Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 Picture show

2010 was a year of great success for BMW ORACLE Racing. In the same year the team celebrated a decade of racing it notched victories in the 33rd America’s Cup, the 1851 Cup race around the Isle of Wight and the RC44 Season Championship. There were also honors for many, including James Spithill’s selection as Australian Male Sailor of the Year and entry to the America's Cup Hall of Fame for Mike Drummond and Murray Jones. We hope you enjoy our selection of the best images of the year.

The America’s Cup Class retired this year, but a race around the Isle of Wight resulted in one of the best upwind shots of the upwind machines.

Winning the America’s Cup meant a visit to the White House for a meeting with President Barack Obama. While it was the team’s first trip to Washington, D.C., the Cup returned for the first time since 1987.

USA shows fine form, higher and faster than Alinghi 5 in Race 1 of the 33rd America’s Cup Match.

Skipper Jimmy Spithill flashes the double “shaka” as he skydives some 13,000 feet above Dubai.

USA has the need for speed during training off Valencia prior to the 33rd Match.

Jimmy, the Cup and all the gang enjoyed a late June day in Times Square in New York City.

The Mediterranean off La Maddalena lived up to its “azur” billing.

The RC 44 BMW ORACLE Racing carves a trough in windy conditions off Copenhagen.

Team sailors were ablaze at the ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami two weeks ago, racing upwind off South Beach on USA-17 and USA-19.

It was a cold night in late December, 2009, when USA was unloaded in Valencia.

With the red carpet rolled out, team members parade in to join the America’s Cup in San Francisco’s City Hall for a reception one week after winning the 33rd America’s Cup.

Team members wait to view the daily rushes in 3D format from the Valencia TV Trials for the 34th America’s Cup in July.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Congrats to Fresh, Matty

Congratulations go out to team members Ian “Fresh” Burns (above) and Matthew Mason (bottom), as well as America’s Cup Regatta Director Iain Murray, for completing a safe passage and winning line honors in a challenging Rolex Sydney-Hobart Race.

The three were crew aboard the 30-meter super-maxi Wild Oats XI, which led the fleet across the finish line on Tuesday night but was made to wait until Wednesday afternoon to accept the JH Illingworth Trophy for first to finish. That’s because the race committee protested Wild Oats and a second yacht, Ran, for allegedly failing to properly report their imminent passage of Bass Strait. Wild Oats skipper Mark Richards was confident that the crew had complied with the race rules, and the jury dismissed the two protests on Wednesday afternoon, some 20 hours after the yacht had finished the race.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

BMW retires from the America’s Cup

At the end of the year BMW will bring to a close its longstanding partnership with ORACLE Racing and thereby end its involvement in the America’s Cup. This is by mutual agreement of both partners.

Both parties set ambitious goals and achieved the ultimate objective: winning the America’s Cup.

BMW has partnered BMW ORACLE racing since 2002. Technology and skills have transferred freely between the automaker and sailing team, most notably in the fields of structural engineering and high-modulus composite construction.

The result was celebrated in the February when the yacht USA 17, the fastest yacht in the history of the America’s Cup, won the 33rd Match with a resounding 2:0 victory off Valencia, Spain.

Please visit the BMW ORACLE Racing Web site for more information.

Friday, December 17, 2010

A sensational party to celebrate the end of an era

The team celebrated Christmas and bid farewell to the Base with a very special dinner party at number 8, Muelle de la Aduana.

After a warm welcome by two red-wigged masked angel-like dressed ladies, we enjoyed catching up with one another in a very familiar environment, that of the hospitality area of the base, which has been home for many of us for the last few years.

We all felt at ease until we were told to wear a blindfold, to relax and to FEEL.

We were guided through the Door of the Dreams or the Door of the Memories to take our seat, and an amazing journey began. Each one of us became the absolute protagonist of an adventure through new spaces opened up by our imagination and guided by our senses.

In the absence of sight, we were bombarded with a kaleidoscope of images, surprising tastes, delicate aromas, suggestive music, startling sounds, and were topped off with warm touches.

