Friday, December 19, 2008

People say no to things they fear

It wasn't the Prince and his Chamberlains who, apparently, have said NO to Sailing Anarchy Yacht Club (SAYC)'s entry to America's Cup 33.

According to SAYC, the NO came from an Underling. Poor sod.

Frankly, you'd expect a NO.

But in marketing (which is what an AC entry is, not sailing), you have to understand that NO is meaningless. 

Well, it's not actually meaningless. In this case, it's a prayer for breathing room. 

As in: "You took us by surprise. We're confused. We don't know what to make of this. It's too hard to for us to discuss this or even decide before Christmas. Everyone is gone. Personally, we don't have the authority to do anything, except call Commodore Meyer (SUI) to ask for advice. So we did. And the answer is NO."

NO actually means, we don't like the idea of your challenge.

NO means, we talked on the phone to people in the Alpine nation, and they told us to say NO.

NO means, you were drunk. Stop this. Put an end to it. NO way.

NO means, um, er, you didn't set the type in Times New Roman and set your margins at 1.25". Sorry, NO.

NO means, hey, guys, great idea. We love you guys. Next time, let's do it right. Nice try. Hey, we want you back.

NO means, you are Americans, essentially, supported by a rabid global band of contrarian thinkers, including New Zealanders. Therefore, it's just quite possible that you could pull off the funding thing, find some designers who know what they are doing -- and who don't like us -- and you could actually find people in your community who know how to drive, steer and sail a Version 5 boat, and we know, for Pete's sake, there's a bunch of those boats out there that could be made very competitive for our three regattas next year, and frankly, if you guys chafed butt, namely ours, then that would be very embarassing for us. So, NO.

So, NO doesn't mean NO. 

It means go away.

In response to this discourteous rejection, some observers say that the Commodore, Officers and Members of SAYC should carefully consider their options.

That includes rethinking the paperwork. Getting serious about grassroots fundraising. Finding the AC moguls of yesteryear and putting a torch to their tinderwood. Refiling the entry in Valencia. Finding a sober tone for all communications to the House of Alinghi (SUI) and its captives. And above all, pressing the issue. Hard. And drawing on every human asset on our small, blue sailing planet to support an honorable, incorrigible and worthy initiative.

Once that's done, expect a YES. 

But also expect another NO -- especially from someone with the real power to say NO -- and who is prepared to say NO very publicly and very officially -- and then explain the reasons why.

SAYC may be surprised to learn how few of these people there are. Maybe two.

Meanwhile, move forward, aggressively, on every front.

That's a very sound course.

At least, that's what the whitebait are saying.






Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The butterfly has flapped its wings

Next, the tsunami?

Well, that depends.

The rag, tag and bobtail members of Sailing Anarchy (America's Cup division), have organized a yacht club, Sailing Anarchy Yacht Club (SAYC).

OK, you say, fine. So what?

Well, we agree. But the astonishing fact is, SAYC have orchestrated an entry for America's Cup 33. Apparently, they have filed papers in Valencia, and are axiously awaiting a response from The Powers That Be.

Is this serious? Well, apparently, it is.

You are saying that an online community is mounting a challenge for America's Cup? Well, yes, they are. But this isn't your average online community. 

Founded by sailor, radio personality and online entrepreneur, Scot Tempestra (USA) of San Diego, Sailing Anarchy is an online home for franchised, enfranchised and disenfranchised sailors, many of whom who have participated, and currently participate, in virtually every competitive class on the water -- and in all classes of watering hole -- and most of whom are united in their passion for the America's Cup As We Know It.

But isn't it ridiculous? Isn't this an absurd undertaking? And if it's not absurd, then isn't it financially impossible?

Well, it's no less impossible than a U.S. presidential contender, Howard Dean, believing that he could fund a presidential campaign from small donations raised from across America (which he did). 

And it's no less ridiculous than a successful U.S. presidential contender, Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, running the same kind of grassroots campaign, ultimately refusing Federal funding, and raising more money, in a shorter time, than any Presidential candidate in history.

But could SAYC raise the same kind of funds, the same way? Good question. 

Knowledgeable souls at AC Anarchy (which is the sub-forum these sailors belong to) admit they need $200 million. They say they have anything from 20,000 to 30,000 members. So put on your grassroots hat. Think creatively. Do the math.

Then add one or two humongously benificent donations from the handful of unruly U.S. sailing magnates who still exist and haven't found an outlet for today's kind of America's Cup. Some of these proud, independent souls would surely value an opportunity to support an American entry in AC33 and would enthusiastically embrace the boasting rights that came with it.

You can name them, just like we can.

Pretty soon, you'd have some real cash.

Pretty soon, you'd have designers taking the challenge seriously.

Pretty soon, you'd have one or two Version 5 boats ready for rehabilitation, or a new class-rule vessel ready to be designed and built.

So it wouldn't be smart to diss the challenge, the math, or the naval architecture.

It's eminently do-able.

The only fly in the ointment is ... well, you guessed it. The Prince and his Chamberlains. 

If they decide that this is the kind of challenge up with which they will not put, well, that puts a dent in the sails of SAYC and its team. But frankly, it does not necessarily end the challenge.

To deny SAYC a valid challenge, the House of Alinghi and their cohorts would have to elevate all those old familiar objections -- no yacht club, no boats, no regatta.

Believe me, they wouldn't want to do that. Not with Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV) standing under the trees in the rain, shivering in the wind and the shadows.

That, assuredly, would put the cat among the pigeons.

So this is a portentiously serious event.

And there is only one factor that transforms this ambitious idea into a serious effort. And that's money.

Even in challenging times, sponsors know there is always money for ambitious endeavors.

And in a country that has no dog in the hunt -- which is the biggest hunt there is for salty warriors -- you can be sure there are salt water hunters and hounds aslaverin' somewhere.

Stay tuned.







