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America’s Cup: 4th of July Fizzle

Published on July 7th, 2013

By Cynthia Ross, Visual.Ink.Communications
San Francisco, CA (July 7, 2013) – The holiday weekend opened with a bang, at the much heralded America’s Cup Park at Pier 27-29. Flanked by colorful catamarans, the AC45s dancing on their moorings, tens of thousands of visitors flowed through the gates.

Admittedly, most had no idea what they were walking into, but they gawked at the Megayachts, sipped wine from the Napa Valley, and were ushered into the America’s Cup Pavilion for the impressive opening ceremonies, which included entertainers from each of the competing nations.

In the something old, something new category –

The trophies, both the historic 162 year old America’s Cup, and the quarter century old Louis Vuitton Cup, were presented onstage. The America’s Cup is the oldest continuing sports competition, predating the modern Olympics, and the Civil War.

An 8 year old diva, Nayah Damasen, wowed the crowd of over 8,000 with a ripping rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, with steady nerves and graceful composure.

Members from the four teams were paraded out and introduced to the crowd. They became instant heroes to this “reality TV” generation, as well as to those in the crowd who actually follow yacht racing.

The evening fireworks, along the waterfront were spectacular, unmarred by characteristic fog, held looming just outside the Golden Gate.

But there was no yacht racing.

At the Opening Press Conference with team skippers, the continuing controversy, and dissent lay just under the surface. Nothing new at an America’s Cup competition, but effectively robbing the visitors of a spectacular experience, the AC72s “flying on the water.”

Protests were filed last week, by Team New Zealand and then Luna Rossa Challenge, against the implementation of a set of safety regulations which includes a variation on the size and shape of the foil elevator of the rudders and its placement, as an unfair advantage to Oracle Team USA and Artemis Racing.

Unwillingly at the eye of the “safety” storm, after the tragic loss of Andrew “Bart” Simpson, Artemis Racing CEO Paul Cayard stated if the protest is upheld, his team would be forced out of the competition.

Subsequently, Cayard explained, “we have 2 sets of rudders, one in the class rule configuration, the other reconfigured in good faith, to comply with the safety rules agreed upon in May. We simply don’t have enough time, to create another set. If the protest is upheld, Artemis Racing will be precluded from the event”. Time is not something that Artemis has much of, as they race the clock to get their remaining boat ready to sail, still about two weeks out.

Luna Rossa Challenge threatened to boycott the first Louis Vuitton race on Sunday, unless the protest regarding the change of rules was resolved. Skipper Max Sirena stated they would not sail on principle.

Russell Coutts, CEO of OracleTeamUSA, retorted to the SF Chronicle, “The Italians are acting like spoiled rich kids dressed in Prada gear.”

Despite their own pending rules protest, which predates LR, Team New Zealand’s Dean Barker enthusiastically stated, “we’re here, we’re ready to go racing”.

Director Ian Murray said all challenger boats are in measurement and ready to go racing. “To win the America’s Cup you have to go out and win races. If you don’t turn up, you don’t win races, you don’t get points, you don’t win the America’s Cup.”

Friday’s scheduled parade of boats went on without an AC72 wing in sight. The highly anticipated time trials scheduled to run on the course were cancelled due to the new rule limits on wind speeds safe for these beasts. (boats)

On Saturday, although last week both AC72s made a big YouTube splash by sparring on the water, OracleTeam USA did not take to the field during their scheduled “Defender access to the race course”. It would seem that the Champions declined to champion the faltering festivities. And declined to comment.

During an open house for the press, Artemis helmsman, Nathan Outteridge, responded to the refusal to race by LR, “If they want to loan us the boat, we’ll race on Sunday.”

So to wrap up our holiday weekend, on Sunday we will go out to the waterfront, climb on a rock and raise a glass of bubbly, to Team New Zealand, as they run their victory lap, alone.

Photo by Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa Challenge 2013

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