Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Morning After

On the first day after the cut to the final four, two BMW Oracle boats sat in the shed while two Luna Rossa boats went sailing. Ask me later, much later, what that means.

To the best of my knowledge, neither of the boats in the other pairing of the semifinal eliminations, Emirates Team New Zealand nor Desafío Español, left the dock.

Each pairing races until somebody wins five. One dies. One lives and goes on to meet the other survivor in the finals.

Jesper Bank resigned as skipper of the German team (I know what that means) which announced a new boat a'building for United Internet Team Germany, but they did not seem clear about their path. Here's syndicate head Michael Scheeren: "The engagement of our sponsor is very much depending on the future venue, our sportive concept and the media interest which was not supported by the weather conditions in this Louis Vuitton Cup."

Which means, I think, that they have a sponsor (and therefore a team) if United Internet likes the outcome of the America's Cup match and the new defender's vision of the next round of play. But even if they lose United Internet as a sponsor, the team hopes to remain a part of the America's Cup industry, and they have a next boat under construction because the money is there to begin, and that's momentum of a sort, and you gotta take your best shot and . . .

Everyone who was at the press conference came away a bit confused, including at least one native German speaker, so don't expect me to parse this one out. Regular readers will know my penchant for the long way home. I think this quickie snapshot reflects the relevant data.

At Areva, the French team made some announcements too, but they were clear, even if they were not definite. According to the guy running the show, Stéphane Kandler, the future, "Does not depend only on me. I did the utmost of what I could do. I took enormous financial risks and now the team needs a strong supporter. And, to get to the next level, one needs a partner very quickly."

Loud and clear, Stéphane. I hope it clicks, and I hope to see your team sailing in Germany in August and San Francisco in September.

Thursday was slow around the Darsena, populated only by the hardiest or most driven survivors of last night's Louis Vuitton Cup party, an institution and a legend in the life of America's Cup sailors since 1983, when French Cup skipper Bruno Trouble' introduced the Louis Vuitton Cup as a competition for the challengers, to be awarded to the winner of the eliminations, the one that gets to race for the America's Cup.

The first Louis Vuitton Cup went to Australia II, the first challenger to ever take the Cup. And the inaugural Louis Vuitton Cup party (black tie, of course) was held that year in Newport at Hammersmith Farm (Jackie Kennedy's childhood home), which set the tone for all that followed. This year, after experiencing some difficulties with a location in the city, Louis Vuitton chose an old and previously derelict monastery or some such grand thingamajig up north of Valencia that presented an incredible logistical challenge. Just shuttling two thousand of Bruno's closest friends from Port America's Cup and back should have been challenge enough, but there was also the job of transforming a party scene that a few weeks ago included vast piles of rubble into a location worthy of the elegant Vuitton stamp. All the parts worth remembering were good.

And I know this is not a high energy entry, but dear reader, I got there and back. Yes, to those of you stuck in the rumor mill, there are legal issues between Louis Vuitton and America's Cup Management. No, I'm not researching the details. Frankly, I don't care. They do not affect the outcome of the next America's Cup match, which is what affects the next Louis Vuitton Cup. Bruno is a hero to my ilk; he has taken care of us through the years, and we don't forget. And I made it to China Team, and now I have a bike. It's Chinese, and the grips are a little small, but it's like suddenly having wings. Valencia, here I come—Kimball