In the very first issue of “Talking Sailing” I was quite scathing about the build-up to the America’s Cup describing the racing as boring. I think it was then, but in the America’s Cup itself there was a massive transformation from boring to exciting.
I quickly became addicted to watching each race and seeing those massive 72′ cats perform at their optimum as they lifted out of the water on their foils to reach staggering speeds at a shade under 50-knots.
I also made it crystal clear that I wanted to see Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) win, but again I have changed tack. No, I am not deserting the poor Kiwis because they lost, but to see a team come back from 8 races down and on match point, to winning outright, was something very special indeed.
One of the lessons we can learn from it is quite simply to never give up – ever!
The other is self-belief, and every single crewman on Oracle Team USA (OTUSA) had bundles of self-belief too.
Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of OTUSA, kept saying that the event was not over and to not write them off. He was viewed as a bit of a loon as no-one ever thought that OTUSA had any chance of coming from that far back to win.
The rest is history with OTUSA staging one of the biggest comebacks in sporting history.
And talking of comebacks, OTUSA’s tactician Sir Ben Ainslie is no stranger to comebacks either. In the 2012 London Olympics when he was attempting his 4th gold medal, he was the underdog in the first 6 races and came back after that to take Gold. What a useful guy to have aboard.
I feel desperately sorry for the Kiwis as their loss must have been exceptionally hard to stomach, especially having been on match-point for so long. They were also exceptionally unlucky to have outsailed OTUSA convincingly only to be denied that race victory due to a time limit on the length of the race. That victory would have given them the America’s Cup.
Sport is cruel sometimes, very cruel.
At this stage no-one really knows what is going to happen with the next America’s Cup in terms of venue and boats.
It appears that the ‘Challenger of Record’ could be the Hamilton Island Yacht Club from Queensland, Australia, and funded by Bob Oatley of super-maxi Wild Oats XI fame. Incidently Oats is ranked No.31 on the 2013 BRW Rich 200 list, with a personal fortune of $1.14 billion. Will we see two billionaires slugging it out for supremacy, or will Larry Ellison call it a day now having won the America’s Cup twice?
But what boats are going to be used next time? Will it be in similar 72′ multihulls or the smaller 45′ multi, or will the event go back to monohulls? This is what everyone would like to know, but we have to be patient and wait for that.
Most of us are used to America’s Cup challengers being about man and boat, with the crew being vital in every aspect as trimmers, tacticians, grinders, halyard sweaters and the like. In this event the grinders were there to keep the hydraulics going, so they needed to be big strong guys and not necessarily good sailors.
We are also used to match racing tactics being played out, but this time, other than the fabled ‘hook’ at the start, the close quarters duelling was not really there. What is interesting is that in this year’s event there were more lead changes than in any previous event.
I personally found it disappointing that there were allegations of cheating levelled at OTUSA after their victory especially as Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts staged something which may well change the face of sailing as we know it, and which will be talked about for many, many years to come.
SAILING Mag correspondent Roy Dunster made the following observations regarding the America’s Cup and the cheating allegations:
Just for the record, a lot of people tend to have pretty short memories about this America’s Cup, maybe not surprising when you consider the rate of development in this class (remember the AC72s sailed for the first time 12 months ago). A few things to consider:
• The AC72 rule was specifically written to not enable hydrofoils (the hulls were meant to skim not fly).
The rule was actually part-written by Pete Melvin, one of the ETNZ designers.
• The specific parts of the rule that were meant to prevent the boats from flying were:
No moving surfaces (ie flaps) on the foils.
A minimum volume limitation on the canoe body (the hull) which then limited the amount of volume in the foils and, therefore, their ability to generate enough lift to raise the platform clear of the water.
• ETNZ found and exploited loopholes in the rules, namely:
They created control mechanisms to move the whole foil.
They also got a ruling from the international jury to allow their foils to be larger than what the rule initially had in mind – see http://noticeboard.americascup.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/JN051.pdf and http://www.sail-world.com/USA/Americas-Cup:-Jury-deflects-Artemis-claim-over-error-on-daggerboards/104080
• Note that both Artemis and Oracle originally believed that the rule made foiling impossible.
Russell Coutts was also one of the architects of the Class so would have got a big surprise with the jury’s ruling. To Oracle’s credit, they moved quickly to catch up.
There was an amusing anecdote in Seahorse magazine last year – Oracle was spying on ETNZ in New Zealand and their chase boat was unable to keep up with the Team New Zealand cat.
This must have been a serious wake-up call because the chase boat would, presumably, have been designed to be fast enough to stay with Spithill and co at the time.
