Tag: America’s Cup

The America’s Cup 2021 – The Challengers

In case you weren’t aware but yours truly is a person of the sea. I was raised on an island and cannot remember not knowing how to swim. Over the years, I also learned how to sail and have owned a sail boat. Needless to say I love watching the Summer Olympics boat races and …

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America’s Cup: American Defenders Last Race?

The America’s Cup is down to match point in the latest battle of the billionaires for the trophy, affectionately known as the Auld Cup. The challenger from New Zealand leads the American team 6 – 1 after 8 races in this best of seven match. The race is being held in the turquoise blue waters …

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America’s Cup 2017: Finals- Day One

Well the Battle Off Bermuda has come to this- Oracle USA v. Emirates/New Zealand. Please don’t tell me you’re surprised, this was completely predictable about 10 seconds after the close of the last series. As we proceed it will be first to 7 victories, Emirates/New Zealand will start at -1 (that’s right, negative numbers) because …

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America’s Cup 2017: Day 2

Not a good day on the water for Land Rover BAR or SoftBank. Groupama finally got in the win column. Emirates/New Zealand swept. Oracle USA split but leads the Louis Vitton Cup for also rans by 2. In detail- Oracle USA sailed 3 races, they won against Land Rover BAR, lost to Artemis, and won …

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America’s Cup 2017: Day 1

History First of all, it’s not called the America’s Cup because it belongs to the United States (though History might seem to validate that assumption it’s simply the accidental by product of the fact that the holder of the Cup gets to make the rules for the next competition) it’s named after a boat, the …

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The 34th America’s Cup

History of the Cup

The Auld Mug (or more formally the “Royal Yacht Squadron £100 Cup”) was originally contested in 1851 between the America and 15 yachts of the Royal Yacht Squadron in a race around the Isle of Wight.

It is the oldest continually contested championship and the Cup was held by the New York Yacht Club from 1851 to 1983 (also a record).

After the defeat of Liberty by Australia 2 it’s bounced around a considerable bit between Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland (interesting because they have no sea coast, see Canadian challengers between 1870 and 1881), and of course the US.

Fast Boats

…for Ellison, the 2013 America’s Cup wasn’t about the race, per se. It was about disruptive innovation. It was about turning yachting into a sport for the masses. As Ellison put it, he was going to reinvent the America’s Cup for “the Facebook generation, not the Flintstones generation.”

The boats are fast.  Really fast. and can hit speeds of 50+ mph regularly.  They are literally faster than the wind and run just as fast upwind as down.

There are two principle reasons for this.  First, and most important is the semi-rigid airfoil they call a wing-sail.  Because this uses aero-dynamic lift to generate power instead of just being pushed along, it’s almost equally good whatever the wind direction and can generate more lift (power) than the air speed.

The second is hydrofoils.  These lift the hull out of the water to reduce drag, the boats are literally flying.  They also use hydro-dynamic effects to control other aspects of boat behavior which allows previously impossible maneuvers like turning on a dime.  If improperly trimmed they can also cause a boat to pitchpole, capsizing end over end instead of sideways like you’re used to.  It was a pitchpole that caused the death of Andrew Simpson.

The Races were also modified to be noticably shorter, sailing 2 a day with a firm 40 minute time limit per race.  The course was shortened too, 5 legs- a Reach from inshore to the first mark, a Downwind leg to the second mark, an Upwind leg to the third mark, another Downwind leg to the fourth mark, and a reach to the Finish Line.

The Regatta

Team Oracle started the Regatta with a 2 Race penalty for cheating during the preliminaries on the 45 foot scale boats, meaning they had to win 11 Races before Emirates New Zealand won 9.  This is quite a penalty, the harshest ever given in America’s Cup.  Just what did they do to deserve this?

They used bags of lead pellets to change the trim and that’s about as cheating as it gets.

There was also a monetary fine (cost of doing business).  Of more import were the crew sanctions.  Team Oracle lost wing trimmer Dirk de Ridder (considered Spithill’s right-hand man) who was deemed the instigator of the plot.  Also boat builder Andrew Walker and Bryce Ruthenberg, rigger, who carried it out.  Matt Mitchell, a grinder, was suspended for four races.

