I crossed the Atlantic in 11 1/2 days this summer. For someone of my generation this was special. I never expect to repeat this experience. But I am still on a slow boat in today’s world.
The America’s Cup will never go back to non foiling boats. I still predict that the next Olympics will have at least one foiling class, if not two. No one is looking back, unless it is to true classic yachts. That is for different reasons of beauty and elegance.
With a minimum of fanfare, Team New Zealand recently appointed just the third skipper in their 20-year existence.
The fact Glenn Ashby is not a New Zealander and not even a helmsman has created no ripples. Probably it is because the manner of his predecessor’s departure captured all the headlines; possibly it is because he’s such a driver of the team culture that he is viewed among his teammates as an honorary Kiwi.
“I’m honoured to have the team put me in this position,” the 37-year-old Victorian, who is also director of sailing, said. “I really feel as a group we’re in a really strong position going forward and that’s one of the reasons I rejoined Emirates Team New Zealand.”
It wouldn’t have been because of money. Ashby’s multihull pedigree – he was an Olympic silver medallist in the Tornado and the owner of eight consecutive A-Class world championships – and form meant he was a hot commodity after the last America’s Cup.
He could have signed for a lot more with other teams, but eventually chose to stay because, well, he liked the place.
“Having come from Oracle in the [Valencia] campaign, the Team New Zealand culture suits me very well.
“The work ethic, the culture of the team where everyone has everybody’s back and we crossover [between design, build, shore and sailing] to make sure no stone is unturned in any department is something I really enjoyed.
“It was a big influence for me re-signing. While things have been tough over the past 12 months, I [believe] that the people who are really important to the team are still with the team. It gives us the opportunity to step forward and make some big gains.
“Culturally, Team New Zealand is the strongest team in the America’s Cup at the moment.”
That might be surprising to hear given that there has been a big, black cloud hovering over Halsey St that has proved difficult to shift. The threat of closure if more Government money wasn’t forthcoming did not play out well and the departure of popular skipper Dean Barker was messier than mealtime at a daycare centre, but Ashby’s optimism remains undimmed.
After the first week of racing in the America’s Cup World Series, which saw Team NZ finish a creditable second at Portsmouth, his belief has increased. This was his first regatta as skipper and wunderkind Peter Burling’s first time at the helm and he liked what he saw.
“I recognised three or four years ago that continuing to raise the bar right through our sailing programme was really important. He [Burling] was recognised not just by myself, but a lot of the other team members as well. Peter and Blair Tuke were the sort of guys with the attributes we were looking for going forward.
“They were certainly identified as huge talents … . They’re at the top end of their [49er] Olympic sailing programme and in the high-performance world of yachting that we’re now in, this type of sailing really suits those younger guys.”
Ashby said that as a wing trimmer, he had no aspirations to be skipper. Certainly the move has caught some by surprise, though its logic is hard to fault. While it is normal for the helmsman to be skipper, Team NZ bosses feel there is already enough pressure on Burling, 24, without him having to deal with the peripheral issues.
Finally getting back on the water made the elevation feel more real, Ashby said.
“Absolutely. For me, being a yachtsman, the racing side of things for me is the thing that makes me tick.
“The last America’s Cup, that was tough how it ended, and the past 18 months have been tough, but that’s sport, that’s life, and I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge.”
• Just Team NZ’s third skipper.
• Hails from inland Bendigo, Victoria.
• Lives at the Mornington Peninsula, Australia, and Pt Chevalier, Auckland.
• Silver medal at the 2008 Olympics with Darren Bundock.
• Multiple multihull world champion.
Time and distance tend to impart a rosy glow, so before you guys turn the recently departed Alan Bond into some kind of sailing saint, please pause to learn some of the more pertinent realities of the man who headed Australia’s successful challenge for the America’s Cup in 1983. Here goes:
Bond was not Australian born. He emigrated here from the UK aged 11. He had a criminal record as a 14-year-old in Perth for petty theft, and fell foul of the law again at 18 for attempted burglary. Throughout his life he lied about his school record and achievements. From his early 20s he had set a pattern of not paying his business debts and borrowing beyond his capacity to pay.