(From left) Kate (soon to be Mrs. Khan), Rebeca, Chad, Eduardo, Jos, Asim and Dolores

It felt like time stopped and we were free to stop worrying and thinking, while fairies (or angels) took care of everything else, pampered us, spoiled us!

Some of us completely relaxed, some felt slightly uncomfortable in a space and time where the only familiar element was Cathy’s contagious laugh and Carlos’ funny expressions of surprise.

It was a truly unique and surprising experience and an unforgettable way to say good bye to the base, where for seven years the team has worked hard and shared joy, disappointment, happiness, stress and ultimately success.

(From left) Simeon, Francis, Manolo, Niccol├│, John, Cathy, Nacho and Berit

“It was the one dinner I will never forget. I felt like I died and I woke up in heaven,” said Manolo Ruiz de Elvira. “What a fantastic way to keep the good memories of a stage in our life. I feel a bit sad, but just a bit, because the end of a stage represents the beginning of a new one.”

“It was a complete surprise. I am very happy to be here tonight. During my stay in Valencia the team became like a family. The greatest thing was to win the Cup and hold the trophy with Cathy as well as sharing the success with each team member, because it is everybody who makes this team a special one,” said Simeon.

What happened once we entered the Door of the Dreams and the Door of the Memories at Muelle de la Aduana, Base 8, we leave to the imagination of the reader!

A heartfelt thank you to Maria, Lisa, Laurent and Pablo for organizing a special, unforgettable night.

Happy holidays and hasta pronto!
--Irene Corosu

(From left) Sofia, Vicky, Lucy and Sara await their dreams and memories

(From left) Maria, Benedetta, Niccol├│ and Lisa

Thursday, December 16, 2010

James Spithill at the World Yacht Racing Forum

Watch BMW ORACLE Racing skipper James Spithill present the Opening Keynote Address at the World Yacht Racing Forum on Tuesday.

Teammembers help further cause of youth sailing foundation

During the ORACLE RC 44 Cup Miami last week, BMW ORACLE Racing CEO Russell Coutts, skipper James Spithill and crewmembers Dirk de Ridder and Ross Halcrow were part of an illustrious crowd that helped launch the Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation benefiting youth sailors in South Florida.

The occasion attracted some of yachting's most high-profile players, legends and renowned personalities. The BMW ORACLE Racing sailors joined 1992 America’s Cup champions Bill Koch and Buddy Melges of America3, and Olympic medalists Anna Tunnicliffe and Kevin Burnham as well as renowned one-design sailor Morgan Reeser.

(Picture courtesy John Payne Photography)

The evening was filled with unforgettable highlights. Koch, Melges and Coutts made short presentations that were educational, encouraging and most importantly, inspirational to many of the on looking youth sailors, their parents and some of Fort Lauderdale's high society.

Guests were hypnotized by Melges as he campaigned the mission of the Foundation. "This is something you should support. Think of all the places they'll go. Think of all the friends they will make. Think of all the opportunities they will have. Those are the things that last. These qualities are what make the sport of sailing unique and bring a lifetime of reward. This Foundation is where it all starts."

"The future of our sport is greatly dependent on how well youth and junior sailing is supported around the world," said Coutts. "Contributing to a Foundation such as this is a big step in making dreams come true, which can mean so much. I know that first hand. When we explore new developments at the America's Cup level it is about strengthening the sport, discovering new concepts that will take us to the next level of competitive sailing. This Foundation offers you a way to directly impact an extremely talented and skilled youngster's future. They too, are the next generation in sailing."

Coutts furthered Melges' initial thoughts and commented about how initiatives like the Lauderdale Yacht Club Sailing Foundation are very necessary and play an integral part in the future of the sport. Assisted by Spithill, Coutts entertained junior sailors with a quiz that in turn rewarded them well. Official BOR caps signed by Coutts and Spithill were given and two lucky kids were promised rides on an America's Cup boat.

The night ended on a high-dollar-note. Koch initiated a donation matching contest that resulted in the Foundation's first substantial contributions in excess of $300,000.