Monday, December 15, 2008

For goodness sake, who is next? Schnackenberg?

Everyone has been out there, yapping to the media.

Everyone under the sun, literally -- despite non-disclosure agreements to the contrary -- and to a person, they are ready, willing and available for media interviews.

Even with marginal media, like online sites.

Well, these may be online, certainly. But today, online is where the news is.

Peter Montgomery (NZL), the great Kiwi yachting journalist and commentator, recently lamented the fact that new yachting journalists aren't being minted.

He overlooks the fact that everyone today is a journalist. 

If you don't believe that, just take a cruise through America's Cup Anarchy, a forum of Sailing Anarchy.com.

Insight, commentary, and observation today are for everyone who can put fingertip to keyboard. And you don't need a degree in journalism or communication to do that, as we know.

But we digress.

Grant Simmer (AUS) and Brad Butterworth (NZL) have been out there, you'd expect that. 

So have Pedro Perello (ESP) of Ayre Challenge and Sir Keith Mills (GBR) of TeamOrigin.

Both these latter individuals affirm that they have been in constant communication with Larry Ellison (USA), chief of BMWOracle, or Russell Coutts (NZL), team chief executive, in order to persuade them to abandon principle and enter AC33, the Alinghi Cup, currently being organized.

Sadly, without success.

As friends of the Alpine nation busy themselves with meetings, committees and class rules, Golden Gate Yacht Club (USA) and the entire BMWOracle team are focused on something else.

The America's Cup.

The real one.






Sunday, December 14, 2008

Is Sir Keith a windvane?

Sir Keith Mills (GBR), seen here on Friday,
in a screen capture from zerogradinord.net,
the online sailing resource


Sir Keith Mills (GBR), chief of TeamOrigin, sole British entry in America's Cup 33, is an extraordinary individual.

Knighted in 2006 by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II for services to sport, Sir Keith's leadership includes management of the campaign that successfully delivered the 2012 Olympic Games to London. Our kudos to Sir Keith.

That's a huge accomplishment.

In a similar bullish vein, Sir Keith has steered TeamOrigin's campaign for AC33.

In September last year, Sir Keith was extraordinarily upbeat about the AC event. Here's how he was quoted in TeamOrigin's press release:

“ACM (America’s Cup Management) ran a fantastic event this Spring, not only from a sports and entertainment point of view but also by setting the standards on a number of non-sports aspects placing the America’s Cup firmly in the 21st century, in amongst the most important sporting competitions in the world today. Alinghi and ACM should be complimented on running an event in Valencia that has had a massively positive impact not only on the America’s Cup but the sport of sailing as a whole,” comments Sir Keith Mills.

“We do not believe that the new Protocol will have a negative impact on the future of the America’s Cup. To the contrary we believe it provides a platform for further growth and some real opportunities for those who decide to challenge,” continues Sir Keith.

TEAMORIGIN believes the Protocol is good for challengers, especially new teams because:

  • Of the introduction of a new America’s Cup Class, a new 90 ft yacht, giving every challenger an equal opportunity to start the design process at the same time

  • It prohibits two-boat testing which will reduce costs. New techniques will be developed to refine existing and new yachts, opening up a level playing field for new challengers

  • It allows for regular official racing to be run in Valencia. Teams may race their opponents in practice whilst simultaneously running parallel hospitality and sponsor programmes.

Here's what we said at the time about Sir Keith's enthusiasm for the protocol: http://americascupview.blogspot.com/2007/09/britains-teamorigin-ploughs-in.html.

Now, extraordinarily, here's what Sir Keith is saying about the protocol today (thanks to zerogradinord.it):

"It's been a very constructive process. From the beginning it's been very constructive. We were not happy with the original protocol. But we have made significant changes over the last few months. I think the output that we've virtually finalized today is good for the Cup, good for challengers, and I think we're all looking forward to getting back in the water racing."

Goodness gracious, Sir Keith. 

Perhaps somebody has been passing around the wrong information about your thoughts and ideas. 

Nevertheless, here are your soundbites, then and now, about America's Cup:

In September last year:  We do not believe that the new Protocol will have a negative impact on the future of the America’s Cup. To the contrary we believe it provides a platform for further growth and some real opportunities for those who decide to challenge.

Today, after fronting for video interviewers as a booster of AC33:  We were not happy with the original protocol.

My dear Sir Keith.

We respect and admire your commitment to America's Cup.

But some may say, as they examine your comments then and now, that you have acceded entirely to Ernesto Bertrelli (SUI)'s demands. 

As a result, they may say, you are positioning TeamOrigin entirely within Ernesto's purview.

This is good for Ernesto, obviously.

But is this good for Britain?

Saying one thing, and then saying another, is this how Britain does business?





 

Friday, December 12, 2008

A profoundly unhappy day

Here we are, three days from the 'announcement' of the 'new protocol' for America's Cup 33.

Plus or minus 20 teams -- whatever -- have entered, paid the fee, or are having their entries scrutinized before these are accepted or denied.

Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco (GGYV), host club of Larry Ellison (USA)'s BMWOracle team, has declined the opportunity to enter AC33.

Moving forward, Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), head of Alinghi, together with Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) and Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV), the challenger of record, today orchestrated a pow-wow in Geneva to further 'modify' the protocol and guarantee three sailing events in 2009, with a grander event(s) to follow.

All of us have watched interviews with participating spokespersons who are comfortable and contented and happy moving forward. Good fellows!

But whatever has been decided, whatever the new committee rules may be, and whatever the new class rule -- this is a profoundly unhappy experience for the rest of us, including devotees of a better kind of America's Cup, American partisans, and sane, sensible, rational people who think that things are not quite right in the state of Denmark.

On one level, Ernesto Bertarelli won AC32 through magnificent teamwork, great commitment, and competitive sailing on the days that mattered. Nobody denies their victory. Kudos to Ernesto's charisma, leadership and management -- on the water, and on the hard.