Oracle did not start competition well, dropping 2 the first day only one of which was close and in the subsequent 3 races spliting 1 – 2 with the All Backs.

With perfect 20/20 hindsight most commentators point at the postponement called after Race 5 and the replacement of John Kostecki with Ben Ainslie at Team Oracle Tactician as the critical moment, and say that also was the day the modifications were made to make Oracle a faster boat.  Let’s remember that at the time the Regatta stood only 4 – -1 in favor of Emirates New Zealand and they went on to score 4 more victories in the next 6 races to put the margin at 8 – 1 going into Race 12.  It’s easy to forget that All Blacks were leading the Race 12 that wasn’t by a considerable margin before high winds forced its cancellation, and the abandoned Race 13 where they were a mile ahead.

I, on the other hand, think the pivotal turning point was the 5 day set of delays and postponements before Race 14 at the end of which the match stood at 8 – 3.

This is also when most people lost interest in the contest, thinking it a sure loss.

Another more important day was Sept. 16, when the All Blacks were still leading 7 – 1 and Team Oracle was struggling with finding the proper settings for the boat.  That was a “reserve day”, scheduled to allow catching up on previous postponements.  The All Blacks had the option of forcing a race day but declined use it.  This gave Oracle more time to find the right adjustments to tune the boat.

Future Developments

Larry Ellison’s oft stated goal is to turn America’s Cup yacht Racing into Formula One for boats.  He wants to create a “World Series” of yacht racing similar to what he attempted this defense with a series of regattas at various important and well known racing ports using smaller, cheaper, and more rigidly formula boats to train crews and build interest.

If you saw any of the support racing you know it can be interesting, especially the “free for all” races where you have many boats racing at once instead of just two match racing.  Kind of like Turn Left in the water (Holy chunks of flaming twisted metal Batman!).

And of course there will be TV.

Larry Ellison’s Amazing Victory and Huge Failure

By Jonathan Mahler, Bloomberg News

Sep 25, 2013 6:13 PM ET

New Zealand would probably have won the cup several days ago, were it not for the 40-minute time limit that Ellison imposed on the races. (Imagine, say, the results of the New York City Marathon being decalred invalid because it was an unexpectedly windy day and the race times weren’t fast enough.)

Ellison did this for the purposes of making the cup more TV-friendly. In fact, for Ellison, the 2013 America’s Cup wasn’t about the race, per se. It was about disruptive innovation. It was about turning yachting into a sport for the masses. As Ellison put it, he was going to reinvent the America’s Cup for “the Facebook generation, not the Flintstones generation.”

Toward that end, Ellison added helicopter-mounted cameras and microphones on the boats. He even hired the guy who brought the virtual first-down line to the NFL’s broadcasts and the glowing hockey puck to the NHL’s.

At the end of the day, though, in trying to make the America’s Cup a TV spectacle, Ellison made it anything but. Sure, the boats look cool and go fast, but they are way too expensive to build and maintain for the costs to be offset by advertising. What’s more, the event was supposed to be over days ago but was delayed several times by weather conditions. One day it was too much wind, another day too little for these finicky, high-performance craft. How, exactly, do you create a TV spectacle around an event whose timing you can’t predict? (Even Wimbledon was forced to add a retractable roof!)

NBC Gets More Than It Expected


Published: September 25, 2013

NBC got a great deal: it paid nothing for the Cup races – the America’s Cup Event Authority bought time on NBC and NBCSN and sold advertising to its sponsors – and used the race production that was hosted by the Cup. But NBC also got lucky, televising a remarkable comeback.

NBC and its cable network, NBCSN, showed 13 days of racing starting on Sept. 7. NBC averaged 1.05 million viewers on the first two days; through the next 10, including Tuesday, NBCSN averaged about 165,000 viewers – about twice what it usually attracts from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Eastern.

Put into context, the America’s Cup races attracted more viewers for NBC Sports Group than for Major League Soccer games (111,000) but fewer than it received for its live Tour de France coverage (287,000) or its Formula One races (203,000 to date).

The America’s Cup was once a much stronger draw. The event became a late-night sensation in 1987 from Fremantle, Australia. In the final race, when Stars and Stripes defeated Kookaburra III, nearly 1.9 million television households watched on ESPN.

