Thursday, October 23, 2008

Changed My Mind

So I was going to write about the current state or nonstate of the America's Cup—playing chicken, something like that—but I just can't get the words out.

Is it possible that what I hear coming back at me is a collective, "Oh thank gawd!"

Far more rewarding to note that the Challenger of Record du Jour's former team had a breakthrough in the long race of the TP52 Worlds at Lanzarote. That would be Desafío under Paul Cayard winning a 53-mile race in under five hours. Add twelve seconds, and over the line comes Terry Hutchinson and Quantum.

Quantum had been in front until a spinnaker blew.

We'll call that close.

What they talked about all night, however, was this clusterment at the first mark that included a hit (Russian boat's bow into stern of Platoon) with Bribón disqualified for not giving room to Synergy. Worth a click to enlarge.

Nobody has more fun, eh?

Thanks to Nico Martinez for the pics.

That's Desafío above, which gives you some insight into the conditions and helps in turn to explain why . . .

After Platoon completed the course, the boat's ex-Commie helmsman Jochen Schümann (he won a Finn gold medal for East Germany in 1976) made the beach and declared, "My whole body aches."

Me, I can't look at Paul driving with the tiller extension and not think of him as a kid in a Laser, surfing the break at the South Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Pushing the envelope.

And I'm impressed, frankly, that the Mediterranean TP52 fleet, famously built for light going, held together except for some blown sails. With four buoy races to go for the world title, Quantum has the points advantage in a fleet of 14:

1. Quantum (USA), Terry Hutchinson, 2-6-1-4-6-2.50-2.50, 24.00 points
2. Mutua Madrileña (CHI), Vasco Vascotto, 3-1-6-1-1-8.75-10, 32.00 points
3. Artemis (SWE), Torbjorn Tornqvist, 1-2-2-11-13-1.25-10, 40.25 points
4. Desafío (ESP), Paul Cayard, 5-7-11-12-2-5-1.25, 43.25 points
5. Platoon (GER), Jochen Schuemann, 8-9-12-3-3-6.25-3.75, 45.00 points


OK, it's nothing to match the world records set in Namibia this fall, but the Midwest Speed Quest continues to be one of the coolest boutique operations going. I wrote about it on October 18, 2007 (Make Something Happen) and described how Craig Bergh took it on himself to just . . . make . . . this . . . thing . . . happen.

That is, to invite people to come to the center of his world, Worthington, Minnesota, and partake of the big breeze that blows across the plain. And partake of his hospitality. And get out on Lake Okabena and sail fast. As Craig describes the deal, looking back over 2008:

"I really want to thank the Sailors. Our home remains open to all visiting Windsurfers. We invite you all back again in 2009!

"The Midwest Speed Quest was designed to be different. This event is free to all participants, and yet pays the highest Prize Money in North America. The purpose is to promote the new Sport of Speed Sailing and the City of Worthington. Our goal was to bring Sailors of all skill levels together and introduce them to the new Sport of Speed Sailing. The schedule was open 7 days a week for a 6 month period. Any visiting sailor was assured of the chance to participate anytime he/she was in the area. We provide free or discounted motel rooms at the AmericInn, free refreshments on the Beach, and free hot meals at the end of the day.

"And we had the best Speed Sailing gear available for visiting sailors to try out.

"We also provided free on-site Child Care and Pet Care. We even provided Spousal Care (care of the Windsurfing Widow)!

"All the work associated with this event was done on a volunteer basis. Meals and refreshments were served beachside all season long free of charge. A special thanks to my wide Pamela Bergh for the many fine meals cooked and served over the last 6 months to the visiting Sailors.

"We were delighted with the demo gear provided by the Sponsors. Each year we seek out the finest Speed Sailing Gear available anywhere in the world."

Much of that gear is loaned out, and some of it goes as prizes.

You gotta love this guy. The '08 results:

1st Place: David Knight, Fridley MN 31.57 knots (36.31 mph)
2nd Place: Guy Miller, Austin Texas 31.46 knots (36.18 mph)

1st Place Allison Shreeve, Sydney Australia 26.24 knots (31.18 mph)
2nd Place Karen Marriott, Lakewood CO 22.78 knots (26.20 mph)

Dig that? Here's David Knight doing his Lake Okabena thing, as photographed by Todd Spence . . .

Now, in the spirit of the Midwest Speed Quest, go make something happen.

SIGH . . .

And I guess I need to put SAIL on record as acknowledging that Alinghi . . . oops, how could I be so silly as to write that? I mean of course La Société Nautique de Genève, as Defender, has announced an event upcoming in a matter of weeks for a few Cup players—apologies to those of you on some other side of the world—which is apparently intended to comply with the Annual Regatta obligation of the Challenger of Record du Jour, CNEV, an entity-of-sorts that nearly blew away in the dust of all court rulings to date except one. The most-recent one.

And they have announced a resumption-of-sorts of planning for the 33rd America's Cup, with an entry deadline that puts antagonists BMW Oracle Racing and Team New Zealand in a place-your-bets position by demanding entry from all challengers before December 15.

Almost certainly before the pending appeal is decided in the New York courts, re. the status of CNEV as a qualified Challenger of Record.

An interesting play, actually. Much better than some of Alinghi's moves.

And you gotta love this official announcement: "Alinghi, Defender of the 33rd America’s Cup, accepts the Challenger of Record, Club Náutico Español de Vela’s invitation to race in the America’s Cup Class series during their Annual Regatta in Valencia on the 8 and 9 November."

It was so good of CNEV to think of them.

Now, if there's anything bugging you about the America's Cup, do let us know . . .