Hard core sailing


Monday night, my sailing friends Brian and Malcolm and I went to the Seattle Yacht Club to hear a talk from the Alinghi syndicate -- the winners of the last America's Cup and defenders in 2007 in Valencia, Spain.

The presenters were Ed Baird and Hamish Ross. They were entertaining and brought very different perspectives on the America's Cup. Ed is helmsman aboard Alinghi and Hamish is general counsel and historian. They brought a good mix of stunning video and photos plus great stories from their time sailing and especially in the last America's Cup. Ed, in particular, has amazing stories. For instance, he was the helmsman aboard Young America when they snapped the boat in two. That doesn't happen every day...

The main thing I took away is that these guys are playing a different game than I play when I race. Like the difference between Tiger Woods' golf game and mine. The considerations, strategy, and teamwork are well beyond anything I could have imagined. For instance, apparently, the AC boats aren't very maneuverable. To get the boats to do the amazing ballet turns at the start requires a huge amount of coordination of the whole crew to get the sails, trim tab, rudder, and other sail/mast adjustments moving perfectly to turn the boat quickly. We can just throw the rudder over to turn fast (although it does work better with some coordination from the sails...)

We started toying with the idea of going to Valencia for the next America's Cup. There's probably a .0000001% chance of that really happening given that we all have kids, but it's fun to dream. Since SYC is not putting a boat in this time (OneWorld raced for SYC in the last AC), I may be rooting for Alinghi. I'd normally root for an American team, but the American team will likely be BMW Oracle Racing, and I just can't support anything Larry Ellison does (despite my affection for BMW).

Anyway, great talk and a great event. I felt like I do after watching a Warren Miller film. I'm all pumped about sailing and AC now and can't wait to get on the water.

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