The Maritime Report: Some thoughts on Oracle's win

The Maritime Report: Some thoughts on Oracle's win

Dave Bloch

Photo courtesy of S.A. Kushinka.

Is it really over? After the months of negotiations between Larry Ellison's people and the City of San Francisco, then the year of AC45 races in several cities in the U.S. and Europe, the Artemis Racing tragedy in May 2013, then the infamous "one-boat races" in what should have been the round robin that followed it, the one-sided contest between Luna Rossa and Artemis, and then the equally unbalanced series between New Zealand and Luna Rossa ...

Then began the America's Cup itself, with Emirates Team New Zealand challenging Oracle Team USA for the trophy itself. As the races began, and ETNZ won race after race, those in the news and sports media who were paying attention (and, in this country, there weren't many) scoffed at the Oracle team, and at the event in general, as being an embarrassment and a waste of time and money. The USA was being blown out by the Kiwis, and Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing was going to give up the Cup. Meanwhile in Auckland, the plans for the victory parade were being pulled together for the imminent return of their amazing team.

And then it all changed. Oracle played their one "postponement card" after badly losing a race to ETNZ. They needed to regroup; study the videos and the data; make changes to their boat and to their crew.

The changes took effect. Oracle's boat got faster, and faster. They were getting up on their foils sooner than New Zealand, and were able to stay on them in lighter wind than New Zealand. Getting ahead of ETNZ earlier in the race negated the Kiwis' excellent upwind tactics; they were far enough in front that those tricks no longer mattered. Today they did what nobody (except, possibly, the Oracle team itself) thought was possible: Oracle Team USA finished winning eight races in a row, completely shutting out the seemingly invincible Emirates Team New Zealand.

So the "Auld Mug" as it is sometimes known will stay in the hands of Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing, sailing under the auspices of San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club. There is a lot being written about this regatta right now (suddenly sports writers everywhere, silent or derogatory all summer, have decided this was a fantastic sports event!) and there will be a lot more. Your reporter will try to put together his own story of experiencing this 34th America's Cup event in as many ways as possible since attending San Francisco Board of Supervisors' meetings during the negotiation phase.

But I'll make this article short, and finish with the questions that are already kicking around the sailing community here in Alameda:

Will Larry Ellison bring the next Cup back to San Francisco Bay? He could choose to take it to Newport, RI, which courted him seriously this time.

Will we see anything like these big catamarans again? Big, fast, dangerous, universally criticized until - literally - one week ago.

Will Artemis Racing keep a presence here in Alameda, since Oracle won the Cup? The team has a good deal leasing that Alameda Point airplane hangar, their team members love it here, and you can do worse than having San Francisco Bay to build a team that new Team Manager Iain Percy wants to make "the dominant force in racing for the next decade."

Lots of great things happened; lots of other things did not go so well. But one thing is for sure: Hundreds of thousands of people who never dreamed they would watch a sailboat race sure did get excited about them over this last couple of weeks. Larry Ellison and Oracle Racing did give us all that gift.


Submitted by edie (not verified) on Thu, Sep 26, 2013

I was so nervous about it that I did no wanted to watch it, but to see the scores at about 230PM., and o boy they were magnificent!!!