So I don’t think there’s any need for Mr. Ellison to get unduly pessimistic about his prospects.

There are rumors that the race will move from San Francisco to Lanai, the Hawaiian island Ellison recently purchased.  That’s a Billionaire (#8 worldwide) joke folks.  Lanai is too remote for the crowds Ellison craves, and why would h want to stink it up with crowds and media, not to mention the time zone problem (races would start around 10 pm ET).

Another frequent complaint is that there aren’t enough Americans in the America’s Cup.  You hear this most strongly from the Kiwis who have indicated that they might not mount a challenge next cycle and have complained for years that all their best talent is hired away.  There is a possibility that there may be some kind of “nationality quota” in the near future.

The next challenger of record for the Cup is set to be the Hamilton Island Yacht Club from Queensland, Australia.  As challenger of record they will negotiate with the defending Golden Gate Yacht Club (actually Larry Ellison) about the rules for the next round.  Don’t pretend they have a lot of influence though, the New York Yacht sat on the Auld Mug from 1920 to 1930 and again from 1937 to 1958 because they didn’t like the cut of the challenger’s jib.

After the racing there was a lot of talk about changing the formula.  I don’t think the AC72s are uniquely dangerous or expensive.  A big rap against them is that when you’re foiling and dip your bow you can easily get an end over end crash.  This is unusual for a boat, but falling off your foils is almost always pilot error.  Likewise, the formula is so different and so new this time around that everything is incredibly expensive.

I think that if you keep the formula the same you reduce the learning curve and standardize the parts making them cheaper.  The costliest things at the moment are research and development, and training.  Now that potential rivals have had a change to see and learn from the mistakes of these prototypes I think that you can expect the next roud to be faster, safer, and cheaper so that more teams can participate.


2013 America’s Cup Official Site

Below the fold you will find a sampling of stories from Bloomberg News, Bloomberg News Video, The New York Times, The Guardian, and The San Jose Mercury; as well as complete OFFICIAL Video coverage of all Races, Postponements, and Press Conferences with a short summary of each Race’s action and the reason for delays and postponements.

America’s Cup Race 2

Update: 6 hours later we will apparently race.  10 minute pre-start.

So- what do we know about the America’s Cup that we didn’t know before?

Well, we know that today’s race is supposed to be a 39 mile triangular course if the weather conditions are right and TheMomCat informs me that conditions for Valencia are expected to be-

Mostly sunny. Breezy. Highs in the 70s. Northeast winds 15 to 25 mph.

So we’re probably not going to race at all.

Why?  The chase boats can’t keep up if the winds are 25 mph.  These boats sail at 3 x wind speed upwind!  My Uncle’s ski boat wouldn’t do 75.

But here I am as if they’re going to race because I like to make my marks and also I now know one other thing-

This will be the last race of the 33rd America’s Cup.

Best 2 out of 3 and BMW/Oracle already has one in the bag.  What’s more Alinghi has shown no indication at all that their boat is faster under any wind condition.

In the first race BMW/Oracle stalled out and took a full minute and a half to hit the start.  That was a 660 meter advantage and it was erased in 20 minutes.  After that it was just piling on.

Now I hear you say that the 15 and a half minute finish margin is because Alinghi botched a pointless spinnaker change and dinked around with their penalty turn, but it was a full 10 minutes before any of that.  When BMW/Oracle hit the line Alinghi was nearly TWO MILES behind!

It’s too late to build a new boat.

According to CupInfo.com they’ll only begin thinking about starting at 4:54 am (et) so I’m putting this on auto-promote for 4:30 because it’s already been a very long day for me.

Your streaming video sites (because it’s only available on the tubz) are-

I found my best results were from BMW/Oracle Racing.  If you think you are stuck in Full Screen mode try hitting the Escape Key.

ESPN 360 is covering it also, but without a permanent link.

America’s Cup Sailrace: USA-17 Takes 1st Round !

Off the Spanish coast, today was a very good day to be sailing the BMW Oracle USA 17 trimaran, which overcame a funky start with penalties and an early jump to the lead by the Swiss boat Alinghi, to win the 1st round of the America’s Cup.  

