America’s Cup Demolition Derby

18 Aug

So two races completed in the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals, and both decided by breakdowns. In the first race on Saturday, Charlie posted the spectacular Emirates Team New Zealand nosedive (amazing the wing did not come down). But the race, in fact, was already over (which proves that it is very hard to dial back these boats during a bear away), because Luna Rossa had already been crippled by a daggerboard breakdown.

Sunday, at least we got a pre-start and a few legs before a race-ending breakdown. In this case it was ETNZ, with an electronic malfunction which crippled their hydraulics, allowing Luna Rossa to sail past and take the win. ETNZ was thumping Luna Rossa at the time, so maybe the most suspenseful element of the racing in the LV Final for any given race will be which boat breaks first.

Throw in the fact that the next race was cancelled (as was the second race on Saturday) because the wind in San Francisco (which was picked in part because it was windy) was too strong, and you are looking at an America’s Cup that mainstream TV broadcasters will never touch in a million years.

So please let’s go back to focusing on making the America’s Cup exciting and interesting to sailors, and think about going back to boats that don’t break so easily and can engage one another closely.


  1. Sail NYC

    Watch sailboats go in and out of a marina and you might tend to wonder what you are seeing. After all, it would make sense that sailors know how to sail well enough to slide alongside a pier, piling, wharf, seawall, or even into a slip. And do so under sail alone–when their engine dies.

  2. ryan

    Bob Thibodeau said it right! And Michael, you are spot on! These boats are awesome. Even after the Luna Rosa breakdown in race one we watched the Kiwis bury their bow and lose two men. The race is never over. The French boat breaking in half is one of the many things I remember of past regattas. The Melges boats(24,20, and 32) came out after looking at some of the crazy stuff done on AC boats. It has been quite a ride for the Melges family. The Moths now are one of the great fleets to race and watch. Why, because they are cool and fast. Yes, these guys pushed these boats too far! And it is kind of a farce but still fun to watch and I think the finals will be great. If not, it won’t be the first snooze fest in the America’s Cup. I can’t afford to do it nor am I close so I don’t care how much they poor into it! Good luck Oracle!

  3. Kamil Khan

    Back to the 12 meters at least there was some form of a contest. The fremantle doctor would be blowing and sailors would be racing. Breakages took place yes but this whole LV exercise is one in futility and a bit premature; get the tech right and race by all means.

  4. Dave Russell

    Progress always brings controversy. “Go back” you say. Yep, I’ll take a coal burning steam locomotive to where ever the next AC is held. I am excited to watch the transfer of some of the technology that the AC45’s and AC72’s will bring to sailboats of the future. In my opinion, sailboat design is about to enter a new renaissance. Bring it on!

  5. Michael Peteler

    After the cup it would be cool if they would modify them for sailing speed records, Larry can afford a little extra tweaking without class rules to create a monster speed machine

  6. Martin

    Do we talk sailing here ?
    Wouldn’t these “boats” better participate in Red Bull’s Flying Circus.

  7. AC45 Fan

    Going back to the 12’s is not the answer. As much as I love the 12’s, they were only fun to watch in the heavy air and chop in Perth. They were a snoozefest in the light air of Newport, if you could get out to see them.

    I don’t have any problem with the stadium format and the unique rules. The 45’s were robust and they were affordable. There were 10 boats in the ACWS, and it was fun to watch. It would have been a much more successful America’s Cup had they used a class rule based on the AC45 instead.

  8. Jim Thompson

    I am here watching these races,
    This is my 5th Americas Cup”.
    These Boats are spectacular but VERY Fragile.
    I’m tempted to call it “THE FIASCO IN FRISCO”

  9. Woody

    You have to be in it to win it. A war of attrition, where the only boat able to finish in a two boat race will win, is not a fun race to watch, nor be a participant. This remains the the single AmCup series with the highest percentage of racing breakdowns in history I believe. Dogzilla dominated and all races were started and finished without near constant mishaps. These 72’s left the drawing board far too soon. Their ultra high speed, and g-forces created, demand a higher level of thought to serious construction flaws then we are now seeing.

    Not to worry about AmCup not being an ‘elitist’ race. With only the world’s richest 1% er’s able to pony up the billion for a run at this Cup, you needn’t be concerned. A terrible miscalculation looking for Nascar car crashes crowds by putting speed over safety and construction. This isnt ever going to be France with hundreds of tbiusands about to line the shores to see racing sailors coming home.

  10. Bob Thibodeau

    The cup has always been about pushing the limits of technology to achieve advantage. Elitist? Always has been. Expensive? Always has been. Innovative? eh….
    Just because this time around pushed the envelop farther and harder doesn’t mean you revert back to the old status quo. Perservere!

  11. Michael Peteler

    12 meter boats had there share of breakdowns as well. Has anyone forgotten the boat that broke in half? How bout the last Volvo Ocean Race boats were breaking left and right. I sail and race a 7 knot SB and love every moment of it but the Americas Cup has always been an elitist race and should remain so. The sport of sailing (my passion) is in serious trouble and I applaud the attempt to make it more exciting to the masses who have almost no clue the complexities of racing sailboats and have tried to tell me that sailing isn’t a sport.

  12. Woody

    Aye. My sentiments exactly. Back to the Classics? 12 Meters anyone?
    Why prematurely trot out too high tech & complex flying machines which cannot even get through a short course without breaking? More time on the drawing board, less time attempting to push the proverbial envelope so far all it takes is a wisp more of SF wind and chop to push it right over the edge and a shattering shuddering stop on a hard surface floor.

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