Larry Ellison, the world’s second wealthiest CEO after Warren Buffet, planned a huge yacht competition for the 4th of July. We’ll get to discover the contingency plan for this colossal event given the crash of the Artemis Racing team.
After World War II, America’s Cup established the ‘box rule’, where contestants agree to sail in the same type of boat with little freedom to make certain alterations to it. The dimensions of the AC72 were established by Ellison’s Team Oracle. Still, every team has a different version at some extent.
When tycoons discard this later box rule the competition is named the ‘deed-of-gift’. For instance, in 2010 Ellison participated in a pretentious rivalry against Ernesto Bertarelli, another billionaire. Some people claimed that they didn’t even use sailboats as the boats needed powered winches due to their massive size. At the end, Ellison won and wanted to go back to the classy box rule contest, still, with a similar victorious vessel. So, the AC72 was subsequently created for the next America’s Cup organized by him. That is why the world’s magnates lead these sailing contests, because in order to win, the vessel owners need to enhance them to gain competitive advantage with the latest nautical technologies, and money is no obstacle for them.
The event organisers expected at least 14 teams to compete this summer but the boats were too pricey. Hence, Prada Luna Rossa, Artemis Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand will be the only contestants challenging the Oracle.
During a training race on May 9 in San Francisco Bay, the Swedish team, Artemis Racing, crashed their $10million AC72 killing one of the 14 crewmates and greatly damaging the catamaran, or even causing its total loss. Jimmy Spithill, the captain of Artemis Racing, became the youngest skipper in the 162 years of the competition’s history when he won, at age 30, America’s Cup in 2010 for Ellison’s Team Oracle. Spithill’s boss, Russell Coutts, states that not only did the captain made the wrong decision to try a run in risky conditions, but to not take the boat into a sheltered location when it capsized in order to avoid any further damage.
Going back was the only possible way to avoid getting demolished by the wind and tide acting against each other and generating an overall of 33-knot gusts, which is beyond what the AC72 was able to manage, between 5 to 30 knots. But, the 72 feet long catamaran design of power and efficiency inhibits to turn the wing sail off when trying to sail straight into the wind. Thus, speed, reinforced by a coordinated and determined crew, became the only means to overcome such casualty. Anyhow, disaster was inevitable and, reaching around 40 miles per hour, the only view provided by the AC72 was of it hulled-down as steerage was impossible.
Nowadays, the event has no financial back-up as it used to have. It is too expensive, besides too risky in case the boats experience something similar to this disaster. Nevertheless, another capsize is predicted given the hazardous conditions in San Francisco Bay. Artemis and Oracle’s full contingency plan prepares them with an extra complete boat, whilst New Zealand has some additional parts besides their whole boat, whilst the vulnerable Prada has only a boat.
After the accident, a new wing arrived from New Zealand, and the recovered AC72 was improved to avoid similar misfortunes. Moreover, the invigorated Team Oracle is persists on generating and sharing new techniques and notions for every team to prevent further catastrophes.
Unfortunately, Ellison’s desires to transcend victoriously on the major sailing event won’t come true. With only three teams participating, the Cup is set to be the smallest in contemporary history.