The Oracle USA-17 won by 15 minutes and 28 seconds on the 40 nautical mile racecourse, reaching an incredible 22 knots of speed, about 3 times the air windspeed over the Mediterranean, which was very light.  At the end of the first 20 mile turnaround point, the Oracle USA-17 had not only caught up to and passed the ploddering Swiss Alinghi, but had a whopping 1,200 meter lead of nearly a mile.


Oracle, bankrolled by Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison, zoomed into the starting box with its windward and centre hulls out of the water and Spithill (note: Jimmy Spithill, the Aussie captain of the Oracle USA-17) steered straight at Alinghi. The Swiss wanted to sail in front of Oracle, but didn’t have enough speed and both boats had to tack. Oracle raised a protest flag, and the umpire in a trailing boat concurred.

That meant Alinghi, funded and steered by Swiss biotech billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli, had to perform a 270-degree penalty turn at some point in the 64-kilometre race.

Spithill somehow stalled Oracle over the line early with less than 15 seconds before the starting gun, and Alinghi sprinted off the line. Oracle had to go back and restart, putting it well behind.

Given that these 2 triple carbon hulled sailboats, with sails a big as a jetliner’s wing, might be roughly equal to each other in speed, (because wind conditions vary, the boat that goes “faster” on a relatively calm day may not actually be the faster boat if that other boat goes faster on a day with a good stiff breeze with better manueverability, and the other boat can’t be steadied nor steered as well, or worse, it falls apart )  which one ultimately succeeds is going to come down to how the sailing crew can make the thing respond to the unexpected, and do things like tacking (turning.)

So far, in calm conditions, this looks very good for Oracle USA-17, especially since pre race hype seemed to imply Alinghi, being Swiss, had that European engineering cachet of superior speed.  But will she hold together if they go out in a real wind and not a hamster fart ?

Photos of the race may be seen here:


The next round of the America’s Cup is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb 16, depending on wind and wave conditions.

Maybe America’s Cup

Perhaps we’ll get racing today.

I’m pleased as punch that AmericanRiverCanyon seems to be as into the Cup as I and TheMomCat are.  There are cases that cannot be over done by language, this is from CupInfo.com

Sides have been chosen around the America’s Cup world, and this may be the least friendly competition among nations for yachting’s great prize to ever slide down the ways.

Not the least of these issues is the Battle for the Soul of the America’s Cup that has raged increasingly hot since July, 2007.  The near future of the event, if not its entire future, may ride on the outcome.

Win or Lose, this match could well be the last time we ever see the America’s Cup unleashed to this degree.  This is a match race in the original sense, the boats at mythic proportions, the competitors have real anger, the stakes beyond mere pride.  The America’s Cup sails into history today, and Cup fans everywhere should hope it comes out a winner.

Your sources for streaming video are-

ESPN 360 is covering it also, but without a permanent link.

ARC seems to think Alinghi has an edge in boat speed, that was not my impression and I hope it’s not so as Alinghi has shown no interest in returning to a traditional Challenger/Defender Regatta format.  It’s a best two of three race this time with races 1 and 3 being 20 miles upwind and 20 miles back and race 2 a 39 mile triangular course.

Both yachts are reputed to sail at 3 x wind speed.  Monday’s proposed start was canceled because of lack of wind and Wednesday’s because there was too much.

Today also marks the “start” of the Olympics but I consider Opening and Closing Ceremonies nothing but vapid spectacles.  Your tolerance of volunteer amateur rhythmic gymnastics, costumed Mummers’ parades, televised fireworks, and breathless pseudo punditry and hype may vary.

In any event, while I still reserve the right to change my mind, my current coverage solution is after noon (and I’m talking 12:30 pm) and evening consolidated threads.  Volunteers interested in specific sports are more than welcome and if you feel like you’re in danger of exceeding your three essay a day limit, please drop me a comment and let me fix that for you.

I have to pick up my brother at Bradley at 6 pm so I’m not likely to be around for the 7:30 pm start anyway.

Have a great day, I’ll see you in comments or at 4 for Afternoon Edition.

