The Artistry Formerly Known as Whitbread

As most of you know, I’m a big fan of sailing.

However I’ll be the first to admit that the America’s Cup this year was an utter embarrassment to both the sport itself, and to all Gentlemen of the Halyards.

It basically devolved into a litigious pissing contest between Société Nautique de Genève and the Golden Gate Yacht Club (after all the other challengers dropped out), and the winner was decided by a best-of-three series…between a catamaran and a fucking trimaran.


To Alinghi, Oracle/BMW, and the city brass of Valencia? You should be ashamed of yourselves. But, I suppose that’s what happens when you become solely focused on the potential fiscal opportunities of a thing, and remove the people and the culture that made it special.

In case that wasn’t absolutely clear, I’d be happy to explain my three step process for fixing the America’s Cup:

1. Send the goddamn trophy back to Newport. It never should’ve left to begin with. (And if I ever see Dennis Connor on the street, I’m beating the shit out of him on principle.)

2. Stop with all this multilhull ridiculousness. 12-meters, people. 12-meters! (See “fuckwit” above.)



It’s not a difficult concept to grasp or, more importantly, to enter into the rulebook.

3. Stop with all the Louis Vuitton silliness. The America’s Cup is one event. One. Like the World Cup. Or The Olympics. It is not a cumulative series of weighted races spanning four years, simply because it affords you more opportunities to sell advertising space.

Do those three things, and you’ll be well on your way to fixing something that never should’ve been messed with to begin with.

And, now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about The Whitbread…


I’m sorry. I mean the “Volvo Ocean Race.” (Once again the corporate milkhogs set about slapping their logo on anything with space for a bumper sticker…)

So here’s how this one is supposed to work:

Approximately 17 months from now (sometime in October 2011), a fleet of boats with no more than 11 crew aboard each will leave Alicante, Spain and begin begin a race around the world.

Yes, around the world.

The race ends in Galway, Ireland approximately 9 months later. (Or as soon as they can get there…after going around each “gate” in the course.)

For example, here’s the route from the last race:

A few other things you should know:

– There’s no fresh food allowed on board these boats, everything is frozen and packed…and there isn’t a whole lot of it. Meaning you’re working while hungry most of the time.

– Each crew member is allowed ONE change of clothes.

– The temperature will vary from the mid 20’s to the low 100s.

– Some legs of the trip are over 20 days long. Longer if the weather is uncooperative. And for the uninitiated, 20 days of straight sailing without a break is serious. I was offshore for 7 days straight once, pulling 8-hours-on/4-hours off shifts, and I thought my mind was going to snap. These people handle 3 times that amount…and I’m in awe of them for it.

– By the time they’re finished, they will have raced over 44,000 miles. About a quarter of the way from here to the moon.

“Okay, I’m interested” you say, “but who’s racing in this thing?”

Well, so far Italy, France, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Arab Emirates have all signed on. And, given that this just showed up in my office this morning…

I think you know who I’ll be pulling for.


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