Sunday, December 30, 2007

Reap the Whirlwind

What a whirlwind as we close out 2007.

An Olympics controversy.

An America's Cup controversy.

Boats breaking on the ocean.

In the Barcelona World Race, it seems that keeping a mast vertical might be nothing more than a long-term prescription for hitting something at speed. Paprec-Virbac 2 pulled out to a 923-mile lead over Hugo Boss in this seriously-depleted fleet—five boats remaining—and Boss is now back at sea after a pit stop for repairs to its rudder cassettes, but Paprec-Virbac 2 then hit something and developed rudder problems of its own. Temenos II is meanwhile headed to New Zealand for a pit stop and hoping the keel stays on that long and—

Remember the sad state of the solo Velux 5 Oceans, where Bernard Stamm was so far ahead that nobody could beat him but himself? The notion to create this inaugural doublehanded circumnavigation out of Barcelona had buzz, and has merit, but I'm thinking that round-the-world racing has some sorting out ahead, and the new-generation Open 60s needed more sorting ahead of this race. Here we see Damian Foxall taking the long walk to work on Paprec-Virbac 2.

AND momentum continues to build for an ISAF re-vote of the categories of boats to be sailed in the 2012 Olympics, with UK and Australian national authorities already committed to push for reconsideration, New Zealand apparently on the verge of committing, and the multihull slice of US Sailing at odds with its own national authority. ISAF of course is unenthusiastic about a re-vote, at least at the top. Andy Rice on Sailjuice has posted a letter from outgoing ISAF president Arve Sundheim to members of the ISAF Council, which is all about defending decisions as made last fall.

The pity is, many good people on the "establishment" side can see the beauty of a more enlightened approach—for the good of the sport, as opposed to maximizing a team's medal opportunities—but there's no way for them to swim across that river. And I predict, if you throw the bums out, the new bums won't fare much better.

Alinghi's new lawyers (they used to have "the best lawyers" but they fired them) are presently attempting to convince the Supreme Court of the State of New York that BMW Oracle Racing has challenged in a monohull 90 feet wide—that's not the way they phrase it; that's the way it logically parses—and Larry Ellison's team has meanwhile had Russell Coutts issue a statement that says, Huh? Like yeah, and they are going forward with steps toward racing a Deed of Gift match in big multihulls next October.

You can read Alinghi's arguments at, and you can read the words of Russell Coutts at the web site of the Golden Gate Yacht Club.

No reason to quit my Spanish lessons, eh?

And I'd be remiss to not offer congratulations to Roger Sturgeon and the crew of the first-ever STP 65, Rosebud, for winning IRC at the Rolex Sydney-Hobart. Rosebud had a good strong Transpac in 2007, a first at the Big Boat Series, and now this big international win. The STP 65 thing could go big . . .

Photo by Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex

And howzabout that line-honors threepeat for Bob Oatley's maxi, the cant-keeled Wild Oats? Remember that the boat was dismasted in the Med not so many months ago, and the crew raced a race to get to the race . . .

Photo by Carlo Borlenghi/Rolex

The Organ Pipes, as they are known, yield iconic images as surely and as routinely as Fastnet Rock, Castle Hill, or the Golden Gate. Which rhymes with '08. See ya there—Kimball