And the event in Valencia was simply fabulous; it rivalled, maybe even exceeded the excitement of Auckland, San Diego and Perth, combined. It was brilliantly staged, beautifully managed, and a great emotional experience, just to be there.

But in the annus horribilis that followed, our emotions and spirits plummeted.

We all know the details of the saga that unfolded and how it ripped the sport apart -- dividing the world's most passionate and devoted sailors on both sides of the issue.

It's been one helluva year.

What was good today, is that hundreds of professional sailors and their families can look forward to 2009 with a reasonable degree of confidence -- the determinations of the New York courts, early next year, notwithstanding.

What truly hurt today, is the idea of 20 happy teams, cheerfully bundling into the meeting room, abandoning any sense of independence and national honor -- in fact, enthusiastically divesting those ideals -- in order to submit to Ernesto's grand plan.

Doing so, they not only accepted his god-like power and signed his extraordinary paperwork, but eminently agreed to do whatever he says to do, and achieve whatever he wants to achieve, frankly, whether they actually believe in it, or not.

Certainly, they participated in today's handy, dandy little joie d'work. And they publicly congratulated themselves for making 'contributions' to the protocol. And they plan to continue the happy work.

But they ignore the everpresent, unpleasant reality that they have submitted themselves, totally and completely, to regime rule defined by Ernesto's sense of grace and favor.

Grace and favor is an ancient European concept where kings and queens, entirely through the power of their majesty -- allow 'favored' individuals the 'grace' to live in special places, enjoy certain privileges, and be protected from adverse influences -- like the pressures of real life. 

All these individuals have to do is say yes, and check their independence at the door.

Ernesto has granted His Grace and Favor to 20 teams, more or less.

They must totally and completely accept what Ernesto says, play by his rules entirely -- and only have leave to pray, earnestly if they can, that his benefice will allow them some modicum of debate over whatever follows and whatever may occur. Even if that includes their arbitrary and capricious eviction from the event, for whatever reason Ernesto desires, regardless.

The downward-spiralling fact is:  they have zero power.

They have zero control.

They live and die according to Ernesto's will. 

Ernesto commands the Cup completely. 

Entrants have no recourse, whatever, over anything that really matters, if it comes to that.

Of course, in the preliminary stages -- like now -- ground will be given by the Prince, but only ground he wants to give.

Concessions may be made by the Prince, but only concessions that mean nothing to him.

Accommodations will be afforded, but only accommodations that cost him nothing.

Otherwise, Ernesto's grace and favor rules.

Maybe it's some sense of European tradition that allows proud, independent people to submit totally to an authority like a Swiss billionaire.

It's understandable that European teams are able to accept a state of affairs of this kind.

After all, most Europeans grew up in nations where kings ruled, where kings and queens still are heads of state, and inevitably, where the upper strata, defined by blood, money or commerce, not just hold power, but hold themselves above the rest of us.

It's hard to understand how good, egalitarian Kiwis can submit to this (although we know that Kiwis just love to sail).

It's not hard to understand how this drives Americans to the point of insanity.

In 1776, an emerging nation repudiated this kind of majestic over-reaching and set new ground rules for how decent, proud, independent Americans should live their lives.

Honor, independence, and truth drive how Americans think, even today.

There are oceans and centuries of difference between how Americans like Golden Gate Yacht Club and BMWOracle think
 -- and how the House of Alinghi thinks.

Ernesto is deaf, dumb and blind to this. 

And probably doesn't care.

As fellow Europeans follow meekly and obsequiously, hat in hand.

As Kiwis figure out how to get back on the water, and leave any unpleasantness behind.

And as Americans withdraw, prepare to do whatever the New York courts decide, and refuse to bow or bend the knee to the Prince Across the Water.





Monday, December 8, 2008

That's it, folks!

Commodore Marcus Young (USA) of the Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco (GGYC) today threw an extraordinarily huge spanner into the works of America's Cup 33.

It's pretty clear why, on two fronts, both affronts.

One, Commodore Young and his committee are absolutely sick to death of Alinghi (SUI)'s posturing, earnest proclaiming, and pretentious pontificating about GGYC and BMWOracle (USA)'s challenge when, in fact, as the entire sailing world knows, Alinghi, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) and Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV) are (i) a pathological disaster area, (ii) self-dealing, slimy actors, and (iii) a paranoid passel of somewhat public, but mostly anonymous and vacuous ne'r-do-wells severely under the influence, majesty, and generosity of Ernesto, the Prince of Alinghi, a sad figure. 

In other words, nothing about this consortium or its intentions are true, above board, or sincere. It's fake. 

Two, GGYV obviously has had a g***ful of the secrecy, the protectiveness, and the paranoia that have accompanied Alinghi's secretive, pompous 'preparations' for America's Cup 33, which everyone knows are fatuous and deserve to be denigrated for exactly what they are, which are pathetic, childish and cheezy steps to diffuse, dissemble, and delay before Ernesto is required to do anything financially, or build any kind of boat, or secure a base (Valencia), or recruit sponsors of any kind (all of whom are rapidly disappearing from the stage). In his present state, there is nothing about any of this that he can possibly afford or achieve.

In other words, nothing about what Alinghi is doing or saying has any reality. It's fiction.

Previously, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) even tried to set legal parameters for the dismissal of the Deed of Gift race. You've seen the evidence (see posts below). Everything they did to achieve this tells all of us they aren't serious about America's Cup. Nobody in the alpine nation can afford anything about the America's Cup, especially now. They are losing everything, including the moral high ground, and they are desperate to control it.

What's the outcome?

If Alinghi self-destructs, which is what bad actors always do, and what Alinghi also will assuredly do, look for GGYC and Larry Ellison, Chief of BMWOracle, to sue in the appropriate court in New York (Cory Friedman Esq.'s esteemed backyard) for the current holder of the America's Cup to be declared invalid for an assortment of reasons, including their failure to pursue the plain-spoken, clear and unequivocal requirements of the Deed of Gift regarding present and future challenges.

