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

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,
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:

Now, extraordinarily, here's what Sir Keith is saying about the protocol today (thanks to

"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.