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post #55 of Old 05-11-2013
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Re: Another America’s Cup entry destroyed

Originally Posted by PCP View Post
That's the reason AC staid in America for so long. I mean you could not make a boat strong enough to sail safely the Atlantic and able to compete with a much lighter and fragile boat designed only for racing inshore the AC in the US.


That's true -- and of course, as soon as the NYYC got their trophy home, they began poisoning the well so no one else could compete. First with the 'on your own bottom' rule, then changing the Deed to limit what constituted a 'legitimate Challenger', then designing Defenders so complex & expensive, few could afford to meet them on those terms. Sound familiar?

The J class yachts, which were somewhere between a One Design and a Box Rule, were a fine example of the type: originally a toy of the go-go Teens and Twenties, they continued to be the platform of choice even thru the darkest Depression -- which many industrialists coasted thru quite unscathed. Sticking to such monstrously expensive boats winnowed the field of potential challengers, especially from Europe where the Great Depression was so very much worse.

Amusing historical footnote: America was a purpose-built racer that needed substantial temporary bracing to cross the Atlantic in one piece; that bracing was removed for the famous regatta.

A good parallel might be professional baseball. Teams align themselves with cites or states and cultivate fan bases to underpin the brand. But really, the teams do not belong to the fans, or to the cities. They are the toys of extremely wealthy individuals or families: Wrigley, Bush, Busch, Selig, Anschutz.... And they don't just hire players from the local area. They shop for the best talent, anywhere in the world. European football, same way: Chelsea FC is the plaything of Roman Abramovitch, who owns roughly 800 linear feet of megayachts and his own Boeing 757. He fires managers three times a year and god help Larry if he ever turns his attention to sailboat racing.

So I guess the question is, when these egos -- this self-indulgence -- start killing people, when professional sailors desperate for a gig become grist for a billionaire's mill, do we call the owners out?

I dunno. Mr. Simpson was an Olympic Star medalist. He had no illusions about the sketchiness of Artemis, the potential for havoc. He had other choices in life, and he bought into the AC program. True, the owners keep pushing the limits of sailing tech waaaay ahead of what materials engineering or crew can really manage: "Let's build a 72-foot wingsail beach cat! Oh hell, let's built a 72-foot wingsail Moth!" And the choice of SFBay will come back to haunt them all. But while Simpson's death is an acute tragedy for those close to him, I'm strangely more bothered by the thousand garment workers pinned under a building in Bangladesh. Who had fewer choices. That's another example of people pushing limits ... including every one of us who want to find out just how cheaply a T-shirt can be made.

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Albin Ballad 30, Fionn
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