And look for an America's Cup to be resolved by an assortment of agreements and understandings, which we believe would be fair, reasonable, honorable, consistent with tradition, realistic, and idealistic (for the benefit of the late George Schuyler (USA), author of the Deed of Gift). It would even involve bringing the great sportsmen of Alinghi back into the contest as sober, honest, realistic, and pragmatic competitors.

Winning the cup is one thing. Managing its future is another. Alinghi beware.

Our legal friends had better start brushing up on the DOG.

This will be a long haul.






Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"My dear Russell ... "


Muy senor mio.

Please believe me, Sir, you are the greatest sailor on the planet, by a league, you are a genius. You are la Copa America.

(Coutts rises abruptly and looks for something heavy and clublike)

All we need to create the greatest sailing event on the planet, carino mio, is you.

(Coutts looks helplessly around the room)

Just think, you and the Prince himself, sailing together. Perhaps we join you. Alinghi himself, he told me he wants you there. Without you, he said we are just barges in a canal.

(Coutts looks for his cell, but realizes they haven't been invented yet)

Perhaps you are a barge, Russo. I am a canal. But I digress.

(Coutts tears down a tapestry from the wall)

Your honor and character, Russell, that is what we must consider. The world is looking to see that you are a gentleman. The dear Prince said you were an iluminador, and told me to tell you so. He said you do not belong in the world of darkness. You belong here with us, with Alinghi and the alpine people! Sail with us, mi tesoro! Compete! Challenge us!

(He tears the fabric into a long thin strip)

I will sail with you. I will find a vessel, and command its crew, and we will run with you, my spinnaker billowing. Think of it!

(Slowly, he wraps the strip around each hand, left and right)

As the sun sets, I see vessels approaching the line. The angels are singing! The sun's red gold rays illuminate the sky! Heroes are throwing themselves into oblivion!

(She closes her eyes in rapture. Coutts steps forward)

As I dream, I see you there, mi cielo, standing proudly. I see the Prince. He is proud. I see you both. I love you both. I cannot tell ...

(He throws two loops around her neck)

Ahh! So you embrace me, Russo . . . ?



Key words: Menial, slavish, subserviant, attentive, compliant, deferential, groveling, obedient, servile, sick, submissive, abject, sycophantic, flattering, cringing, submissive.

References: The cringing servant, a character by Niccolo Machiavelli.

Comment: Everything you ever thought about the Prince and the House of Alinghi is true.

Notes: Beware fetid Ayre.










Tuesday, November 25, 2008

We are thankful


We know you are, too.

For all those who are away from home this week, Happy Thanksgiving!

We know you are doing what you need to do to honor your nation, and sustain your families.

You serve all of us. And we are thankful.

For everyone else on the planet, who may be wondering what this grand Thanksgiving event is about. Well, it's about everything.

It's about the foundation of a great nation.

It's about a belief in liberty and freedom.

It's about truth, in all its forms.

It's about the beliefs that bind Americans not just in truth, but in fairness, honor, honesty, pride, humility, trust, integrity, reason, respect, and faith.

Yes, it's emotional.

Yes, it's 'over the top'.

But, yes, absolutely, it's what America is about.

People like Larry Ellison (USA), chief of BMW Oracle, understand this.

People like Ernestro Bertarelli (SUI), chief of Alinghi, do not understand this.

That's why, ultimately, great honesty will prevail.

Monday, November 3, 2008

This is what it's all about



Remember this?

Just in case you were thinking this world has shifted, moved, or fallen from sight, this fabulous video (one of many online) reminds us what America's Cup (AC) is all about.

AC32 was the best America's Cup ever. This clip is a great piece of that great event.

Whatever your perspective, AC32 was undoubtedly the best, most balanced, most equitable event in AC history. Every nation or team that competed in the event won.

Every sailor who competed, and felt the thrill of the event, won.

AC32 proved that America's Cup is an event that attracts all of us. And not just those who love beautiful boats racing on open water courses, but all of us who love sports.

We admire Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI) for his leadership in making this happen. Except for the event in New Zealand, there has never been a better America's Cup.

That's why the next AC contest must happen soon, now if possible, or even before that.

Two people can make it happen again, for all of us, and for fans around the world.

Ernesto Bertarelli and Larry Ellison (USA).

Let's encourage both of them.

All of us are hanging on what they say, and what they decide.


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Larry has a boat. Where is Ernesto's?

On September 8, 2008, Pierre-Yves Firmenich (SUI), Commodore, and Alan Touriner (SUI), Secretary General of Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), despatched a letter to Commodore Marc Young (USA) of Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC).

In this letter, SNG concluded that GGYC had put themselves in a position where their challenge for an America's Cup Deed of Gift (DOG) race was inalterably "void and invalid," and that SNG had no other alternative than to conclude that GGYC had "waived its challenge."

Therefore the DOG event was dead.

SNG's argument identified GGYC's failure to provide a "custom house-registry of the vessel" --  which apparently was BMWOracle's amazing raptor trimaran.

Read the letter (here).

Does SNG's letter sound like a yacht club that is aggressively building, or has built, or has designed, is designing, will build, soon will build, or ultimately will build a competitive vessel to meet GGYC's nominated team (in an extraordinary raptor 90-by-90 trimaran) in a Deed of Gift race?

We don't think so. We don't think SNG is building anything other than  . . .  lunch.

On the one hand, we have eminently worthy members of the Alpine Yacht Club (SNG) seeking to eliminate a competitor on the basis of flimsy paper evidence.

On the other, we have a serious competitor (GGYC) who has built an extravagantly brilliant vessel and is ready to sail and compete.

Look at it this way.

