And convince your parents to watch your two kids (2 and 4) for a week; and convince your wife to travel for an obscure, expensive, exclusive sailing race typically followed by people who spend Thursday arguing about which of their vacation homes to visit this weekend; admittedly the desirability of Bermuda helped my sales pitch a tad. Overall, the trip couldn’t have gone better.
Side note: I am so fascinated by these boats, I plan to write up a more technical post on them in the near future. Coming soon to a Kinja near you...
Since watching the America’s Cup 72' foiling catamarans ripping around San Fransisco Bay in 2013 (on TV... well, youtube), I said “if the next series comes anywhere near us, we’re going.” This past week, we went to Bermuda to see the current iteration, ~50' catamarans with ~75' tall masts, riding on hydrofoils so perfectly now that the hulls hardly touch the water during a race - in fact, not at all in a few races. And three months ago I bought tickets to be on a spectator boat for ONE day only, not knowing what to really expect from the whole event. That morning the wind is pushing the upper limits of what these boats can safely sail in, but we head out anyway; it’s rough water even for the inner sound of Bermuda, and our 50' spectator boat is getting tossed and pushed around in the stiff breeze gusting to 30mph.
The four teams scheduled to race that day find that the conditions literally rip their boats apart; not structurally, but pieces are being torn off by the sheer force of hitting the water at 40 or 50 miles an hour in the sailing version of an F1 car, mostly carbon fiber and all powered by hydraulics. One team can’t keep up enough hydraulic pressure (all generated by hand cranking, or in one case, pedaling with their legs) to maneuver the boat in the way they need to because they need 100% from everything, all the time - no lulls at all - and the guys simply can’t keep up.
Team New Zealand gets boxed out at a start (I give credit to the British team that maneuvered them into a tight spot), and in an effort to accelerate quickly, get too high on their foils, pop their rudder out of the water and lose the stablizing effect of the wing on the bottom of that rudder, ultimately causing a forward dive and subsequent crash called a pitch-pole. Basically a very expensive (and dangerous) face plant for a multimillion dollar race boat. Their competitor in that race, driven by none other than the most decorated Olympic sailor of all-time Sir Ben Ainslie, said of the racing that day, it was “...the most exciting, exhilarating day of sailing I’ve ever been involved in...” and I couldn’t have been happier to see this in person from right beside the course.
In fact, there was a broadcast of the race on our boat, but with the delay there were a few of us who watched the capsize happen and yelled out a full ten seconds before it was announced out loud on the broadcast.
The (kinja allowing) included video was the America’s Cup daily highlights compliation from that exact day, and it is aptly titled “Epic Day On The Water.”
Now, for the die-hard sailing fans named Thurston Nantucket Veuve Clicquot Wellington IV, this new generation of America’s Cup boats simply lacks the traditional grace of a proper, single-hulled boat with, you know, actual sails instead of a wing, manned by a crew of salty, strapping young men all at the top of their game in the sailing world, racing each other out on the open water. The guys running the hydraulic pump systems on these boats don’t need any knowledge of sailing to be good at their jobs. Match racing in a small course (“stadium racing”) is for “dinghys,” not for a spectacle so grand as the storied America’s Cup - or so Thurston would say. But boats of this new class are amazing to watch - even if you’re not a sailor - and they’ve definitely taken sailing as a sport to a whole new *more marketable* level. If they want to appeal to the RedBull GoPro generation, this is the right direction.
Yeah, the Volvo Ocean Race is pretty extreme in a different way, but it’s an even worse spectator sport, by nature of where it takes place. Sure, they come into a city and do harbor races, but how often does it come to a city near you? At best, every few years. TV coverage? LOL. The America’s Cup is at least on NBCSN and/or the web, depending on your location and/or your technological trickery. However, today marks the start of the RedBull Youth America’s Cup in another variation of foiling catamaran, but with more manual controls - which looks like an amazing series to watch just on its own merits, while we wait for the finals of the regular Cup series. So, sorry Mr. Wellington IV, I’m a fan of the new format, and I hope it sticks around. And everyone I talked to this past week feels more or less the same way, including a woman we made friends with named “Kitty.” You can’t make this stuff up. She was really nice though.
Forgive my crappy phone pics, I didn’t feel like hauling a proper camera out there. There are about a billion great pictures on the interwebz if you’re so inclined.
As a (car-related) bonus, we saw lots of interesting (to me) cars, simply because non-US market. Diesel Land Cruiser pickups, tiny city cars, E36 wagons (I’ve never seen one before) and one E30 wagon, along with lots of other stuff. I only got pictures of a few, I’ll share them another time because Kinja doesn’t like me right now.