By Lynn Fitzpatrick
A tight track and crowded field of experts, rookies and rusty veterans vying for a $5,000,000.00 bonus ended with a pileup and the fatality of a 33-year old star.Dan Wheldon lost his life on a problematic course not meant for Indy cars.
What sailor is going to lose his or her life as the Oracle Racing Team, ACEA, ACOC, Golden Gate Yacht Club continue to promote a lethal America’s Cup format?Will it be the devil that wears Prada, Paul Cayard?Has Russell Coutts turned over the helm to the Aussies to save his mercenary neck?The youngest helmsman to win the America’s Cup, Jimmy Spithill, is closest in age to Wheldon.His 2010 America’s Cup victory hardly registered in the international sports pages.Wheldon’s two Indy 500 wins barely made mention among the U.K.’s sports reports, yet his calamitous crash became instantaneous headline material.Is Spithill destined for the same infamy?Worse yet, is Darren Bundock going to take the fall before translating his Olympic medals into serious income?
As sailing tries to join the ranks of professional sports and elite sailors look for ways to earn a living aside from becoming sail makers, boat builders, riggers and coaches, they are hopping aboard a ship destined for Davy Jones' Locker. Some have Olympic medals in their trophy case.Others have weighed the odds and acknowledge their lack of self-confidence and funding by selling out at a price that could be the value of their heads.It’s one thing to go down in a storm at sea, it’s another to be nothing more than a bear in a circus that dishonest businessmen, politicians and their cronies are promoting for their own material gain.
Face it Larry Ellison and his rag tag team did not win the America’s Cup.They purchased the America’s Cup by one-upping all of their opponents.Money was no object.It purchased the allegiance of talented athletes, engineers, builders, coaches, lawyers and more.The 33rd America’s Cup was decided in a court of law not on the water. Had Alinghi won on the water, the rogue challenger threatened more legal obfuscation.Let’s straighten out the format for the America’s Cup.The experienced and the rookies have proven that they can not handle the AC45’s.
Any sailor who steps aboard an AC45, or heaven forbid, an AC72 steered by the likes of a monohull skipper with a few years of match racing and very limited multihull experience, is signing a death sentence.Before we know it, Coutts, Cayard et al will be promoting a fleet race in San Francisco Bay and one of the ACOC titans put up a $5,000,000.00 purse to the winner.I’ll take odds on that at least one of the AC boats crashing into the wall of megayachts wandering too close to the lay lines.
Accidents can be avoided. Let's preempt a disaster.