Bond is still the biggest corporate criminal in Australian history. When his empire collapsed in 1991 he left the banks, financiers and shareholders around $6 billion out of pocket. He ruined thousands of lives through deliberate bankruptcies that left his mum & dad shareholders with nothing.
Bond was convicted three times for different frauds. In 1997 he was sentenced to seven years in prison for siphoning off $1.2 billion in shareholder funds for his own use. In an attempt to avoid a jail term Bond feigned mental illness. His daughter died of a suspected drug overdose and his second wife committed suicide.
As for his contribution to sailing, his America’s Cup campaigns were principally exercises in self promotion and largely financed by borrowed money. Bond was a notoriously hopeless yachtsman himself, and did little to encourage or support sailing in Australia beyond the very narrow and exclusive circle of the 12 metre scene.
Alan Bond, the controversial business tycoon who backed Australia’s ultimately successful bid for the America’s Cup yacht race, has died aged 77. He was just 12 years old when he stepped ashore in Australia for the first time. His parents, Frank and Kathleen, like many thousands of Britons in the aftermath of the second world war, had taken the momentous decision to emigrate from the grey austerity of northern Europe to the sun-kissed southern hemisphere.
Young Alan, born in Hammersmith, west London, was plucked from Perivale school in Ealing and on arrival in Australia attended Fremantle boys’ school near Perth. He took a job as a signwriter on leaving school, but quickly realised that his future lay in business. Such was his talent and determination that before he reached his 40s, his name was known throughout Australia and beyond. In 1978 he was named Australian of the year.
His fortune was derived initially from property development, an activity which he started soon after leaving school. In 1959 he set up Bond Corporation, one of the first true “conglomerates” (corporate entities which own other, quite disparate, businesses), a form of entrepreneurship that came to dominate the stock markets internationally during the 1970s and continues to this day.
Outside the business world, however, Bond achieved fame and honour for his dedicated pursuit of the America’s Cup, the world’s most prestigious yacht racing trophy. He financed the first America’s Cup challenge in 1974, but it took a further three attempts before, in 1983, the 12-metre yacht Australia II brought the Auld Mug to the Royal Perth Yacht Club. It was the first time the trophy had been wrested from the New York Yacht Club since the competition was set up in 1851. Bond had bankrolled all four attempts, and his status as a national hero was confirmed.
Bond was big of build and charismatic of nature, and his status and personality undoubtedly contributed to an extraordinary run of successes in business. His Bond Corporation expanded from property into brewing, oil and gas, television, mineral exploitation and even airships. His personal fortune mounted up until he could be counted as one of the richest men in Australia, worth billions of dollars.
He was courted and feted by politicians anxious for his patronage, and bankers and brokers wanting his business. In an interview many years later, Bond admitted that all this had gone to his head. He confessed that he believed that if he had won the America’s Cup, was there nothing he could not do?
“Bondy”, as he was universally known, and his first wife, Eileen (nee Hughes), were seldom out of the society columns. He moved between Australia and London, where his business interests were also developing. Four years after the America’s Cup triumph, Bond paid US$53.9m for Van Gogh’s Irises, at the time the largest sum ever paid for a single painting.
Earlier in 1987, Bond purchased the Australian television network Channel Nine from Kerry Packer, a fellow Australian tycoon, for A$1.2bn, a deal that was to be the high-water mark of Bond’s success. In October that year, stock markets around the world crashed, an event that proved catastrophic for Bond and many other entrepreneurs.
As he struggled to keep his empire afloat, his personal life also suffered. In 1990, his marriage of 35 years was dissolved. Under pressure from the banks, that year he stepped down as chairman of Bond Corporation, which was collapsing under a mountain of debt. He began to believe that those who once feted him had been working to bring him down.
A year later, Bond Corporation finally went under, with Bond’s personal and corporate businesses inextricably entwined. He always insisted, however, that there was “no dishonesty” in the group or in the interlocking finances.
In 1992, he was declared personally bankrupt over a loan guarantee. He was accused of secreting away money and real assets such as diamonds and art treasures in overseas locations, places where neither the authorities nor his creditors could touch them. He claimed to have personally lost A$900m.