Afterwards, more than 35 junior sailors gathered and personally spoke with the special guests, acquiring autographs, sharing sailing stories and especially, thanking those who generously contributed to the Foundation.

(Picture courtesy John Payne Photography)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

James Spithill's speech at World Yacht Racing Forum

(Note: BMW ORACLE Racing skipper James Spithill gave the Opening Keynote Speech this morning at the World Yacht Racing Forum in Estoril, Portugal. Here is a copy of the speech.)

Good morning everyone and thanks for having me.

Before the coffee stops working and you guys gets too settled in your comfortable seats, I will make a few observations about our sport.

Then we’ll run a video with some great images with a taste of things to come.

That is a future for the America’s Cup that is full-on, dramatic and addresses a question which I guess is relevant to all of us here.

We love our sport.

Many of us have grown up with sailing since childhood and it’s more like a way of life.

But that doesn’t mean we can afford to take it for granted or miss an opportunity to improve it, make more it approachable and more understandable.

To be honest with you, I’d sign up for all three of those.

Naturally, my focus is the America’s Cup.

It is the most visible, the most talked about and, to me, the most challenging part of our sport.

Nothing comes close to testing how good you are at every single element in creating a winning team effort, than an Americas Cup.

Outsiders see it as a sailing contest, as a design contest or a management exercise.

Some of us know it as all of the above!

Controversy and the Cup never seem to be far apart. That was as true earlier this year as it was back in 1851.

While we would be bored of a sport without its talking points or controversies, we certainly don’t want it plagued with uncertainty or delay.

If you have followed what has been said about the reforms being brought in for the America’s Cup you would see that they boil down to three key things.

First off, we need continuity. That’s what independent management and good dispute-resolution procedures bring.

Secondly, sustainability is vital.

You might say that the Cup has survived on the basis of a handful of rich people for 159 years.

This might work for some teams, though many owners seek sponsorship these days and everyone wants to see returns that match the investments.

But it certainly doesn’t work for the event, which is much more dependent on commercial partnerships.

If I tell you that the 32nd America’s Cup in 2007 cost a quarter of billion dollars to stage, you’ll see why sustainability is imperative.

Thirdly, and crucially, we want more people turned-on by the America’s Cup…
… not just more sailors tuning in, but more non-sailors tuning in!

In my mind the most important part for the next AC is the TV.

While 2007 and 2010 saw some great footage, it wasn’t much different from what we saw in 2000 in regards to the technology.

I truly believe sailing can work as a televised sport.

And I offer these two examples in the sporting world:

NASCAR is the one of the most popular sports in the USA.

When you think about the concept, I’m sure there were a few questions asked about it in the early days…

a family sedan…
…albeit a little tricked-up from the showroom floor…
…racing round and round an  oval for 300 laps?

Now, if someone tried to sell you that as a potential TV concept, you would think they were crazy.

BUT NASCAR does a fantastic job of:

·         building- up the drivers
·         using graphics to make the cars stand out and look cool
·         supplying the commentators with data and stats
·         using audio from the drivers and their pit crews so that viewer can listen in to the strategies
Add in the graphics showing RPM, speed, etc. and it’s a very polished TV package that educates and captures viewers.

The other example I use is the Tour de France.

The basic concept of Tour de France is…

…men, dressed in skin tight Lycra…
…sitting on bikes for 5 hours a day…
…riding through the French countryside…
…for two weeks!

Put like that, it doesn’t sound like a winner for television.

But once again they do a great job of:

  • audio
  • heart rate monitors on the riders
  • RPM readouts
  • fantastic commentary educating the viewer on strategy and team tactics
  • marketing of the different people in the teams and their role
  • and a variety of camera angles from helicopters to capture the beauty of the course, to motorbikes weaving though the riders to give you the feeling of being in the peloton

I’m not into bike riding.

But, the Tour de France is one of my most favorite things to watch on TV because the viewer can understand what superb athletes the riders are and what the tactics are.

Once again, it’s a very polished TV package.