Too Big To Sail: Cup Race Canceled Again

The America’s Cup sailboat race’s first round has once again been canceled due to the fickleness of winter weather crossing the North Atlantic to the Mediterranean.  On Monday, it was a lack of wind off the coast of Valencia, Spain, today, it was too much wind, over 15 knots, which was causing waves 4 to 6 feet high, or up to nearly 2 meters.  The winds Wednesday were gusting up to 25 knots. ( A knot is 1.15 miles per hour, aka .514 meters per second.  per wikipedia, 1 meter per second = 2 knots is a fast way to make the conversion from European meters per second, when they use it to describe windspeed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K…  )

Since these fancy, triple hulled sailboats used to compete in the Cup can attain top racing speeds of up to 3 times the wind’s, the race is not allowed to proceed with the insurance company’s blessings unless the wind is under 15 knots, to keep the boats at 45 mph or under, and the wave chop needs to be 3 feet or less.  The America’s Cup race goes 40 miles at a time, 20 miles out, turn, and 20 miles back, for 3 races to determine the winner.  The Swiss are the current defenders of the Cup, with their boat the “Alinghi” and an international team formed by Ernesto Bertarelli.  (Alinghi is an invented name and does not translate into something cute from Italian.)

A photo of the United State’s entry, the Oracle trimaran, at dock can be seen here. Note the size of the outrigger to the right side, and the thickness of the center sail mast rising out of the middle:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/spo…

Another photo of the Oracle, under sail and airborn except for one outrigger touching the water (why one does not want big waves to be smacking the thing under speed) can be seen here:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T…

An excellent story on the effect of even tiny variation in wind speed on these 2 huge, swift, but delicate racing machines can be found here:   http://www.timesonline.co.uk/t…  

If the boats can’t withstand the weather-  the mast can snap at the base, and the sails can literally fall off.

Under normal sailing conditions, the load at the base of the mast on Alinghi V is 100 tonnes, equivalent to a fully laden Boeing 757 sitting on the top of the mast that is supported on a metal ball barely bigger than the tow hitch on a family car. Even a modest gust of wind or a small wave can see this load rise dramatically.


For Alinghi’s opponents aboard USA-17, BMW Oracle Racing’s radical trimaran, the issue is more about the complexity of the 230ft wingmast that towers above the boat. Arguably more suited to stronger winds, its Achilles’ heel lies in the number and complexity of components that are required to control the wing. A small failure could quickly lead to a chain reaction and a catastrophic failure.

The race will again be attempted to start on Friday.


http://www.sacbee.com/830/stor… (subscription required, merely linked for attribution)

America’s Cup

So what do I know about The America’s Cup?

And now you know that too.

You clicked the link and read it, right?

So this year’s below the radar challenge is Alinghi v. Oracle/BMW.  Partisan that I am I have to hope that Oracle wins and returns the race to it’s traditional Louis Vuitton Cup & Defender Regatta format that makes for interesting racing because he who holds the Cup makes the rules.

Except when they are challenged in court as contrary to the deed of gift, which this year has shifted the site from Abu Dhabi in the mine infested and aptly named Persian Gulf (and anyone who thinks we won’t lose a war with Iran is just stupid) to Valencia, Spain where at least we won’t have to worry about hostage taking or boats being blown up.

That was an Alinghi idea.

As is removing the Challenger series (a landlocked nation of Templar Bankers could hardly hold a Defender series).

One idea I agree with is removing design restrictions.  Formula 1 is a shadow of it’s former self in the name of parsimonious racing rules- no better than bumper car NASCAR and bettered by CART until the money ran out and they couldn’t get a TV deal.

Oh, did I mention it’s only available by streaming video on the internet?

But the money here is is limited only by your imagination and billions have been spent on both sides to produce their one off technological triumphs.

Alinghi is sporting a twin hull catamaran (a redundancy).  Oracle a huge trimaran (single hull, out-riggers on both sides) with the largest sail ever.

Or more correctly a semi-rigid airfoil.

In races like this the dominant technology tends to assert itself early and just pile up the advantage so it’s hugely boring to watch.  We should know actually on the first upwind lap and then have it reinforced.

I don’t actually know how many laps they have to make and there are only three races overall.  The only random factors are equipment failures, weather, and stupidity.


Streaming video at CupInfo

Streaming video at BMW/Oracle