Nevertheless, he was jailed for dishonesty in relation to an Australian merchant bank, Rothwells, that had collapsed. He spent three months in prison but was later released and acquitted. Meanwhile, despite having other charges hanging over him, which led to two more convictions and prison sentences in 1995 and 1997, Bond was already beginning to lay down the foundations of a second life and a second career. He spent a total of four years in jail.
In 1995, he was released from bankruptcy. He married for the second time, and once again Bond and his new wife, Diana Bliss, began to appear in society. She was a former Qantas flight attendant whom Bond had met when she was working in public relations. Banned from holding directorships in Australia, Bond moved his centre of business overseas. He acquired interests in diamonds and oil, mostly in Africa. He lived in London but based his business interests elsewhere.
While his wealth steadily accumulated, much to the chagrin of investors who had lost money in the earlier Bond ventures, his personal life was more difficult. One of his daughters, Susanne, an equestrian show jumper, died in 2000 from a suspected accidental overdose of prescription medicine. Diana, who had carved a successful career as a theatre director, took her own life in 2012.
Bond was knocked back by these tragedies but found solace in Farm Street, the Jesuit church in Mayfair, London. His own health, however, was deteriorating. He had undergone open heart surgery in the 1990s, and in the week of his death returned to Perth for further surgery. His first wife, Eileen, travelled to Australia to be by his side.
He is survived by her, and by his sons, John and Craig, and daughter Jody.
• Alan Bond, businessman, born 22 April 1938; died 5 June 2015
• This article was amended on 5 June. A reference to Alan Bond’s second wife, Diana, being given the nickname “Big Red” by gossip columnists was deleted: it was his first wife, Eileen, whom they had given the nickname to.
Tom Ehman’s Golden Gate Yacht Club Challenge already made its first political change – it’s now known as the SF Yacht Racing Challenge to keep from pissing off the rest of the Bay Area clubs. One sneaky anarchist attended an Ehman presentation about this ‘outside the box’ event for the age-advanced, and here are the details we’ve scooped up:
+ The new class will be known as Super 12s, and will be more of a ‘Spirit of Tradition’ version of a 12 rather than a real one. A Grand Prix (post-1983) 12 above the waterline, a modern fin-keel yacht below. Carbon-composite hull, deck and rig.
+ Strict OD including deck hardware and sails (lesson learned from Volvo) for the obvious cost savings, as well as to make it a crew contest, not a design/budget battle. Draft will be under 10? – they’re shooting for 9’5? – both for access to area clubs and to commercial yards.
+ Boats are expected to be convertible to a charter life after their competitive lifespan ends.
+ Crews will have a strict nationality requirement (passports?) as well as an interesting diversity requirement: each crew will need to include a minimum of two women and two men as well as two aged 22 or younger, and one aged 62 or older. College sailors should be eligible through their senior year, and the total crew size will be 12.
+Teams will have to work with local YCs/marinas/yards to create a base in an existing facility – no building out of own piers for a team base that is separate from existing local sailing community
+ Fleet racing and match racing finals will take place on the San Francisco city front for 2 weeks in July, when average afternoon (1300-1800) wind speed on the Bay is 13kts or more virtually 100% of the time (13-30kts). There will be no upper wind limit; lower wind limit of 5 knots or so, though stats say it ain’t gonna happen much, if at all. “Hell or high water” is what we were told.
+An East Coast venue will likely come into play within the first couple of years, and our guess is an obvious one: Newport. We can see Annapolis trying to regain some of the luster they’ve lost as one of America’s real sailing cities…other than that pesky problem with having breeze.
+The boats should cost somewhere between 2 and 3 million, and the campaign another 500k to 1M.
Several Italians are apparently quite keen; we’d hope to see Vincenzo and Patrizio back in the kind of racing they both enjoy. Here’s an Italian take on it.
America’s Cup designer Loick Peyron says changes to boat sizes have been ‘brutal’
Sailing great Loick Peyron admits changes were needed but wonders whether America’s Cup bosses have gone too far.
A yacht racing and design guru has described the America’s Cup changes as “brutal” and wondered if the radical revamp has gone “too far”.