So, I’m confident the America’s Cup can be a successful TV product - PROVIDED we take a quantum leap forward.

On that note let’s get a flavor of the future:

Time for the video, thanks.

If the future’s sailing faster, thinking quicker, working harder, anticipating better…

…then it’s a challenge I’m really looking forward to.

And this is how I see the next America’s Cup:  seriously challenging sailing in seriously cool boats.

With real drama, on the water and off the water.

The best sailors and the fastest boats.

A question for you:

Which of these boats do you think kids would really want to have a go at sailing?

The monohull?

Or, the multihull?

I guess the more exciting boat wins!

I’m no longer a kid, but I want to tell you why I am relishing the next three years.

For a start there is the switch from monohulls to multihulls.

When the call was made in the last America’s Cup to go multihulls, I remember the initial reaction from some people was disappointment and frustration.

I was a little surprised myself…

… BUT very quickly after I thought about it, it turned to excitement!

What a fantastic opportunity to be exposed to a discipline of our sport that has always seemed out of reach.

Personally I always enjoy a challenge and going out of my comfort zone.

Plus to do it while going 40 knots whilst knowing the margin of error is small…it’s a bonus!

And you know what?

It can be done. Switching to multihulls is doable.

You only have to look at the record of the Origin guys or Alinghi’s helmsman Ed Baird and our own sailing team with guys like John Kostecki or Dirk de Ridder.

If you are good enough, you’re good enough.

It’s really that simple.

I’m not saying it doesn’t require hard work and application, because it does.

But show me a sailor who’s interested in learning new skills, expanding their experience or rising to a new challenge…

… and I’ll guarantee he or she is unafraid of change and will adapt.

For me though, the biggest change going to multihulls and extreme apparent wind sailing was learning how much to anticipate.

In a monohull, you get so used to looking at the jib and things happening slowly.

In a big, powerful multihull capable of tripling the wind speed, your reactions and skills are accelerated.

It’s all about being ahead of the cycle.

In a monohull, the tell tales might lift and you might be a degree off targets, but the inertia means the speed soaks off gradually.

In a 120-foot multihull, you can be flying a hull one moment and dropping it back into the water the next.

That doesn’t impress the crew much.

There’s simply no hiding the fact that you’re not sailing as well as you should be.

You have to react before each wind change and if you don’t react before the gust of wind hits, you are too late…

It’s a fun skill to learn.

I bet some of you here are already ahead of me, thinking…

            ‘alright, this guy’s converted to multihulls’,

            ‘Ok, fine, but he still has the experience of wingsails that few of his rivals have.’

‘This will be a nice little lead to have going into the next America’s Cup.’

Believe me when I say that this advantage is overrated.

Wings have been around for decades.

We’ve just been slow to catch up!

First, the wingsail’s speed comes from your design team and wing shapes have been around for a long, long time.

We would have won the America’s Cup without the wing.

The wingsail was a little bit faster than our soft sail package, but we would have got the job done with soft sails if needed.

The transition from soft sails to a wingsail rig is easier than you’d imagine.

And as you know, the smaller of the new America’s Cup classes, the AC45, will fast-track every team to the current state of the art next season.

So what does this tell us about the next America’s Cup?

Can monohull sailors switch to multihulls easily?

Of course they can. The good guys always adapt.

What I’m excited about for the next America’s Cup is going to be match racing multihulls.

Earlier this year we carried an intensive four days of testing and trialing in Valencia.

In some of the exercises, we deliberately put our Extreme 40 catamarans into really constrained spaces…

…such as a start box that was only six boat lengths wide and six boat lengths deep…

…or course boundaries that forced the boats to tack or gybe in quick succession.

The racing was awesome.

It brought you the close quarters racing you get in monohull racing, yet added the excitement and lead changing you get from the high speed multihulls.

Will the racing be different from monohull match racing?

Of course it will!

And what I am looking forward to most is the downwind legs.

This is because in a multihull you can pass so much more easily than a monohull.

And great racing needs overtaking and lead changes.

