Monday, September 28, 2009

Now there are two America's Cups

Well, there's one, a real America's Cup.

Possibly, it's about to be sailed off Ras el-Khaimah, in the United Arab Emirates, close to a war zone, close to pirate havens, so close that no private vessel of any owner, commander, captain, master, mate or loblolly-boy could ever get there without having to pass through (i) a war zone, or (ii) pirate waters, whichever is worse, whether they come from the Suez Canal or the Indian Ocean.

So that's one America's Cup, if that's what you want to call it. Some call it AC33.

Then there's another America's Cup.

This America's Cup is redolent in the bright, bouncing, baby child born of a union between luxury goods marketer Louis Vuitton and the rest of the America's Cup universe, otherwise known as Those-Not-Participating-in-America's-Cup-33, all of whom (potentially and in reality) were escorted to the altar by the Hon. Grant Dalton, Father-in-Law-in-Chief, chief executive of America's Cup Team New Zealand.

This second America's Cup is a one class event, currently debating its reality with World Match Racing authorities over the use of the word "world" and perhaps over other items, all of which are arcane, minute, and will be satisfied only by a bureaucrat's passion for details.


Bruno Troublé (of Louis Vuitton), who is not to be outdone as a major sailor and a sponsor with the power to express his feelings and opinions, is pushing forward with his concept, and with his expansion of his successful One-Class-AC-Class-Version-5-Class America's Cup style event, held for the first time in Auckland, New Zealand, which just happens to be Bruno's favorite South Pacific port.

It will only take sheer failure, a meltdown, a fusion of failure factors for his series not to take hold and establish an AC-style, AC-level event, however the competition is designed, and whatever boats are used, deployed, developed -- or even built from scratch -- in order for the great sailors of the planet to compete in this event. And enjoy it.

So, naturally, M. Troublé's event will succeed, so long as there are AC Version 5 boats to sustain it, short term, and other designs to sustain it, medium term.

Longer term?

Well, that's an issue.

If Alinghi and BMWOracle pursue their duel in RAK, and one wins, and one loses, and if any loss or win in the event is taken to the Courts (like the Bush-Gore election), then I think we can say, assuredly, that the America's Cup, as we know it, is dead.

In that case, the Trustees (who have sponsored America's Cup teams), in uniform, will act.

If that happens, America's Cup is all ahoo, if it wasn't already.

Ready to replace it will be the first, most viable alternative -- the Louis Vuitton America's Cup One Class event.

The Trustees could actually engineer that to make it happen.

If they don't, what on earth would they engineer? Apply the Deed of Gift? Properly, yes. But God help us! Didn't that just happen? Yes. What next? God knows.

Nevertheless, Bruno wins. He has a defined event, an international event, and event that transcends "racing boats in salt water" and becomes, literally, the high end of yacht racing, just like Ernesto (Bertarelli (SUI), defender of America's Cup) imagined.

Actually, the Formula One of Sailboat Racing.

Or whatever it may be called.