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Don’t Touch That Dial

As we know, beyond exceptional success with Oracle, Larry Ellison has also conquered many aspects of sailing since he started in a Lido 14 at Cal Sailing Club in Berkeley in the 1970s. After decades of sailing — including the infamous 1999 Sydney Hobart aboard Sayonara (described in the book The Proving Ground), and winning two America’s Cups before losing in 2017 in Bermuda — Mr. Ellison is back with a whole new concept spun off from the Bermuda America’s Cup.

We think.

What do you do with ‘old’ America’s Cup boats? The Bermuda AC45s look to keep you entertained.

© 2018 Ricardo Pinto / ACEA

While rumors about the "Larry Cup" have been floating around for almost a year, the word on the street is that there’ll be an official announcement made on October 3 in London, where Ellison and crew are expected to reveal yet another new grand prix racing circuit using, surprise, foiling catamarans. The boats will be the same AC45 foiling cats used in Bermuda, but reportedly modified to be completely one-design. We understand there will be an international tour, multiple teams, fleet racing and more helmeted foil jockeys and burly grinders pumping oil to entertain viewers.

One of Ellison’s primary ambitions in winning the Cup was to create a financially sustainable pro sailing league that would attract the masses. The last two versions were financially sustainable, so long as they had the backing of one of the world’s richest billionaires. But continuing pursuit of the concept was foiled by the Kiwis. We’re not sure if this latest league attempt has a business plan that aims to succeed beyond the financial support of the uber wealthy, or if the world has room on the infinite-channel dial to carve out an audience for another entertainment option, but, either way, the attempt is being made.

The hope is you’ll flip over to this new sailing channel. 

© 2018 Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA

We know the boats will be fast and exciting. The technology will all be the same between boats, so much of the advancement may be how the pit crews keep these speedsters together through an annual, multi-city series. Think San Francisco Bay will be one of the venues? Doubtful*.

When we wrote about the possibility of this coming to fruition a year ago, we had many readers who were excited to see the Larry Cup emerge, as well as some doubters. One thing’s for sure: Larry Ellison hasn’t lost his desire to stir things up and doesn’t seem ready to go off into the sunset cruising. And, of course, he has the means to give anything a try. Is this latest splinter group the reason there are only three challenges for the Kiwi Cup?

There are numerous grand prix events to follow. Last year, Macif and François Gabart’s record circumnavigation were a hot ticket.

© 2018 Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI/Macif

What are your other viewing options? Of course, the America’s Cup. The Extreme Sailing Series will be in San Diego Oct 18-21. The Golden Globe is underway now. The Volvo Ocean race and Clipper Race just finished. On November 4, the Route du Rhum will have six 100-ft ‘Ultime’ trimarans, an IMOCA class, and over 50 Class 40 racers on the line. Don’t forget that the Berkeley Midwinters are coming up. Then there’s baseball, football, basketball, etc. It’s hard to keep up.

What do you follow?

*Surprise – at least to us. Since we posted this Bernie Wilson of the AP has written that San Francisco is scheduled to be on the 5-city 2019 tour. Fast and exciting foiling on the Bay again!

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Once again the Grand Poobah of the Baja Ha-Ha is strongly urging people not to buy boats that have current Temporary Import Permits (TIPs) for Mexico, and/or didn’t properly clear out of Mexico.