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Video: Postcard from America’s Cup

Now that all is said and done, this was the best America’s Cup ever.  I watched the final 19th race from in front of St Frances Yacht Club where I could see the flags on the Committee Boat, the starting line and first buoy rounding right in front of us.


But first, let’s put the whole thing in perspective.


Flash back to race 6 on September 15, it was Emirates Team New Zealand with 7 wins, USA 1 and then things just got worse — Tuesday September 17, race number 7, the Kiwis won again, increasing their lead to 8 wins.


As a result Emirates Team New Zealand t-shirts were selling out and Oracle shirts were discounted (buy one get the second one for 50% off).


Then all of a sudden the tide shifted… so to speak. Something frantic must have seriously happened in the American’s dugout. The engineers and boat tuners had worked around the clock to soup up Larry Ellison’s AC72 catamaran called Oracle.


On the following two races held on Thursday, September 19 the Yankees came out with guns blazing. The Oracle was now sailing not only downwind on foils but also upwind (the leg of the race where the Kiwis had maintained a strangle hold over the Oracle boat).


Fast forward to Tuesday, September 24 at 1pm in the afternoon out on San Francisco Bay on the drag strip between St. Francis Yacht Club and Pier 27-29. The America’s Cup had now stretched past the originally anticipated finish and was into over time with race 19 (the tie breaker) — scores: Emirates Team New Zealand 8 Oracle 8. The score on paper should have been 8 Kiwi’s USA 10 but due to good investigative work on the Kiwi’s side, Team Oracle got docked 2 races for allegedly cheating in the America’s World Cup World Series, held a year earlier on San Francisco Bay in 45 foot catamarans sponsored by Red Bull power drink.


Oracles speed change after race 7 was truly monumental; they were now in the hunt. Watching the two AC72 Catamarans hydro foiling at the two minute warning in the starting box on race 19 could be compared to sword fighting, jousting or fighter planes playing chess in the sky.


After the smoke cleared from the starter’s gun the Kiwi’s got the jump on the start, broke away from Oracle and headed down wind in a mass of spray coming off their dagger boards mounted underneath each of the two hulls. With the Oracle team getting a bad start, burying their two hulls deep in the water on their turn down hill from mark one in front of St Francis Yacht Club, it looked like it was all over. But… it wasn’t. The Oracle jumped up on their foil as well and got in hot pursuit chasing the Team New Zealand down the race course. They both skidded in to the bottom hill mark (number 2), near pier 27-29 looking like baseball players sliding into second base to avoid the tag. Clearing the mark the to Catamarans got into a serious tacking duel going up hill, on the windward leg to mark 3 in front of Crissey Field, near the Palace of Fine Arts, just shy of the southern span of the Golden Gate Bridge.


Oracle got to the windward mark seconds ahead of the Emirates team, made the turn and started screaming down hill at speeds nearing 50 miles per hour. Once the Kiwis rounded mark 3 themselves, they weren’t even getting the tail wind or spray off Oracles rudders, the Kiwi’s were buried, Oracle dropped the hammer on the downhill leg to mark 4 and pressed the hydro acceleration button and they were gone. Race over, crossing the finish line in front of huge crowds, estimated over 75,000 people 44 seconds ahead of the Kiwis.


In the press conference after the race, moneyman Larry Ellison owner of Oracle Computer Software Company (and the island of Lanai) was quoted saying, “This regatta has changed sailing forever.”


Out of the Flintstone era into the space age. Not to be seen at the final press conference was Larry Ellison’s Chief Executive Officer, Russell Coutts, a New Zealander himself having racked up his sixth straight winning streak. (Black Magic NZ, 1995, Team New Zealand 2000, Alinghi [Switz] 2003, Alinghi again in 2007 and then hopping to Larry Ellison’s camp Oracle [USA] 2010 and once again for Oracle [USA] on September 2, 2013.


After all is said and done this America’s Cup was the best ever in its 162 year history. Over half a million people got to watch from shore any or all of the 19 races without paying an entry fee or needing to charter a boat to get out to sea to view the races.


When asked where the next America’s Cup will be held Larry Ellison stated he would like to see it held in San Francisco again since he lived nearby in Woodside but also jokingly said maybe I will have a race around Lanai Island (Ellison bought the Hawaiian island last year).


For Dean Barker and his crew, Jimmy Siphill, skipper of Team Oracle said it’s too bad there can only be one winner, Dean sailed a great racing series, but in the end… Oracle had a faster boat.


So for all you kids in American Samoa who have learned to swim already and are comfortable playing in deep water, consider learning to sail or even row, paddle or surf. You have warm water right outside your door step, a truly great playing field. Want to make lots of money and not get hurt on a football field, consider it if you are still in grade school. All it takes is a time commitment, good coaching and a playing field (Pago Harbor or off Leone or Fagaitua).


Some of the crew on Oracle were paid in the seven figures to sail for Oracle. The money is there all it takes is a government willingness to let water sports develop in American Samoa.