In monohull match racing and past America’s Cups, if you win the start or lead around the top mark there is only a 10-percent chance of the trailing boat passing.

Does that sound like good close racing to you?

Downwind in a multi, it will be much easier for the trailing boat, as it will always see if the leading boat has picked the right angle for jibes and the laylines.

The wrong angle in a multihull is very slow and you pay a huge VMG loss for missing a layline by a small margin.

In a monohull you get away with this, and this robs the boat behind of capitalizing on any mistake of the boat ahead, and ultimately doesn’t allow for passing.

No question about it: to have great racing you need passing opportunities.

But really there is one other big difference between monohulls and multihulls...and that is risk.

Monohulls don’t really look exciting unless they are powered up and in a lot of wind.

Even then, the only real risk is you could spin out or broach.

On a multihull that risk comes at a higher price. Instead of a spin-out or broach, you can capsize and have a real chance of ending your campaign.

This is not a race-winning move.

I think the smaller AC45s which teams will race in the first season will bring teams right to hard-core race mentality very quickly and that will translate into their AC72s.

Blazers and polo shirts belong to history.

Today’s fans will see athletes physically pushed to exhaustion.

I will close with a new initiative about which I am passionate: The Youth America’s Cup.

It’s a fantastic development.

Quite simply, there must be a pathway in place for young sailors to reach the front door of an America’s Cup team.

I know that I have been fortunate with my own career with none other than good luck.

It was through Yacht Club youth programs and youth match racing that I ended at an awards ceremony.

I got the Youth Award and the legendary Syd Fischer was also there receiving another award for his Ocean Racing.

I went up to him afterwards and I said: “Hey, I’d love to try Ocean Racing if that’s possible.”

That sort of kicked it all off.

It eventually led Syd to handing over his 2000 America’s Cup campaign to a bunch of us as the Young Australia campaign.

That was a great thing for Syd to have done.

Actually, for those of you who know Syd…

… you won’t be surprised that part of his thinking was to make sure he got his old 1995 boat to the start of the 2000 challenger series so that he didn’t forfeit his entry fee!

But it was a generous gesture.

Look around some of the America’s Cup and Volvo teams today, and you’ll see the Young Australia guys there.

Yet this sort of an opportunity is just so rare nowadays.

Owners now go straight to the top guys. They want the best experience they can hire. For good reason too!

Teams are created to win.

With Young Australia, the agenda was all about letting young guys learn the America’s Cup trade.

So it’s really difficult for a young person to figure out how to get into the game.

And one of my big frustrations is when a youth sailor asks me for advice about how they should plan to get into the America’s Cup...

…is that there is no obvious answer.

In the past, the match race circuit provided some sort of path…

…but nowadays there seems to be very few of people coming from the match race circuit with big boat experience or One-Design fleet racing World Championship boat speed skills.

Such skills are the building blocks of being a successful America’s Cup sailor.

So the Youth America’s Cup will create clear opportunities for young sailors that aren’t really there at the moment.

For today’s young sailors dreaming of being the next Russell Coutts we need to replace luck with a structured career path.

The Youth America’s Cup will convert Ambition Impossible into Ambition Achievable.

So to summarize, America’s Cup racing has to be:

  • high intensity
  • high entertainment
  • high athleticism
·         high pressure decision making

The America’s Cup can’t only be for the traditionalists, for the billionaires, for the designers, for the TV producers, for the sailors who have made a career out of it.

It has to be for the fans we have now and the new fans whose interest we have yet to earn.

We have to cherish the Cup’s heritage but not be a slave to it.

You have to respect its past but not be afraid of change.

Personally? What a fantastic time to be involved in the event.

It will be more challenging.

The boats will be way cooler.

It’s a test for those who embrace change, for those with curiosity and for those who simply want to become better all-round sailors.

It’s for people who like pushing themselves and going out of their comfort zone.

But…it’s not for the conservative, not for people who are afraid to fail, and it’s not for the armchair critics.

But then again, the America’s Cup never has been…

Thank you!

And enjoy the rest of the World Yacht Racing Forum.