If you already had a fabulous, competitive vessel under construction, somewhere on the cold water lakes of the Alpine nation, and you felt you had a chance to win, would you be seeking to legally neuter your competitor and keep everything quiet? Destroy them legally? Remove them from the stage, by any means possible?

No, we don't think so. You would be challenging, threatening, and baiting your competitor. One sailor to another.

After all, if you had a competitive vessel, you would be ready to clean their clock.

But if you had no boat, no plans to build a boat, and you were out of funds, and you were afraid of losing any kind of multihull race, and you wanted to delay any kind of reality, any kind of truth, and therefore any kind of reasonable discussion among reasonable people, then you would probably ask M. Firmenich and M. Tournier to write a letter to GGYC.

Here it is again, the (letter).

We think the Little Prince of Alinghi, Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), and his yacht club (SNG) are out of bullets, out of desire, out of ambition, and frankly, have left the DOG series behind.

They want to ignore it, and make it a myth.

They think M. Firmenich and his cohorts, actually, can clear the decks.

Therefore, there's no need whatsoever for them to worry about the DOG.

Given that, Brad Butterworth (NZL), Alinghi skipper, has been charged with making a "new" AC33 happen -- with new teams, new rules, new class rules, new agreements.

What other proof do you need that the DOG is dead?

Not much.

However, if for some reason we are wrong about SNG's multihull, or about the slate-cleaning "new" AC33, one question remains -- has anyone on the planet seen Alinghi's Deed of Gift boat?

We don't think so.

We think the DOG is dead.

We would love to be proved wrong.


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ernesto's ship in the night

So where is it?

Who is building it?

What are they building?

Where are they building it?

Has anyone seen it?

Does anyone know anyone who's seen it?

Does it really exist?

If so, please describe it.

Please tell us what you've seen.

Tell us what you know.

Tell us what somebody has told you.

Incontrovertibly, the big, huge, ugly fact here is that nobody knows exactly what is happening with this mythical vessel, or even if it exists.

But assuredly, Ernesto knows.

And if you were the Mother of All Ernestos, we are confident that you wouldn't be able to keep your multihull a secret.

You would be rubbing the fear, fact and threat of it in your competitor's nose.

But are we seeing this from Ernesto?

I don't think so.

You don't think so, either.

If you do, let's hear from you.






Monday, October 27, 2008

By their marks you will know them

Letter writing. An ancient pastime, and today, despite the unbiquitous cellphone, an everpresent necessity. 

In the 18th century, we know that Thomas Jefferson wrote like a man possessed to everyone he knew. Today we text and email everyone we know, even people we don't know. Or we blog. And as every lawyer on the planet still advises, we put it in writing. Often, our lawyers write those put-it-in-writing letters.

Well, Larry (Ellison, USA) and Ernesto (Bertarelli, SUI) are engaging in a duel, long distance. Weapon of choice, the pen. The sentiments expressed, somewhat bizarre.

At least, Larry's letter (October 17, 2008) was dignified and reasonable, re-stating his simple premise (let's go back to the provisions of America's Cup 32, or similar), and yes, he agreed, one new boat is plenty for all of us in this challenging economic environment.

But, Larry added, significantly, I really don't like the idea that you, Ernesto, would gain an unfair advantage by sailing in the Challenger Series with the rest of us. 

So Larry offered two ways to mitigate that unfairness. Both were reasonable; one more reasonable than the other.

Ernesto's turn comes next. He writes his letter (undated).

Like a blogger, Ernesto goes full bore into rant mode. Aided and abetted, we are sure, by faithful attorney retainers and loyal sailing friends lollygagging in the halls of Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), he rages.

In a letter designed to be reviewed by lawyers in a future discovery, and admitted into evidence in some court, somewhere, some time in the future, the Little Prince ignores the truth of Larry's courtly missive. Ernesto hauls out of his Dead Man's Chest a litany of grievances, including the singularly absurd "having".

We would like to remind Ernesto that "having" is dead. "Having" was wrong from the beginning. Millions have been spent on "having". Having said that, however, we remind Ernesto that, on the day it counted, Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV) did not have an annual regatta, never had an annual regatta, and had no plans for having, or ever having an annual regatta. Apunto.

Then, Ernesto rails about BMW Oracle (USA)'s failure to provide a 'valid certificate' and 'custom house registry' for, presumably, the team's magnificent raptor trimaran designed for the supposed Deed of Gift (DOG) race. Are we serious?

Next, Ernesto asserts a Big Lie, a Whopper, a huge Bruta Figura, as big as any Big Lie in America's Cup history, ever. 

"You require two boats," Ernesto fantastically and falsely asserts. "Requiring two full crews and the support staff for two boat testing." He pursues this absurd canard for three paragraphs.

As everyone knows, Larry said nothing of the kind in his letter. He said quite the opposite. He agreed that one boat makes sense.

Not to be left undone, Ernesto then disses and dispenses with the famous Version 5 boat, asserting that a new boat has been mandated by that somewhat curious assortment of former-previous-earlier-sometime America's Cup 33 challengers.

This is a wedge inserted into the debate by Ernesto to achieve three objectives: 

(1)  Diminish next year's Louis Vuitton Pacific Series (being sailed in venerable Version 5 boats)

(2)  Prevent an orderly, economical and efficient transformation of AC32 into AC33 in Version 5 boats -- which would jump start the series and employ hundreds of people -- for only one reason: that's what Larry recommends, not Ernesto

(3)  Kill any possibility of a DOG contest -- Ernesto hasn't built, isn't building, isn't planning to build, and never will build a 90-foot-by-90-foot Swiss-made raptor trimaran. And, in fact, he probably can't afford to build anything bigger than a Version 5 boat and probably would prefer to build less, like no boat at all. 

