With the clock ticking down to tomorrow’s first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals, the big question is: How much has Luna Rossa Challenge improved since their last match-up with Emirates Team New Zealand during the Round Robin series.
To the casual observer, it would seem that LRC’s crew work improved steadily during the team’s recent sweep of the LVC Semi-Finals (over Artemis Racing), and their boat seemed to be foiling more consistently than previously seen. But that’s not to say the Kiwis haven’t been improving also. Although not officially confirmed, skipper Dean Barker claims his boat set a new team speed record the other day in practice.
In any case, tomorrow’s races (at 1:10 p.m. and 2:10 p.m.) should set the tone for the rest of this best-of-13 series. If the Kiwis clearly dominate, as they did in the early Round Robin races — with finish line separations of as much as seven minutes — the Italians may as well pack their bags (no pun intended). Except, of course, that with these boats, as with no others, the threat of catastrophic gear or structural failure is always a game-changing possibility. Although the Kiwis built two boats, our understanding is that their first is not a viable replacement, should anything happen to their principal warhorse. And the Italians only ever had the one boat, which is similar to the Kiwi’s first-generation effort.
Another wild card during Saturday and Sunday’s races may be light winds. One normally reliable source predicts only 6-12 knots along the Cityfront during the early afternoon — ironic, of course, after all the debate about top-end wind limits.
As always, there will be big-screen video projections with live commentary at both the AC Village (on the Marina Green) and at the AC Park (at Piers 27-29). You can also hear commentary on VHF 20, and when the boats sprint beyond your view you can follow their progress in animation via the free America’s Cup smartphone app. Taped-delayed broadcasts of this weekend’s races can be seen on NBC Sports Network from 3-6 p.m. both days. (Video coverage should also be available after those broadcasts on the AC YouTube channel.)
After more than seven years of being a fabulous member of Latitude 38‘s editorial team, LaDonna Bubak — not to be confused with Doña de Mallorca — is leaving Latitude at the end of the year to do what you’d expect: go cruising with her husband Rob on their Wauquiez 47 Gazelle. We are really going to miss her for so many reasons.
That means we’re actively searching for a passionate and productive in-house journalist to fill her shoes. The position involves writing, editing, proofreading, photography and layout — and being able to do three or more of them at once while under the pressure of an inflexible deadline. The material could be anything from local sailing features to racing to cruising — whatever it takes. And the job requires contributions to the three-days-a-week ‘Lectronic Latitude. If you’re looking for a super casual and cushy job, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a telecommuting position, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for a job in which you work 9 to 5, this isn’t it. But for the motivated journalist, it can be extremely rewarding.
Some things start small and seemingly innocuous, but grow big and nasty. Just ask the ghost of Richard Nixon about his early denials of having anything to do with the little burglary at Watergate. Or Anthony Weiner about his emphatic denials about having anything to do with photos of his junk being sexted to women. Or the San Francisco Fire Department, which ever so slowly and agonizingly confessed to having twice run over the young Chinese girl who survived the Asiana plane crash, thus besmirching their reputation.
We’d like this whole mess of Oracle Team USA having illegally modified their AC45s and the accusations of cheating to just go away so we can get on with the Louis Vuitton Finals, the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, the America’s Cup Finals and the Superyacht Regatta. But the mess and the accusations won’t go away. A big reason is that Oracle’s Russell Coutts, unfortunately, sounds as prevaricating as Nixon, Weiner and SFFD.
In today’s Chronicle, Tom Fitzgerald asked Coutts why Oracle Team USA employees would take it upon themselves to break the rules, if the payoff was insignificant and the risk of punishment so great?
"That’s a really good question," Coutts responded.
As Coutts is the honcho of the OTUSA America’s Cup effort, does anyone believe that he doesn’t know exactly what was done to the AC45s, who did it, and why?
"We don’t know the facts," Coutts went on to say, causing the Bullshit Detector app on our iPhone to red-line and the phone to catch fire in our hand.
Excuse us, Mr. I Think Everybody Else in the World Is a Brain Dead Moron, but do you really think anybody believes your responses? Or that they don’t make you look like a complete idiot? But maybe that’s why you have been reported to get paid more than $1 million a month.
Coutts told Fitzgerald that he had "a fair idea" who might have been responsible for the illegal modifications, but couldn’t identify them because of state employee-confidentiality rules.
A friend ran that statement through the Bullshit Detector on his Android phone, and the less expensive smartphone simply vaporized. One of the best ruses politicians use to explain why they can’t give you an explanation for a simple — but devastating question — is that it breaks some phony confidentiality rule and/or gag order.
We still can’t get our head wrapped around this whole mystery/scandal, as no explanation seems to make much sense at all, but we do know that the longer OTUSA pussyfoots around in giving a believable explanation, the worse they look and the more suspicions grow. As they say when you’re caught flagrantly breaking a rule during a race, if you gotta eat shit, you may as well take big bites.