I assembled this a few years ago because even I forget some of the boats and events I sailed. Still fond memories; and still making more.
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.
While intended to help some struggling syndicates, the unprecedented move would also reduce the status and prestige of sailing’s marquee regatta, not to mention the sizzle generated when the 2013 America’s Cup was sailed in cutting-edge, 72-foot catamarans.
And it could be troublesome. Not all teams are believed to be in favor of going from plans to sail the 2017 America’s Cup in 62-foot catamarans to apparently sailing it in 45-foot catamarans.
A news release issued late Wednesday said the changes are being drafted and teams will be asked to vote before the end of March. Normally, a decision like this must be approved unanimously. It’s believed Italy’s Luna Rossa is against the change.
Harvey Schiller, the America’s Cup commercial commissioner, said in the news release that reducing the size of the boat was discussed last year, but only Oracle and Emirates Team New Zealand were in favor.
Now that teams have seen the new souped-up 45s on the water, “there is a clear majority of competitors who support the idea,” Schiller said. “I’d like to be able to say we have unanimous support from all the teams but that is not the case.”
Schiller did not return a phone call and email seeking further comment.
At the time Bermuda won the right to host the 2017 America’s Cup by pledging up to $77 million in financial support, plans called for the regatta to be sailed in 62-foot cats. That would reduce costs in part since they require fewer sailors. Some teams have already started designing their 62-foot catamarans.
If teams switch to 45-footers, that’s the same size boats used in warmup regattas prior to the 2013 America’s Cup and in warmup regattas this year and next. It’s also a foot longer than the minimum size allowed by the 19th century Deed of Gift.
Two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA, which is owned by Ellison, has blurred the traditional lines between the defender and challengers, so it wasn’t clear who initiated the latest talk of reducing the size of the boats. Despite being one of the world’s richest men, it’s believed that Ellison has grown weary of pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into the America’s Cup and wants it to become more self-sustaining.
But teams and the event authority have struggled to raise money. There’s been speculation that two of the current five foreign challengers could drop out because of the staggering cost of competing, which would leave an embarrassingly small field of three challengers like in 2013. Team Australia dropped out last summer, citing the high costs.
Skippers from three foreign challengers — Ben Ainslie Racing of Britain, Team France and Artemis Racing of Sweden — were quoted in the news release as being in favor of the move to a smaller boat.
Team France skipper Franck Cammas called it “a game-changer. We will be able to have a very competitive team for about half the budget.”
Ainslie and Artemis’ Iain Percy alluded to the change helping the future of the America’s cup.
However, neither Emirates Team New Zealand, whose stunning collapse in 2013 allowed Oracle to keep the Auld Mug, nor Luna Rossa were mentioned in the release.
A Luna Rossa spokesman didn’t immediately return an email seeking comment.
Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton referred to a statement on the team’s Facebook page. That statement said the Kiwis suggested a reduction in boat size last year. “Since then time has passed with teams well advanced in their design process now and any ideas around change will need the full consultation and support of all the teams,” the statement said.
A smaller boat could save Team New Zealand. Struggling to raise money, the Kiwis could be forced to drop out if they don’t land a qualifying regatta in Auckland. European teams are known to be unhappy about the cost of shipping 62-foot catamarans halfway around the world to New Zealand. The 45-foot cats are easier to ship because they can be disassembled and loaded into containers.
A story behind every photo. In fact so many stories
IT’S OFFICIAL, BERMUDA.
word had been leaked some weeks ago, but there was no point in posting until it was official.
CLICK : HERE to track the boats in the race.
I have not written about sailing much recently. That does not mean I have not been watching. The Bermuda Race starts today from Castle Hill Light in Newport RI.
Based on the presentation for skippers, the rhumb line is the course to sail. I am certain there will be some who will search for the favorable eddy; it is a free ride after all.
Snow Lion is chartered to the Hubbards, they won the race a few years ago in their own boat. I had the pleasure of racing across the atlantic in 2005 on the same watch with them.( we won that as well)
This is a navigator’s race and the Gulf Stream is an obvious obstacle; however it must be considered in conjunction with the weather.
Safe sailing to everyone
The 1966 Bermuda Race was my first. The boat(“Gunievere” belonging to George Moffett, designed by Alan Guerney) on which I sailed is shown very briefly tied to the dock at Port O’ Call (now Bannister’s Wharf). We were never out of sight of our nearest competitor: Thor Ramsing’s “Solution”; finishing within a minute of one another.
I was working for John Nicholas Brown on his boat in Newport. He had given me the time off to do the race. I always considered that it was very generous of him because he did not use his own boat while I was away. I sailed another Bermuda race with “Guinevere” and a Transatlantic Race.