In what could be the most amazing comeback in sail racing history, OTUSA took two more first place finishes today, bringing their total points to 5 to ETNZ's 8. OTUSA have found the groove, and since the installation of Ben Ainslie as their navigator, the boys have made very few tactical errors on the race course. The boat seems to have found another gear, and regularly foils UPWIND at over 25 knots! A truly incredible feat!
Still, the Kiwis aren't slow by any means! Several times today they stepped up the pace and wound up mere meters off of OTUSA's transoms, after being more than 300 meters back. There's no doubt in our minds that ETNZ is still in this thing in a BIG way! And because of all this drama and close racing, it's easy to say that today was one of the best sailboat races that we've ever seen! The emotion in the America's Cup Park was intense, and the whole crowd was on-edge the entire day. How much longer can it last? Well, let's see...
According to the original Marine Event Permit, the America's Cup only has that patch of water reserved until tomorrow afternoon, which to us seems to make it impossible for OTUSA to win even with their incredible performance... without an amendment to the MEP, of course.
Let's play a little "what if" for a second. Knowing that OTUSA needs a minimum of 2 more days of racing to bring home The Cup, what if the racing is shut down for time limits, weather, or any other unforeseen act of god over the next few days, then what? What about if ETNZ plays their "Postponement Card?" That would mean that OTUSA needs 3 more days of racing to win. The Rolex Big Boat Series fires up on the 26th, and one of their courses runs right along the City Front! So there are some impending time crunches...but we're sure that someone has thought about all of this already?
We're having a good time watching this thing unfold, so as far as we're concerned, keep it coming!
If anyone knows where we can find an amended MEP, or even if one exists, we'd love to see it! We have emails in to several of our America's Cup friends for more information.
Hundreds of America's Cup items are currently being auctioned off in San Francisco!
Step right up folks! We're gonna start the bidding for this beautiful, one-of-a-kind America's Cup desk. It would be a nice addition to your office or living room...
That's right, my revolutionary readers! Just think of the fun we could have with this at our next party:
Or how about this:
The potential is great to use these items in an epic way, and you can own them if you win the bid! All kinds of other interesting America's Cup items are currently being auctioned off by Heritage Global Partners. Go get registered, and score yourself a new, slightly used teak patio set. Or how about an olive tree? A rock weighted flag staff? Sky's the limit!
You'll find something that you need, we're sure!
It's easy to talk smack on this America's Cup; it's like picking low hanging fruit. It's true that this Cup cycle has hit some fairly big bumps and rough patches on the water, but for the last couple of weeks the ebb seems to have slacked, and the course is smoothing out nicely! Today, barring no second race due to wind limits, was as close to the original Cup-in-San-Francisco vision as we think we're going to get. And you know what? It was pretty darn good!
On our trip into SF, we entered The City from the west, and just as we had gotten off of Hwy 1 and began dropping into the Presidio, we started noticing crowds of people lining every spot that had a decent view of The Bay. Armies of cell-wielding gawkers had their cameras out, held high and trained on the pair of AC72 as Spithill and Barker blasted around for their pre-start maneuvers. I headed down to waterfront,and Crissy Field, my fail-safe parking area, was blocked off with a sign that read, "Lot Full." Heading eastward along the Marina I noticed that the StFYC and the jetty out near the Wave Organ were packed! There were a ton of spectators around Fort Mason, the Maritime Museum, and on down by Pier 39 as well.
Even if the majority weren't hardcore Cup enthusiasts, there were still a lot of spectating eyeballs focused on the spectacle. Honestly, I felt like today was the first time that San Francisco had lived up to its amphitheater moniker. The racing is close, the weather was epic, and people had it all figured out.
We found a parking spot near Pier 39, and headed down the the AC Village. It was midway through the first race of the day, and we could hear the thunderous roar from the crowd. As we approached the first viewing area, every beanbag chair, and virtually every square inch of the fake grass carpet was occupied. All eyes were focused on the giant flat screen which was blaring out the race coverage live. It was like a bunch of friends hanging out in a living room watching the big game, but bigger! People had beer, snacks, and everyone was having a good time.
