading during match-13 only to be denied victory when failing to finish the match within the required 40-minute maximum time allotment in the made-for-TV match racing, rounding the last mark just some four minutes late…

Yet in what is being heralded as one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history, the Kiwi’s were simply outclassed by Oracle Team USA’s ever improving boat speed, as we’ll never know how many extra millions Larry Ellison poured into boat development as the Americans gradually ate away at New Zealand’s once unflappable lead, as OTUSA came back round-by-round, ultimately forcing a deciding winner-take-all 17th match race with the two protagonists noted even at 8-8.

As it wasn’t to be for the Kiwi’s who did everything right, from winning the start to leading at the first two mark’s before simply being forced to watch Team America motor away on the course’s upwind leg to an eventual victory of 44-seconds over the devastated Kiwi’s.

As hopefully New Zealand will return for the 35th America’s Cup, whilst after OTUSA crossed the line to a jubilant victory upon the waterfront of San Francisco, Australia logged it’s entry for the next event as a challenger of record upon the 30th Anniversary of becoming the first foreigners to capture the America’s Cup Ald Mug from then defending New York Yacht Club and skipper Dennis Conner in 1983.

Dean Barker, skipper of the defeated Kiwi’s has already pronounced that the wolfs are at the door trying to poach away valuable crew and a decision is needed quickly if the tiny nation of 4.5-million people, which is smaller than my home state of Washington’s 6.9m population is to try again to wrestle the elusive Ald Mug away from Larry Ellison & Co.

Meanwhile further north along the Pacific Ocean, nestled near the shores of Puget Sound whilst the sailors arduous battle raged on, a deafening roar was heard across the nation as the world’s LOUDEST stadium according to Guinness records was awash in delirium over their home town Seattle Seahawks thorough shellacking of conference rival San Francisco 49ers. As even a one hour lightning delay couldn’t stop the Hawks from crushing San Fran 29-3 in front of a record 68,887 ravenous Seattleites at Century Link Field, who broke the Guinness record for noise and then broke their own record with a staggering 136.6 decibels being recorded upon a crushing sack of 49ers Quarter Back “Cap’t K,” albeit Colin KKaepernick looked more like Captain Krunched upon this play! As the mighty Seahawks would go on to give “Mr. Excitement,” aka Pete Carroll a wonderful 62nd birthday present with their trouncing over rival Jim Harbaugh.

Then a week later the Indianapolis Colts rolled into the Bay and whooped up on San Fran once again to give the 49ers their second defeat in-a-row, with Andrew Luck leading the Colts to a 27-7 “W.” As I along with many in the Pacific Northwest eagerly await the upcoming showdown in Indianapolis between the 4-0 Seahawks and the 3-1 Colts; GO HAWKS!

While even funnier yet, since I can somewhat relate to the obscene wall-to-wall 24/7 Hypefest over all things football, especially the NFL is this rather funny look upon trying to skip discussing the never ending tossing of thee ‘Pigskin for five weeks…

Can I complete the 5th week without watching Football?

Tags: Racing · Misc

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