Artemis had several disasters so, in effect, never caught up
• So (assuming Oracle did use the Stability Augmentation System), effectively where we are right now is that ETNZ has been “out loopholed…”
I can’t speak for the international jury or the New York Supreme Court but, effectively, ETNZ exploited the rules to make foiling possible in the AC but then didn’t use a 40 year old system to get their boat to work as well as it could have.
They are now a bit cross and, considering the implications for their team having come “2nd” in the AC the last 3 times they have sailed, it’s not surprising.
Whether or not they have a case is a separate issue.
Some other things to consider about AC34 and the America’s Cup in general:
• The America’s Cup has never been fair.
It is hard and expensive to win.
Large egos are involved.
It brings massive financial benefit to the city that hosts it.
It is perfectly rational for the defender to try and hold onto it.
To think this would have magically changed if ETNZ had won is, at best, naïve.
AC34 has been cited as being far too expensive.
There were just 4 teams in the end with around double that participating in AC45 (and learning how to sail very fast wing-sailed cats).
However, with only a year to go, there are only 2 confirmed teams for the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), despite the introduction of the VOR65 One-Design, specifically designed to save costs.
There have also not been any new TP52s launched this year (there will be a few in 2014 and 2015).
ie. Larry Ellison / Russell Coutts probably thought the global economy would have recovered sooner but, in reality, so did a lot of other people.
Given the VOR65 experience, maybe a budget of US$30 would still have been too much for most teams.
• It’s highly probable that Larry Ellison spent more money than any of the other campaigns.
This is his prerogative.
One should also remember the huge amount of money he spent on making the event understandable to the public at large and the incredible advances his team made – think:
eg, for the first time, the port entry is actually advantaged.
Penalties are now imposed in a sensible way which keeps the racing alive.
We should not underestimate the lateral thinking involved in making the rules work.
The quality of the television / YouTube coverage.
Making the racing visible to spectators on land.
The AC45s which are amazing boats in their own right.
The Junior America’s Cup was also a success and hopefully something that keeps going.
The AC72s which have given the America’s Cup and sailing in general a massive shot in the arm.
Of course, here we should also thank ETNZ for actually working out how to make them foil.
In short, bringing our sport into the 21st century and making it appealing to a broad audience.
It seems that there are people that will “hate” Oracle / Larry Ellison / Russell Coutts no matter what they do – there are a bunch of them on various forums and the term “fanatic” (A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject – Winston Churchill) comes to mind.
My view is that, as sailors, we should be incredibly grateful for what they have achieved. It takes serious brainpower to have the vision they had and then great courage to stay the course and make it happen, despite all the naysayers, and some of the things that went wrong along the way (think Andrew Simpson and the very one-sided Louis Vuitton Cup).
There are a whole lot of theories going round about why Oracle won AC34 – of course, the easy answer is to accuse Oracle of cheating. However, instead, rather consider the following:
• The most precious commodity in any major sailing campaign (including the VOR / Olympics / AC) is time.
ETNZ did the best job of optimising the use of their time before the start of the regatta.
Oracle understood how much they could develop their boat during the event.
Good VOR teams do this as well.
• Oracle had the best sailors
I rather think that Ben Ainslie was initially hired to drive the trial horse and to keep him out of other teams.
However, when the crunch came, Oracle had probably the best Big Match sailor in the world, who also happens to be strong enough to grind a winch and think at the same time.
As an aside, I don’t know if I was the only one that noticed that Oracle and ETNZ were on different tacks for most of the beat in the last race.
One of them had to be out of phase…
• Oracle had Russell Coutts
Russell Coutts has not lost an AC he has been involved in since 1995 (5 ACs for 3 different teams).
Maybe he’s the reason that Ben Ainslie was in the team and there was a process in place to keep optimising the boat…
Whatever our views, this was a very interesting America’s Cup with many positives for the sport of sailing, as well as a comeback that will be talked about for many years to come. Roll on the next one.
South African Sailor Wins Internationally
Having been through a purple patch recently I wondered where our next good quality results would come in, and how soon? It was not long as over the weekend Phillip Bendon, a member of ZVYC and Knysna, who is studying in the UK and now competes for Ireland, helmed the Irish team to victory in the European under 23 match racing event sailed in “blu26″ sportsboats which are sailed four-up
Phillip Bendon’s formative sailing years were spent in SA racing Optimists, Laser 4.7s and Laser Radials, making the national and provincial podiums on several occasions.
Bendon and his three crewmen beat a British team in the finals.
Promoting Local Sailing
Due to the lengthy America’s Cup coverage, this matter has been rolled over to the next issue of “Talking Sailing”.
Readers are encouraged to let me have their thoughts to get the ball rolling. Send comments to email@example.com
One response I have received said this:
This matter is no doubt the most important of all issues and we need to somehow understand how successful clubs get sailors onto the water locally…. What is that special ingredient?