Frenchman Loick Peyron is part of Artemis Racing’s design “dream team”, providing an ability to transfer his long and successful racing career into performance gains with the radical foiling catamarans.
America’s Cup bosses caused controversy with their recent decision to reduce the boats from 62-feet to 48-feet and include several one-design elements to cut costs mid-cycle on the way to Bermuda 2017.
Swedish syndicate Artemis were part of the majority that backed that move along with cup holders Oracle and fellow challengers Team France and Ben Ainslie Racing (Britain). Team New Zealand were against the moves.
But Peyron, who sailed in Alinghi’s failed cup defence in 2010 and was part of Artemis’ troubled challenge in 2013, has admitted some personal concerns.
Asked by Yacht Racing Forum how he welcomed the news, Peyron responded: “It has been a bit brutal, although we were kind of expecting it. We had done a lot of work on our 62′ which will, hopefully, not be useless. Under the leadership of Iain Percy, we were working on our systems, in order to manage our appendages and our wing, and we’ll keep doing this, just at a smaller scale.”
Peyron said the changes meant the America’s Cup had lost the “big sailing team” aspect that set it apart in the sport.
“All you need now is a helmsman, a wing-trimmer and a group of hamsters to pump your hydraulics … maybe it’s gone a bit too far: too much muscle and not enough brain, we’ll see. But luckily for the white hairs, this game, like many others, needs experience,” he said.
Peyron suggested this was a transition period that would “favour participation”. Already Japan have re-emerged with a late challenge under the adjusted format and Team France have described the changes as a lifeline to their struggling budget.
“I would personally prefer bigger boats, where the choreography and other unique skills are really important. Hopefully foiling boat speed and “spectacle quality” are not linked to the size,” Peyron said before acknowledging the inevitability of progress through downscaling.
“These changes in the cup had to be done, even if some of them seem painful. We want to offer the best sport show ever, and it will be the case again.”
Peyron is a long-distance specialist who holds the record for the fastest circumnavigation of the world and has become a multihull specialist.
Even Bob Fisher, who as a journalist has always loved being an iconoclast is disturbed by the events leading up to the next America’s Cup to be held in Bermuda in 2017. Below are the words he penned for scuttlebutt:
Bob Fisher: Disgracing the America’s Cup
Published on April 11, 2015 |
Bob Fisher knows the America’s Cup, perhaps better than anyone. His books and articles have covered the event since 1851, and he considers the event unmatched in its history and intrigue. But what Bob sees now occurring for the 2017 edition gives him grave concern. Here are his words to the current trustee, Golden Gate Yacht Club…
I cannot escape notice of what you are doing to the America’s Cup – it has been nothing short of a disgrace to the premier event in the sport of Sailing. You have abused it, misused it and reduced it to no more than an average regatta, losing on the way its prestige and at the same time driven away the most serious competitors.
In the last America’s Cup event, held on the waters of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, for whom you act in a management role, the two challengers that came up to the mark were those from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the Circolo della Vela Sicilia – Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) and Luna Rossa. In the course of the past week you have made it virtually impossible for ETNZ to raise the necessary funds to continue by removing any chance of a major regatta in Auckland, and, by a huge change in the size of boat, caused the Italian team to withdraw. Is this what you really want?
Gone is all semblance of stability and adherence to rules unanimously agreed at the outset and in their place an undercurrent of commercial misunderstanding and constantly changing rules without the unanimity of the challengers as initially agreed. Both of these are a disgrace to the Cup and to yourselves.
It was brought to my notice by you, in Auckland, that it was important for a part of the Challenger Final Selection Series to be held in the City of Sails in order to generate publicity for the America’s Cup in Asia and the reason for that was a Japanese team would shortly emerge, and that this would encourage television networks to purchase the rights.