Actually, the big, bruising, elephantine fact in the room is obvious. Ernesto has no sponsors and no money. To remain a viable player, he must kill the humongously expensive DOG challenge (and those extravagant 90-foot trimarans). He must also kill that America's Cup event formerly known as AC33 -- particularly if it's reconfigured in Version 5 boats -- because accepting V5 boats means accepting a return to AC32. And that just doesn't work for Ernesto. For money reasons, he'd probably also prefer to sail something like his old, cold water trimaran on Lake Geneva. And Larry would have to find, build or repurpose one of those. Ha!

The rest of Ernesto's letter is the Dreamland of the Little Prince. 

We won't be changing anything about the AC33 Protocol, he says to Larry. So drop everything, particularly everything in the New York courts, and then come into AC33, bow to me, grant me everything, and become a submissive competitor, just like everyone else. Then, if you are nice, and everyone else is nice, perhaps we can discuss the class rules.

For heaven's sake, Ernesto.

Like a little boy starved of peers and playmates, the Little Prince invents games of his own imagining and devises rules that favor only himself, and queers the pitch, and dissembles and discombobulates, in order to emerge, by dinner time, without competition or a serious challenge, a hero.

This is what the entire America's Cup world is dealing with. 

Ernesto is a basket case.

It's time to pull the plug on his paranoid delusions.

If you were wondering about that clinical reference, by the way, a paranoid delusion is 'a fixed false belief that is resistant to reason or confrontation with actual fact'.

Some pundits say, it's time to wrap up, Ernesto.

We say, it's time to wrap up Ernesto.







Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A masterstroke by Ernesto?

Just when Team New Zealand (NZL) and BMW Oracle (USA) have committed four America's Cup Version 5 boats to the LVMH Pacific Cup challenge organized by Bruno Troublé (FRA) to be held on the Hauraki Gulf in Auckland, New Zealand, in February 2009, the Prince of Alinghi slams the Daughter of All Challenges onto the bone dry, dusty hard of the Valencia lagoon.

"Sail this!" says Ernesto Bertarelli of Alinghi (SUI), as he chokes, chortles and collapses on the ground, dissolving in maniacal laughter, in awe of the strategic genius and decision-making cojones of Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV).

"Or, if you prefer," Ernesto adds, "go sail down under!"

We don't know what the Italo-Swiss is for maniacal laughter, but it goes something like this: "Hahahahahahaha!!!"

The inestimable CNEV, that very pastiche of a Spanish yacht club, is having for its annual regatta a contest to be competed in America's Cup Version 5 boats on an ocean water course off that arm of the sea, the Valencia lagoon. It's open for any AC team still standing, still available, and still not committed (or having shipped their boats) to compete in Auckland.

If you are already en route to the Thunder Down Under, the Affair in Valencia is Out of the Question -- logistically, if not honorably.

You have to hand it to the Little Prince. He has a sense of humor.

Yet the sad, sick, pathetic little aspects of this noisemaker event are also evident, as always in anything that has to do with Ernesto, CNEV, and the Alpine Mammoth in the Room, Société Nautique de Genève (SNG).

As critics are saying, it lacks integrity -- not worthy of the hefty Top Class ranking generously and inexplicably assigned by the Royal Spanish Yachting Federation (RFEV).

Fusion and confusion?

The head of CNEV, Manuel Chirivella, a squirrelly figure, apparently is also head of the technical commitee of -- gasp! -- RFEV, who are, curiously, co-organizers of the regatta.

We wonder if this is the kind of sporting event up with which the King of Spain will not put.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Ernesto and Larry blinked

It's exceptional that rumors about a genuine settlement are circulating.

Put it down to this.

Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI) is finished -- no more options, no more funds, no more sponsors, no more rules, no more lawyers, no more ways to compete in the Courts of New York. But with a loyal Yacht Club and good friends, including a loyal Alinghi team, led by Brad Butterworth of Te Awamutu (NZL), and sailing pals, and loyal friends in the alpine nation.

Larry Ellison (USA) is finished -- a raptor trimaran, 90-feet x 90-feet, and huge legal bills. But with a loyal sponsor partner in BMW, a loyal Yacht Club, a ready team, including a passionate and competitive skipper, Russell Coutts (NZL) and sailing pals, and a brillaint, passionate, loyal, creative, and persistent consigliere, Tom Ehman (USA), who has to be The Bulwark of the America's Cup.

We have our fingers crossed.

Ready to salute both giants. 

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Having

This is getting to be very tiresome. 

We have explained this before. 

Even Cory Friedman, Esq. struggles with this, as do the lawyers at Latham & Watkins. But 'having' has wormed its corrupt way into the proceedings, and there it sticks. Everyone is trying to eradicate it.

We are only going to do this one more time.

If you want to know where we're coming from, click here.

Having was, and still is a red herring. In fact, it's now a big, fat stinking red herring, stuck in the bilges of the complaints and briefs of the Courts of New York, unable to be removed or eradicated, filling the world with reeking odors.

Having queered the pitch.

Having was just a word for George Schuyler, author of the Deed of Gift of the America's Cup.

Whatever he wrote (and he authored his quaint phrase for a reason), what he meant was: "having an open water course on the sea for its annual regatta."

His ancient, stately phrasing was designed to place a special emphasis on "an open water course on the sea", in order to deter a Canadian would-be challenger who sailed in cold water waters. 

Apparently, the Canuck was a challenger too coarse or too commonplace for the salt water sailors of America's Cup.

As we said earlier, the meat of the matter is "its annual regatta".

'Having' is about the present. No question. Do you have an annual regatta? Meaning now.

'Its annual regatta' is about your annual regatta -- and 'its' assumes you have one. Do you have one?

Just read Schuyler's sentence, grab Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV) by the throat, and ask the simple question:

Do you have an annual regatta? 

If you are CNEV, on the day the question was asked, your answer is no.

That's it.