Lost in Translation
Received recently from a reader:
This truly is a Google translation, not my own work! It sometimes is said that naval men converse in colourful language, but Google is taking its translation a bit too far, don’t you think?
I was looking for Afrikaans terms for Jib, Spinnaker and Genoa. Google spiced it up. In bad taste, yet rather surprising! I did not receive an answer from yachting and naval community in this regard but I did some further investigation.
Google Translate was asked to translate “I rigged a jib sail” to Afrikaans and it returned “ek het gehys ‘n fok seil.”
Since Google has added audio translation to its text translator, my only possible conclusion is this:
A jib is rigged forward.
Forward is the forecastle.
Forecastle is pronounced “fo’csle”
Google by mere fluke than anything else translated this into the broken Afrikaans due to the audio function…..
It remains uncertain as to how Google did make the connection. It has to be using complex algorithms that do not always produce a logical result.
Some Humour (thanks to Kevin Holmes)
Little Known Tidbit of Naval History…
The USS Constitution (Old Ironsides), as a combat vessel, carried 48,600 gallons of fresh water for her crew of 475 officers and men.
This was sufficient to last six months of sustained operations at sea. She carried no evaporators (i.e. fresh water distillers).
However, let it be noted that according to her ship’s log, “On July 27, 1798, the USS Constitution sailed from Boston with a full complement of 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of fresh water, 7,400 cannon shot, 11,600 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum.”
Her mission: “To destroy and harass English shipping.”
Making Jamaica on 6 October, she took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum.
Then she headed for the Azores , arriving there 12 November. She provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 64,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.
On 18 November, she set sail for England . In the ensuing days she defeated five British men-of-war and captured and scuttled 12 English merchant ships, salvaging only the rum aboard each.
By 26 January, her powder and shot were exhausted. Nevertheless, although unarmed she made a night raid up the Firth of Clyde in Scotland. Her landing party captured a whisky distillery and transferred 40,000 gallons of single malt Scotch aboard by dawn. Then she headed home.
The USS Constitution arrived in Boston on 20 February 1799, with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no wine, no whisky, and 38,600 gallons of water! GO NAVY!
Cape Town Boat Show – THIS WEEKEND
The CT Boat Show is on again this weekend from Friday to Sunday 4-6 October. It’s always a good show with lots to see on the stands in the ICC or on the water near the Cape Grace.
SAILING Publications will be exhibiting on the show so come in for a chat, browse our large selection of books on sailing, or subscribe to SAILING Mag.
Everyone who subscribes or renews a subscription before 31 October will stand a chance of winning a Timberland Washington Summit outdoor/sailing watch. The winners, as there are 2 watches up for grabs, will be determined by lucky draw.
Some Selected Responses to “Talking Sailing”
* Thanks for the initiative of “Talking Sailing”. A great idea, and we feel like we’re getting a whole extra mag for free!
* Congratulations on your wonderful news letter. It is really a breath of fresh air to read something which is not “politically correct”. Please keep it up.
You note the lack of crew and new club members. Some of this might be the result of the new rule that only club members can crew in major regattas. We can not invite a friend or even a member of a foreign club to crew. In the past we could pay R50 to do this but that is now not allowed. Surely we should make it easy to introduce new people to our wonderful sport of yacht racing. This is sure to be picked up in the future under the ‘Promoting Local Sailing’ heading. ED.
* I look forward to this communication and find the content fascinating and topical. Keep up the good work.
* Once again, a very thought-provoking and interesting edition – you’re setting the bar rather high for yourself! I Support all you have to say about Roger & Asenathi – lovely, salt-of-the-earth humble people always ready to share their knowledge as we’ve seen at the Vlei. Bravo Zulu Team Rainbow Nation!
* As I understand it, the Racing Rules of Sailing do not allow for compulsory briefings.
* Reference “The Bitter End” and the compulsory pre-event Skipper’s Briefing, I think you’ll find an ISAF Test case in which this was deemed unenforceable on appeal by a hacked-off sailor. It goes back a good few years.
Furthermore, the US Sailing Race Management Manual dissuades event organizers from holding Skipper’s Briefings as what is not in the NoR or SI’s has no verbal standing!
The Bitter End
Self-important officials who like the sound of their own voice by insisting on verbal briefings! See reference immediately above.
The ‘Bitter End’ is the inboard end of an anchor chain or rode which should be attached to the vessel so as not to be lost overboard in it’s entirety. In terms of “Talking Sailing” it’s things about our sport which get up peoples noses!
“Talking Sailing” is written by Richard Crockett, the Publisher & Editor of SAILING Magazine, South Africa’s monthly sailing mag.