America’s Cup-A A +A
Saturday, September 28, 2013
THE 34th America’s Cup was grabbed by Team Oracle USA in one of the most amazing come from behind fashion, a 9-8 win against Team Emirates New Zealand that became of challenger, having swept the competition in the Louis Vuitton Cup that preceded the tournament.
There is a joke that other than the United States and New Zealand, the world doesn’t really care much about the America’s Cup. For sailing enthusiasts and well, billionaires, it is most prestigious trophy, for the America’s Cup (or the “Auld Mug”) is given to the victor in match races between two sailing yachts.
The trophy was first given out in 1851 by the Royal Yacht Squadron to the schooner America. What makes the competition controversial is that winner is given the Deed of Gift, and sets the terms of the next competition. Thus, it is often marred by legal squabbles in court, prior to the actual races in the water.
New Zealand has been a fixture in this competition, having brought the America’s Cup two times (1995 and 2000) and being the challenger in three occasions (2003, 2007 and 2013). While most of the participants are financed by wealthy sailing enthusiasts, Team New Zealand gets its support from various sponsors and the government.
For the 2013 challenge, the budget for the campaign was over US$100 million with the NZ Government contributing $36 million. The modern catamaran costs $10 milllion, while the team obtained the services of the best Kiwi sailors who remained loyal to the team, as others left for other syndicates including Team Oracle USA (with its CEO and skipper having links with New Zealand).
The 2013 contest was marred by controversy, the most embarrassing for the defenders (Team Oracle USA) being given a penalty of -2 at the start of the match races after they were found guilty of cheating during the 33rd America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain.
Team NZ questioned its use of a tool that the defending team used midway through the contest, but the jury ruled in favor of Team Oracle USA).
Last week, Team NZ got to upper had with the score of 8-1. Just one more race and the Auld Mug would be back in Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland. Most people either stayed home early mornings (the races were contested at 8:10 and 9:10 every other day during weekdays, and Saturday and Sunday) or viewed these in their offices.
With the 8-1 score, talk was already about hosting the next Cup, taking into stride the statement of Team Oracle USA skipper Jimmy Spithill that he’d give Team New Zealand a run for its money. From there on, his team defeated Team New Zealand one race at a time.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the more than 4 million people of New Zealand. We were “so near, yet so far,” and there is some doubt if the NZ government would be willing to help in the next campaign.
But there is always good news on the other side: New Zealand have become world class in making sailing boats, and if there will be more competitors in the 35th America’s Cup the go to builder will be New Zealand, and of course, world-class sailors are available at the right price.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on September 28, 2013.