MAX EBB W
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• August, 2009
legal actions and even the mismatched boats that have kept this race in the pages of the New York Times for 158 years. Otherwise the America's Cup would be just another sailboat race, and everyone would have forgotten about it a hundred years ago." "And for us propeller-heads," added the catamaran racer, "this is the most exciting challenge since '88. There's actually something interesting to read about the boats for a change, from a techie point of view. Even if you don't like to read those legal blow-by-blow updates by Cory Friedman on the net." "Cory does great legal writing, if I say so myself," said the lawyer. "I still say this should be about sailboat racing," insisted the cruiser as he headed to the bar for a refill. "You know, he does have a point about the match itself not being very interesting to watch," said the cat racer after the cruiser had gone downstairs. "Even the fastest boats in the world are pretty boring after an hour of essentially similar visuals. Sure, we were all glued to the TV for the last A-Cup, but that's
mostly for the novelty of seeing sailing on the tube." "And the novelty of a close Cup race," I added. "Even with close racing, do you really think you'd watch sailing every week?" said the cat racer. "We'd all be looking for the remote to see what else was on before they get to the first mark." "Good point," I agreed. "I wouldn't miss the first crossing of Oracle and Alinghi. But after that? Might as well switch to the Grass Growing semi-finals." "And when all the boats look identical," said the cat racer, "there's not even a technology display to hold my interest. Boring."
ith the complaints of the cruiser far outnumbered by the enthusiasm of the racers, and no finishers in sight, the group continued to debate the outcome of the upcoming match. We concluded that in light air the Alinghi cat will probably be faster, at least in a straight line, mainly due to its light weight. But the cat will lose a lot on each tack, and that
Cat Scratch Fever — Spread, 'Alinghi' launched their 90-ft catamaran on Lake Geneva last month while 'BMW Oracle' has been sailing the kinks out of their 90-ft trimaran since last fall. Who has the upper hand?
STEFANO GATTINI / ALINGHI
e were up on the race deck waiting for the first finishers and having the same conversation heard in yacht clubs all over the world: Which is faster? A giant trimaran with foils or a giant catamaran with power winches? "I hate to say this, but I have to go with the cat," concluded one of our club's more experienced multihull racers as he scanned the last leg of our local race course with binoculars. "Given any two multihulls of equal size, the cat is always the faster boat." "Ah, but the sizes are not really equal," added another sailor, a retired ocean racer who now owned a very large cruising catamaran. "The tri has a bigger rig and longer overhangs, and it will put them in the water when it heels." "We don't really know if the tri is bigger," added a third expert, a lawyer who races a fast monohull sportboat. "But think of all the extra development time that Oracle's had," said the cat owner. "Alinghi is playing catch-up." "Not really, Alinghi has been working on multihulls for just as long, maybe longer, if you count their 40-footers." "Oracle still has the bigger, heavier and more powerful machine, and more time to get it debugged." "Remember what happened in '88?" asked the cat racer. "Conner beat off the surprise Deed of Gift challenge with a cat that was only half as big as the New Zealand monster monohull. It could happen again. Even under a straight Deed of Gift challenge, the defender moves last, and has the advantage." "I just wish they'd get back to normal America's Cup racing," sighed another cruiser between sips of beer. "All this legal stuff is ruining the America's Cup." We really didn't need this many people just to finish a club race, but RC volunteers get to run their afternoon bar tab on the race committee account, and sometimes there's a free lunch, so race deck duty tends to attract a few freeloaders. "I lost interest when the first lawsuit was filed," continued the cruiser, "and now we're going to have two completely different boats in the match, if there even is a match. No one's interested in watching this travesty." "Objection! Lacks foundation!" shouted the lawyer, pretending his witness was being unfairly cross-examined. "Read up on your America's Cup history. A bitter legal fight and two different state-of-theart boats is what the America's Cup has always been about. Right from that day in 1851 when the original America was launched, there was a dispute over the yard bill, and it's been the protests, the
The August 2009 issue of the West's premier sailing and marine magazine.