Subsequently, the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) has made it clear that ALL Challenger Selection races will be held in Bermuda, effectively slapping ETNZ in the face and reducing the Kiwis’ chances of Government sponsorship (which hung on a major AC regatta in Auckland), possibly even eliminating this team from AC35
It is unnecessary for the America’s Cup to have a television audience. For many years there was no television coverage, and later only inserts into News programmes. Televising the event began in 1983 and was carried to a new height by ESPN in 1987 in Fremantle. Even then it didn’t need catamarans on hydrofoils sailing at 40 knots to be attractive – just 12-Metre yachts in boisterous conditions with some live sound from the boats.
Now, thanks to the wizardry of Stan Honey and his colleagues, full details of the speed and direction of each of the competitors is overlaid on the live pictures of the racing. The technology of other sports has improved television for even the non-sailor, but this does not drive the America’s Cup. Money does. And there will certainly not be enough from television rights to pay for the somewhat unnecessary regattas that take place using the name of the event that has, over 164 years, taken place only 34 times.
The America’s Cup is a one-off event. It does not need promoting with pseudo regattas in the intervening years, which use its name. The Challenger Selection Trials, together with the long lost Defender Selection Trials, are adequate and the responsibility for their expense is down to the individual teams. Now there is a state of affairs in which the Defender trials have been eliminated. In the Protocol, Item 17 clearly states:
“Defender means GGYC and the sailing team that represents GGYC in AC35;”
You have excluded any chance of another US Yacht Club from competing for the Cup, maybe even giving GGYC the type of competition it needs to retain the Cup. Not even the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) felt sufficiently confident to resort to that.
Neither did the NYYC resort to changing the boats at a late date – the move from the AC-62 to the AC-48 has been very last minute and particularly hard on the teams that had set up their design groups well in advance to produce the smaller AC-62, as announced soon after the last AC match. It is hardly surprising that you have put Patrizio Bertelli’s feelings in disarray to the extent he has withdrawn Luna Rossa from AC35. His team had been working since early January 2014 at its headquarters in Cagliari with a Design Office of 40, all working on the design of a 62-footer. I suppose your comment will be: “Silly him,” but you have lost one of the biggest commercial sponsors of the Cup – just look where the Prada advertisements for Luna Rossa appear.
To throw fat on the fire, you are offering to give design and financial support to the French team, which has made little progress, and what is worse attempting to justify this with the terms of the Deed of Gift, where it indicates that the event is to be: “a friendly competition between foreign nations.” But you may well counter this with the quote from the judge of the New York Court of Appeals in the case between the Mercury Bay Boating Club and San Diego Yacht Club, who queried: “Where in the Deed of Gift does it say the America’s Cup is supposed to be fair?”
The loss of Louis Vuitton, after 30 years, is another huge loss of commercial sponsorship, but the writing for that was on the wall in San Francisco.
Everything this time around has been late, and bringing in new entries at this stage is another breach of the Protocol. I implore you to get your act together, remember the event with which you are dealing, with its glorious past, and begin to act in a proper manner.
Bruno Troublé: This is definitely NOT the America’s Cup
Bruno Troublé, a 2007 inductee to the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, has immense passion for the event.
After skippering two French challenges in 1977 and 1980, Bruno identified the opportunity to enhance the importance of the challenger selection series of the Cup. In 1983, he worked to create the Louis Vuitton Cup series, which continued until 2007, to select the Cup challenger.
But shifting sands has seen the Louis Vuitton brand lose interest, and while Bruno continued to work tirelessly to maintain the magic and tradition of the America’s Cup, he no longer recognizes what it has become. Here he comments…
I am away on my boat in Venice, enjoying spring in La Serenissima, far from the boiling controversy of the America’s Cup. All those witches and sorcerers trying to do good to the America’s Cup are instead slowly killing her. There have been so many mistakes over the last couple years!
Golden Gate Yacht Club, and their Oracle Team USA, are great sailors but hopeless guards of the Myth. They managed to kill the style and elegance which prevailed for decades, those unique aspects of the America’s Cup for which was our main aim at Louis Vuitton for 30 years.
They have discouraged the high level partners and put an end to the exclusive positioning of THE Cup. They have betrayed the long saga of incredible personalities who made the Cup so special. And they are now organizing a one design catamaran contest with no style and anonymous people beyond the sailing circles.
What we have now is a vulgar beach event smelling of sunscreen and french fries. This is definitely