We continued down the pier to the second viewing area, and as we rounded the corner the crowd let out another thunderous roar as ETNZ pulled off some great maneuver. This was as packed as I'd ever seen it on the pier, and again it was just like watching epic racing in your living room with a couple-a-thousand of your friends. In an environment like that, it doesn't matter who your rooting for, we're all humans with a common interest...Guys in Oracle garb, having a good time with the guy with a Kiwi flag next to him! Don't get us wrong, there's a lot of ribbing; as it should be.
We've been fairly critical of the event, mostly due to running afoul of some politics early on, but we can honestly say that today was the most epic day of sailboat racing that we've ever seen! Thousands of people cheering, international camaraderie, and bad-ass foiling multihulls ripping up The Bay, that's a good time! The absolute best part, we didn't pay a freaking dime! OK, that's not entirely true, we had a 12er in our backpack, and had to pay $9 to park, but we would have spent that anyway on something way more stupid!
So today for us was a turning point, and unfortunately it's most likely the second to last day of racing. But who knows? We were wrong yesterday, and OTUSA took another race. Sure there are a lot of negatives, but anyone who can't see one slight positive in this America's Cup should pull their head out, because it's actually pretty incredible.
The Golden Gate Yacht Club has been looking mighty fine lately, and over the past year or so we've been noticing a lot of major, aesthetic improvements. New awnings, a fresh coat of paint, new tables and chairs, and many other beautifications have raised the place from blue-coverall to true blue-blazer status. Since it's the "Home of the America's Cup" and throngs of people from all over the world have been visiting, and the club has been bedecked in all manner of America's Cup and Oracle Team USA branded banners and signs. The club has unrolled the red carpet, and has a very homey, welcoming feel. It's a great place to go and watch all of the activity on the San Francisco Bay through its giant plate glass windows which englobe the upper story. It's really a nice spot!
One bit of flowering garnish that caught our eye is planted in an over-sized ceramic pot near the entrance to the club. It's a nicely shaped shrub about 10' tall, with sage green leaves, and beautiful red bottle-brush flowers. As we were leaving the club, after having a nice lunch and a few rums, our friend Ellen remarked, "That's a Pohutukawa, and it's native to New Zealand." Noting the irony of having a plant that is native to New Zealand (the challenger) standing proudly at the entrance of the defender's Yacht Club, we went home and cranked up Google for a little research. Now we're not botanists by any stretch, but the images we found of the Pohutukawa sure do resemble the potted perennial to us.
We've seen various opening ceremonies where ETNZ has invited Maori warriors to bless their boat and crew with traditional dancing, and it got us to thinking...Maybe Oracle's bad luck during this 34th America's Cup can be blamed on some sacred Maori magic? Obviously ETNZ have embraced the native traditions of their island's ancestry enough to give the Traditional Maori an occasional center stage! And maybe the sacred energy is embodied in this endemic Kiwi species of plant which is standing guard at the entrance to Oracle's club?
Well, most likely OTUSA being up against the wall in this 11th hour with only 1 point to ETNZ's 8 is due to their boat handling, tactical calls, and generally not having good team cohesiveness, but one has to wonder...Maybe they should have contacted a Lakota elder to bring some smudge of sweet grass and sage down to Pier 80? Or maybe they should have had the Maidu come over to conduct a sacred blessing ceremony? Or maybe the team could have had a traditional sweat lodge before racing each day? Unfortunately we'll never know.
Wait, what's that you say? OTUSA is mostly made up of Kiwis and Aussies? No wonder the traditional powers are all confused...
