Blame It on Corporation Law and/or the America's Cup Deed of Gift

January 31 - San Francisco

For the last six months, everyone - ourselves included - assumed that the negotiations between Oracle Racing and the St. Francis YC of San Francisco would result in Oracle competing for the 2003 America's Cup under the burgee of the St. Francis YC. After all, Oracle's Larry Ellison races his maxi 'Sayonara' for the St. Francis, and many of the key players in Oracle Racing have deep roots with the club. Nonetheless, Oracle Racing and the St. Francis announced on Saturday that they would be unable to reach an agreement because "the St. Francis YC could not satisfy Oracle Racing's requirements."

What the heck, we wondered, was it that Larry Ellison wanted from the St. Francis YC that they were unable or unwilling to give? Money is always a prime suspect in break ups, but as Ellison is the second richest man in the world, that surely couldn't be the case. And wasn't. Indeed, when Ellison first met with the club, he told them, "I don't want your money, I want your support." Well, perhaps Ellison wanted a permanent slip for his 192-foot motoryacht 'Izinami' in front of the club so that he wouldn't have to drive all the way from Sausalito. Naw, that couldn't be it, either.

Before we go any further, we'll let you in on the surprise ending. Ellison still plans on winning the America's Cup. He still plans on defending it on San Francisco Bay. But the way things look right now, he may have to do it under the burgee of a Southern California yacht club!

During a telephone conversation this morning with St. Francis YC Commodore Steve Taft, we were told that the negotiations between Oracle Racing and the St. Francis YC - which were always "most amicable" - broke down over the issue of control of the America's Cup effort. "Ellison wanted the St. Francis to amend its articles of incorporation and by-laws so that he could put three of his people on the board of directors. But since the St. Francis is a California corporation, the law requires they be elected. So the club couldn't legally comply with Oracle Racing's request even if we wanted to. Other possible solutions were explored, such as appointing three directors that would only have control over the America's Cup effort, or somehow being able to guarantee the results of an election of a slate of board members. But after checking with our lawyers, we found that we couldn't legally do any of these things."

If the America's Cup Deed of Gift stated that the competition was between individuals, Ellison would surely compete while flying the St. Francis burgee. But the deed states that the competition is between yacht clubs, which means they - rather than individuals such as Ellison - control the event. As such, it's possible that Ellison could put up $80 million to win the 2003 Cup for the St. Francis - and then have the club's board of directors at that time decide to hold trials for a defender for the next cup. As such, it's possible that Ellison could win the cup for the St. Francis and then not be able to defend it for them. This is a possibility that Ellison - who is accustomed to usually getting his way - apparently would prefer not entertaining. And who can blame him?

So the bottom line is this: No matter how good the friendships are between the members of the St. Francis YC and Oracle Racing, the St. Francis is legally prohibited from giving Oracle Racing the control Ellison feels he needs. Thus the inability to come to terms.

What now? Oracle Racing is apparently approaching the California YC of Marina del Rey, which unlike most yacht clubs in California, is a private club. In fact, it's owned by the Hathaway family, which owns golf courses and other clubs. Because it is a private club, it's possible that the California YC can give Ellison the control of the America's Cup effort that he requires. Ellison could, of course, buy just about any private yacht club he wanted and thereby control his America's Cup effort. In any event, Oracle Racing has told Taft that no matter what happens, they are committed to bringing the America's Cup to San Francisco Bay.

The Race: A Month Already, Time to Take Stock at the Halfway Mark!

by Pierrick Garenne
Translation by David Palmer/SeaSpeak

January 31 - Southern Ocean

It was exactly one month ago today that The Race started in Barcelona for a no-limits dash round the world. On January 31, 2001, at 1900 GMT, 'Club Med' had exactly 12,579.6 miles left to go to the finish in Marseilles. By yesterday evening the leading boat had covered 13,796.15 miles at an average speed of 19.00 knots. That is an exceptionally high speed and exceeds the speed expected on paper which stood at 17.00 knots yesterday... So it's time to take stock of performance, technical aspects, medical aspects, weather and general day-to-day matters whilst 'Club Med' continues on her way towards New Zealand and had at 1100 GMT today a 726.6 mile lead over 'Innovation Explorer'. Both boats have been sailing at the same average speeds over the last 24 hours, or 24.4 knots for the first and 24.9 knots for the second.

Performance-wise... The two leading catamarans have shown their extraordinary potential by lining up several days in the Southern Ocean of more than 500 miles. The speedos have been nudging instantaneous speeds in excess of 30 knots, and 'Team Adventure' has recorded several peaks of over 40 knots in steady 36 knot winds. The best days were recorded in the Southern Ocean for 'Club Med' (600 miles on 1/25 at 25.02 knots), 'Innovation Explorer' (604.47 miles on 1/30 at 25.19 knots) and 'Warta-Polpharma' (506.80 miles on 1/26 at 21.12 knots). For 'Team Adventure' it was along the Brazilian coast in the southeasterly Trade Winds (617.44 miles on 1/17 at 25.73 knots). For 'Team Legato', it was in the Northern Hemisphere, or in the northeasterly Trade Winds (429 miles on 1/13 at 17.87 knots). So it is 'Team Adventure' that currently holds the record for the greatest distance covered in 24 hours in The Race: or 617.44 miles at an average speed of 25.73 knots. That is very close to the mythical outright record for the distance sailed in 24 hours, just 8 miles or 14.8 km short of it... But the race is far from over yet!

