News and views on motorsports

Monday, June 04, 2007

Off Topic: America's Cup

I know next to nothing about sailing. Truth be told I hardly watch any sailing events on the telly. But just as the Ryder Cup is the only golf tournament I watch (despite my hatred for the so called sport), the America's Cup is an event I do not miss.

On occasions like these ignorance is bliss and I can just sit back and enjoy the events of the 32nd America's Cup currently held in Valencia. Time precludes me from following every race closely but I do keep up with events in the news.

I simply do not see how the Italians can win against the Kiwis. Tactics or not, Team New Zealand's boat (simply christened "New Zealand") is simply too quick for Luna Rossa. And the team themselves seem incredibly serious and will allow nothing to stand in their way. I understand from my Kiwi friend that the Alinghi win 4 years ago was a huge sore point for New Zealand, especially since the Swiss challenge was headed by a Cup winning Kiwi, Russell Coutts. When the Kiwis took their third straight victory against Luna Rossa yesterday, the crew did not even shake hands or even so much as smiled. It all seemed business as usual and merely another step towards settling a grudge. The boys on New Zealand seemed ready for a brawl.

But the upset so far has been the exit of Oracle BMW Racing from proceedings off the coast of Spain having lost 5-1 to Luna Rossa. (To be honest, I'm rather pleased about that) Oracle BMW of course had the largest budget of all the challengers. Reputedly BMW even lent their assistance in supplying technology and technical expertise, some of which honed in grand prix racing into the challenge. But alas, it was all to no avail. Despite all the tech and know how, the team allegedly did not gel properly being led by yet another Kiwi, whose abrasive style rubbed the crew the wrong way. Whilst Oracle BMW have been generous with their praise for Luna Rossa and Francesco De Angelis, pundits aren't so sure that Luna Rossa won so much as Oracle BMW lost it. But all credit to the Luna Rossa team for their better spirit and teamwork beating out the technological and financial juggernauts.

What is the attraction of the America's Cup for me? I guess its a mixture of things. The boats look so good and because of their tall sails, never fail to impress me. The teams and boat crews are multinational just like grand prix racing. Like the Ryder Cup, its a battle of pride and I like that. And lastly, rather like motor racing, its not only about the team and crew but also about the vehicle or in this case the vessel. In motor racing the engineers look at mechanical grip. In sailing they focus on hydrodynamics. But aerodynamics effects both sailing and motor racing and plays a big role in determining the performance of the yachts. I am constantly fascinated by technical things (especially things that are raced) and these yachts are simply intriguing. Even Formula 1 engineers seem to be captivated. Adrian Newey has often expressed interest in getting involved.

Well, here's hoping Luna Rossa puts up a bit of a fight and doesn't simply roll over for New Zealand. And lets hope the finals will be a cracker, no matter who wins the Lous Vuitton and goes up against Alinghi.

Before I leave, I would like to express my dismay with the fact that the country that started this, the battle for the oldest trophy in sport, have no challenger on the water. Yes, I am talking about Britain. I mean, even China has a boat and so do the Germans (what the hell do those buggers know about this? And no, its not Oracle BMW I'm speaking of) and even South Africa rustled up a boat from somewhere! Italy have no less than three different teams challenging for the Auld Mug. For a nation that built an empire on the strength of its navy, it seems shameful that Britain cannot muster a proper challenge.


Scott Simmons said...

It's great to see a none sailor so keen on watching it.

kris said...

Like you,i know nothing about sailing but got turned onto single hand enduros back in '90's by a book called "The Godforsaken Sea" author Derek Lundy. If you like motor racing check out the Vendee & the Velux Five Oceans races. One of the Vendee racers, Pete Goss also published a book about it, another good read. For some reason these races appeal to motorsport fans who venture into those waters.

kris said...

Sorry, re: Adiran Newey: I forgot to mention, I think I remember from Pete Goss's book that McLaren (I could be wrong about the the actual team) supplied some tech input into building another round the world racer he built.