Early in the day, multiple sources close to The Cup told us today that OTUSA will be trading out the Bay Area's own John Kostecki for multiple time Olympic medalist Sir Ben Ainslie, due to a lackluster tactical performance. Curious to see if Kostecki was on board today during their practice, we put on our long lens and snapped a few frames of their 72 cruising along in the light breeze. Sure enough, we saw the white block lettering on the back of a black crew jersey spelling out K-o-s-t-e-c-k-i grinding away on the aft pedestal, and didn't think much of it. To our surprise when we started editing our photos on a big screen we noticed something interesting! Though we didn't get a good front view, the guy in the Kostecki jersey didn't really look like him. You tell us, is that Ainslie wearing Kostecki's gear?
And to get a good view of what Ainslie looks like, check out this interview with him from yesterday!
Edit: We just saw this post from the AC:
The web can be a hostile environment. It's the wild west of our modern world, and it's very easy to post a fairly anonymous negative comment on a person's Facebook Page, Chat Board, or the comment section of a newspaper. After the IJ ruling that had several OTUSA sailors banned from the America's Cup, and levied a fine against them for illegal modifications to several of their AC45s, the mean spirited, online commentary toward the team has been like a maelstrom of dissent. The team's FB pages have been a depository for much of this dissatisfaction, and pretty much every article written in the SF Chron is littered with diatribes against their home team and The Cup in general. Is OTUSA crumbling under the stress? Something's up!
Beers cracked, myself and a pro sailor friend of mine huddled around the flat screen like a couple of Joe Sixpacks waiting for the football game to start. Being more doers than watchers, we've never given two shits about any other professional sports, so this race 5 of the America's Cup was our chance to join the American Sports Fanatic fray. The screen lit up, the speakers pumped out that ethereal America's Cup tune, with the ominous image of The Cup rotating in the center of the screen. It was on!
Jimmy and Dean were in their pre start maneuvers, and I turned to my bro and asked if he'd like to make things a little more interesting. It was bet time! We were embracing wholeheartedly this sit-around-the-telly-watching-other-dudes-sport thing. I threw down a $20 and said, "Two race wins for ETNZ today."
My friend slapped down his $20 and replied, "Alright, two race wins for OTUSA!"
The boats entered the starting box, accelerated, and the gun went off! Brilliant start by both boats, with a slight favor to OTUSA. Then OTUSA lit up like a rocket!
"Shit! There goes my $20."
"Looks like the dogs are eating good tonight!"
The boats sped down to the bottom mark, OTUSA in the lead, but ETNZ holding fast! Then, the first of a series of tactical errors, OTUSA lost so much speed in their turn heading backout toward Alcatraz to presumably to avoid the flood tide that ETNZ just passed and walked away. A series of other tactical errors required that OTUSA make several additional maneuvers throughout the rest of the race, which put them over a minute behind ETNZ when they finished. We were both kind of stunned, as we have each raced a bunch on The Bay, and expected a little more out of these guys.
Setting up for race six with another cold-one, and after ribbing my friend a little, we both witnessed one of the strangest decisions in professional sailing that either of us had ever seen. John Kostecki on the stern of OTUSA's 17, called the race committee and told them that OTUSA was going to use its one and only "postponement card!" My bro and I looked at each other puzzled, "...wonder if something is broken?" The only thing that appeared to be broken was their ability to quickly race around the course.
Kostecki's actual call to the Race Committee can be seen here at 1:11:25.
Here's the scene on board ETNZ when they found out that Oracle was pulling their card.
Jimmy immediately jumped on board a RIB to have a chat with the boss Russel Coutts!
Spithill's post race interview can be seen here:
One thing's for certain, no one on board 17 looked very happy after the decision was made!
Rumors around the docks speculate whether John Kostecki will be seen onboard USA 17 for the next racing or not, due to compounding tactical errors. There's even more speculation whether Ben Ainslie will be replacing him. Tomorrow is a lay-day, so we'll see if OTUSA can pull it together for racing on Thursday.
Oh, and I didn't take my buddy's $20, it just didn't seem right. He's on for Thursday though!