The Cape to Cape reference time has been beaten twice in two days during The Race. The theoretical distance between the Cape of Good Hope (18°30' East) and Cape Leeuwin (115°10' East) is 4,546 miles (distance calculated between their respective longitudes along a great circle route, or the arc of a circle that wraps round the Earth's surface). This distance is shortest at 40° latitude. If we were to provide a concrete example, the distance between these two capes is equivalent to a Route du Rhum, or an Atlantic crossing between St Malo (France) and Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadaloupe). It was 'Club Med' that was the first to beat the reference time held by Olivier de Kersauson on 'Sport-Elec', which he set on his successful bid for the Jules Verne Trophy (8 days and 23 hours). 'Club Med' cut the longitude of Cape Leeuwin on January 28 at 0400 GMT taking just 7 days and 18 hours to join the two capes. Two days later, on January 30, 'Innovation Explorer' beat this new reference time. She sailed further south meaning that the distance sailed between the two longitudes was shorter (4,000 miles to 3,997 miles). She took exactly four hours less than 'Club Med' or 7 days, 14 hours and 10 minutes. Her average speed was 21.97 miles.

Breakages? "No structural problems but rather peripheral problems," analyzed Denis Horeau, The Race director. "The breakage situation is satisfactory after one month into the race and more than 12,000 sea miles, even more so when you consider that some of the boats were launched just a month before the start." What can we note in practical terms? A problem with delamination of the central beam fairing repaired during a forced pit-stop in Cape Town for 'Team Adventure', problems with the hinges of life raft compartments breaking ('Club Med' and 'Innovation Explorer'), breakage of the Plexiglas windows of the cockpit companionway cuddy ('Club Med' and 'Innovation Explorer') and numerous padeyes. Also to be noted, more or less significant sail wear ('PlayStation' and 'Innovation Explorer'). 'PlayStation' pulled out of the race because of damage to a daggerboard and the mainsail, on the morning of Sunday, January 14.

How are they doing physically? After a month of racing there have been a number of medical incidents on each boat. These have been essentially injuries following falls or knocks. Bruising to the face, cuts and traumas of the joints, to the hands and skin infections ... All of them problems well known to ocean racers. But the most serious incident concerned 'Team Adventure'. In a very violent impact with a wave, Michael Lundh who was working on deck fell over backwards. Very shaken, he complained of an acute pain in the neck which necessitated immobilizing it immediately with a neck brace. Jeffrey Wargo, who at the same time was standing up in the cabin, was brutally thrown forwards against a bulkhead. He lost consciousness and suffered severe pain in the small of his back, his condition was also considered to be preoccupying. The two medical referents on board, Jacques Vincent and Frédéric Carrère, did a magnificent medical assistance job as far as their stopover in Cape Town. And last but not least, an ailment that the organism has had to cope with: fatigue. Damp, brutal motion, dreadful noise, stress and the de-phasing of biorhythms, all these elements combine to alter the quality of sleep. "But for the time being it seems to be going quite well," analyzed Dr. Jean-Yves Chauve. "But they must however remain very attentive. On these extreme machines the slightest slackening of attention can be very quickly sanctioned. So take care!"

Broken Plexiglas on Club Med
Photo Courtesy
Club Med

Aboard Innovation Explorer
Photo Courtesy
Innovation Explorer

Fred Dahirel and Vyachesal Sysenko work the cockpit on Team Legato
Photo Courtesy
Team Legato

Weather analysis: "None of the maxi-catamarans have made any strategic errors," noted Gilles Chiorri of Météo Consult. If we were to qualify the routes of the three catamarans, one could say that 'Club Med' has been showing her mastery of sailing in a fleet (like the Whitbread) with straight courses seeking to keep the adversary covered. 'Innovation Explorer', conscious of her speed handicap due to her lack of foresails, has been forced to play the strategy game differently. And finally 'Team Adventure', the gambler, made the most of the Atlantic to try out some daring options. Navigation in the Southern Ocean is very different requiring the boats to follow and anticipate weather patterns, which is quite possible with the speed potential of these boats. Only the passage through the Cook Straits might shuffle the pack 'meteorologically' speaking!

Where were they today at 1100 GMT? 'Club Med' was 775 miles from the entrance to the Cook Straits: two short days sailing unless 'Club Med' falls into the expected anticyclone that could block the approaches to the New Zealand coast. 'Innovation Explorer' was following 726.6 miles behind. 'Team Adventure' is in tricky headwinds forcing them to struggle along at 13 knots average while 'Warta Polpharma' was heading northeast at 20 knots. 'Team Legato' was 'flashed' at 26 knots instantaneous speed.

Ranking of 31 Jan 2001 19:00:00 GMT

1. Club Med / dtf 11,995.3 miles
2. Innovation Explorer / dtl 762.8 miles
3. Team Adventure / dtl 4,245.2 miles
4. Warta Polpharma / dtl 4,827.8 miles
5. Team Legato / dtl 6,180.2 miles

See for situation and analysis updates every four hours.


January 31 - The Pacific Ocean and Cyberspace

Who is out making passages in the Pacific and what kind of weather are they having? Check out YOTREPS - 'yacht reports' - at

Weather Updates

January 31 - Pacific Ocean

San Francisco Bay Weather

To see what the winds are like on the Bay and just outside the Gate right now, check out

California Coast Weather

Looking for current as well as recent wind and sea readings from 17 buoys and stations between Pt. Arena and the Mexican border? Here's the place - which has further links to weather buoys and stations all over the U.S.:

Pacific Ocean Weather

Today's University of Hawaii Department of Meteorology satellite was not available again this morning. You can try it yourself at

Pacific Sea State

Check out the Pacific Ocean sea states at:
For another view, see

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