That's all he wrote.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Read Golden Gate Yacht Club's appeal

Sailing Scuttlebutt's esteemed authority Cory Friedman, Esq. will undoubtedly adjudicate the appeal by Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), but you should take an hour or two to read the appeal by Latham & Watkins of New York, attorneys for GGYC, or read the summary of the appeal published on the GGYC website.

Mary Mahoney, an attorney at Latham, folks say, is a force behind the appeal.

It's extraordinarily well written, as we imagine legal documents should be (although we defer to Mr. Friedman's assessment of the legal aspects). To the casual and intelligent observer, however, the case made by GGYC is enlightening.

It's not built on legal abstractions.

It's the Deed of Gift, stupid.

George Schuyler, author of the Deed of Gift, says GGYC, wrote an extraordinarily simple and clear document, and was twice asked to clarify certain conditions by the New York Yacht Club, into whose hands he placed his Trust. He complied with their requests, strengthening provisions that have to do with prospective challengers.

Apparently, he strengthened an already strong deed.

GGYC's appeal stresses the simplicty and clarity of the Deed, urging the New York State Court of Appeals to stay within the confines -- the four corners -- of the Deed and to respect Schuyler's open, honest and clear intent.

And the references in GGYC's appeal, interestingly, cite trust law, which is a rich turf for lawyers in New York, and which in this case, relate to the Deed of Gift as a trust, which of course it is.

Nothing about this historic document is absurd or inexplicable, says GGYC, nor can it possibly be construed to mean that a door is left wide open for slackers, never-do-wells, or faux yacht clubs. 

Schuyler thought his document through with sincerity, offered plain detail, and within his simple construction, lawyers say, truth can be found.

Not that this will mean anything to Alinghi (SUI), sailing team of Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), defending yacht club of the America's Cup.

Nevertheless, Alinghi and SNG are probably concerned about the prospective judgment of the New York Court of Appeals.

Perhaps that's why Alinghi's chief Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI) met with Larry Ellison (USA) of BMW Oracle, sailing team of Golden Gate Yacht Club of San Francisco, this weekend.

Perhaps they have already reviewed GGYC's appeal.

Perhaps their lawyers are urging discussion.

Meanwhile, those same Alinghi lawyers are trying to 'invisiblize' the Deed of Gift (DOG) race in 90-foot multihulls, principally because they don't have a multihull, they aren't building one, and won't ever have a 90-foot multihull to enter, ever, wherever any DOG race will be held.

Not that they will ever admit that.

However, if you happened to be in their situation, you would probably bust a gut to prove that the DOG contest is a myth and that no response shipbuildingwise is necessary -- which is exactly what Alinghi lawyers are trying to prove.

Meanwhile, the GGYC's appeal should send a chill down the spine of even the most heartiest SNG members.

If I were Alinghi, I would scamper back to Valencia, and reset the clock to July 4, 2007.

Then I would behave myself, do the right thing, and keep my fingers crossed.


Sunday, September 28, 2008

'Cordial' and 'Positive' sound rather like exit strategies

A meeting was held. It was decided to hold another meeting.

Larry Ellison (USA) chief of BMW Oracle, sailing team of San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC), and Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI), Prince of the Alinghi team of Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), met over the weekend in California.

BMW Oracle reported the talks as 'cordial', and offered to withdraw from the Courts of New York if America's Cup 33 was conducted as a multi-nation event along the lines of AC32.

Alinghi reported the talks as 'postive', and assured the world both teams share a passion for sailing, on the water, and hope to resume that soon.

Meanwhile, nothing happened.

Or a lot happened.

This may be the mating dance for an honorable, managed retreat for both parties. 

For Alinghi, an escape from certain bankruptcy, given its total lack of sponsors for any kind of sailing event, anywhere, even P-Class dinghies on Lake Geneva for the grandchildren of members of SNG. And a tremendous relief from its bruta figura -- and humongous loss of face -- in failing to deliver a 90-foot multihull  for a Deed of Gift race that its lawyers are now scrambling to prove cannot possibly exist.

And for BMW Oracle, an opportunity to depart the New York legal system, hopefully forever, effectively terminating a distracting, clattering fandango that has gone on far too long, too noisily, and undoubtedly cost far more than anyone ever intented, including the Plaintiff.

After all, the DOG race was a bold bluff by GGYC that SUI called. Both clubs have been living with the consequences ever since. Both, assuredly, are regretting decisions that were made when everyone was younger.

Now, the real question is -- actually there are four of them:

(1)  When will AC33 happen, and where?

(2)  Will teams sail existing AC32 boats, or build new designs?

(3)  Will the attention and affections of Bruno Troublé of Louis Vuitton, AC Sponsor Emeritus, ever be recaptured, now that he has vested his passion, commitment and dollars in the new Louis Vuitton Pacific Cup, a cheerful reunion of AC32 participants to be staged in Auckland, New Zealand, in February 2009?

(4)  If Louis Vuitton cannot return -- or elects not to return -- who on earth will step up?

What other agenda can there be?

A new protocol? 

No, please, God forbid. Nobody is that insane.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Expect vituperation from Société Nautique de Genève (and from us, a prayer for the future)

An aristocrat of the mountain nation's Société Nautique de Genève (SNG), Commodore Pierre-Yves Firmenich (SUI), and his executive, Secretary-General Alec Tournier (SUI), have engaged San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club (GGYC) in a letter-writing contest.

"You failed to provide timely certification of your horrendously huge trimaran, in accordance with the provisions of the blah, blah, blah," they wrote. "Now we have no alternative but to blah, blah, blah; and then blah, blah,blah" they concluded.

Shots across the bow.

GGYC's courteous and restrained Commodore Marcus Young replied in similar terms, without ad hominem tactics or threats. And he promised a civil disengagement from whatever obliged GGYC to whatever, at some point in the proceedings, somewhere in there, somewhere along the line, somehow.

Which is fine.

Superficially, it looks like a dance among commodores.

From the alpine people, however, don't misunderstand the intention.

It's a dance to delay, confuse and diffuse the fact they don't have a trimaran of 90-feet, they aren't building a trimaran of 90-feet, and they have no intentions of building a trimaran of 90-feet. Period.

For our friends at GGYC, it's a step to disengage from their obligations as Challenger of Record, in whatever contest they were challening, wherever it was staged, or why, in order to compete and achieve something, somehow.

Can you keep track of this?

Regardless, we can be sure that the next brickbat in this engagement will be a vituperative onslaught from the noisemaker at SNG, His Earnestness, Vice Commodore Fred Meyer (SUI).

The Vice Commodore will harass GGYC's sailing team, BMW Oracle, for failing to win on the water, preferring instead to sail in the Courts of New York.

He will fire a phosphorus flare at Russell Coutts (NZL), skipper of BMW Oracle, just so he can pay a tidy Swiss insult to the Kiwi sailor.

Then, as per usual, he will disappear until the next onslaught.

The fact is, there's no Alinghi trimaran. And there never will be.

The House of Cards factor is that the Cold Water Yacht Club (SNG) is ever-so-slowly collapsing, thanks to a paucity of defensive strategies.

Pretty soon, we project, we will see the rubbing of SNG's hull on the hard shallow stones of the foreshore of reality.

SNG are pooped. AC is pooped, likewise. And GGYC is trying to do everything they can to salvage something out of this, as they watch Louis Vuitton's Bruno Troublé (FRA) defect to Auckland, New Zealand, to stage some wonderful AC32-style pyrotechnics in the one city down under that still loves America's Cup.

Given the heated penmanship, GGYC remains the intelligent participant, we aver. And SNG is fighting a defensive, losing battle.

Our greatest fear, sadly, is that public opinion will diss America's Cup as a wretched excess, a collossal failure, and a calamity of pride, and then depart the stage, muttering silently.

Our prayer is a simple one.

Ernesto stop. Larry stop. All nations, stop. Courts stop. Vice Commodore Myer stop.

Let's have a fabulous AC33 in re-engineered old boats in Valencia. Let's have a great time in the sun in Spain, as soon as humanly possible. Next year, if possible.

Then, together, let us build the biggest, scariest AC34 ever. The biggest, rangiest boats ever. No holds barred!

(Even if we have to take Bruno Troublé to lunch to explain that he can, personally, for his fabulous company LVMH, usher into existence -- not the re-entry of an artifact from sailing history -- but a new standard that changes the competitive sailing world as we know it, and moves naval architecture and innovative yacht design to an absolutely higher plane.)

Which is good.

But first, please, AC33.

Please.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Auckland, City of Sails

Well, except for a branded spinnaker, some of those sails will soon belong to Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL).

In Auckland this summer (winter for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere), inshore, on the Hauraki Gulf, those fabulous ETNZ workhorses -- NZL92 and NZL84 -- will carry crews from five or more America's Cup teams, in pursuit of a wonderful prize sponsored by Louis Vuitton.

This isn't the America's Cup. This isn't an ersatz America's Cup.

This is a genuine, authentic, and celebratory way for the world's finest America's Cup sponsor, Louis Vuitton, and their sailor leader, Bruno Troublé (FRA), to raise the flag for sailing passion, sportsmanship, and enthusiasm in an AC world that has been dull as ditchwater, and enormously confusing, for months.

Best of all, it will allow AC brands like Emirates, BMW Oracle, and many others (and we hope Alinghi (SUI)) to return to the water, employ crews, come together, enjoy the spirit and camaraderie of AC racing -- AC32 style -- to reward their sponsors, earn some money, perhaps win, and do so in the Valencia of the South -- Auckland, New Zealand.

Instead of oranges as the juice for this event, think kiwifruit. And perhaps a little beer.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, an AC fan, has authorized the investment of $NZ750,000 to support the series. Similarly, the Hon. John Banks, Mayor of Auckland and former New Zealand Minister of Sport, has offered the support of his city, its agencies, and the oceans of volunteers required for the event.

In Auckland, these volunteers won't be hard to find. In fact, it will be difficult to keep every Aucklander onshore. Most will insist on being on the water.

Kudos and congratulations must be given to Bruno Troublé and Grant Dalton (NZL), who apparently engineered this. And the French luxury brand, LVMH, must be given Great Kudos for their support of Bruno Troublé in his untiring commitment to first class sailing, great sportsmanship, great teammanship, and great competition. New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark completes the hierarchy. As do the people of Auckland, who will make this fabulous event a fabulous experience. Believe me.

Perhaps the extraordinary spirit of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Cup will also return passion -- and competition -- and fairness -- and reality -- to AC33, 34 , 35, 36 . . .

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ernesto's Protocol of the Imagination

You have to hand it to him.

The Prince of Alinghi, Ernesto Bertarelli (SUI),  is probably the best public relations diffuser on the planet.

Not only does he adeptly deflect criticism of his infamous, scorched-earth Protocol for the 33rd America's Cup with his answers in the Porto Cervo interview conducted by the Italian editors of the sailing website, Zero Gradi Nord, as reported by Valencia Sailing on Sept. 8, 2008. 

But Ernesto, amazingly, also finds a way to dispense with the original 33rd Protocol itself and put in its place a Protocol of the Imagination, where every megalomaniacal detail is suppressed and a litany of pathetically tiny adjustments, forged by stunned AC33 hopefuls, takes center stage as the defining document for a sporting event that, the Prince despairs, was wrenched from his perfectly clean, sanctified hands by the egregious and despicable desires of Larry Ellison (USA), the litigiously obsessed head of BMW Oracle.

That Ernesto is capable of such extraordinary sleight of hand -- and can achieve it with such reckless abandon in the face of truth -- would be extraordinary, if it wasn't so chilling.

"What is it with this man?" we recently asked the chief executive of a major team sponsor in America's Cup 32.

"Something in his childhood," he replied.