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One Is the Loneliest Number

"Ah, Your Majesty, there is no second," is supposedly the response given to Queen Victoria on August 22, 1851, when the schooner America beat 15 other yachts around the Isle of Wight to claim the first America’s Cup. The Queen, who was also the Empress of India, had wanted to know who finished second.

"Ah dude, there is no second boat," was the proper response to why there was no other boat on the course yesterday when Emirates Team New Zealand’s Aotearoa went around the 16-mile course unopposed in first race of the Louis Vuitton Series to see who will face Oracle for the America’s Cup. That there wasn’t another AC72 for the Kiwis to race against is somehow fitting for this most chaotic of America’s Cups ever.

The Italian Luna Rossa team had their AC72 ready to race, but decided to "boycott" the first race. They said they wanted to await the international jury’s decision on their protest against allowing deeper rudders and larger elevators. That protest is to be held today. Ironically, the Kiwis that the Italians were to race against are against the new elevator rules, too, so the Kiwis and Italians would have both been competing in boats that complied with the original rule.

We’re trying to wrap our heads around the concept of spending $50-100 million to compete in an event and then boycott the first race. Or the idea of something like the heavyweight championship of the world fight in which there was only one boxer. Watch out for that sucker punch.

Although the Louis Vuitton Series in the so-called ‘Summer of Sailing’ is now on, don’t expect for there to be racing anytime soon. The next race, slated fo Tuesday, is supposed to feature Artemis, but the Swedish team’s boat isn’t ready to race yet. The third Louis Vuitton race later this week is also supposed to feature Artemis, so that’s going to be a bust, too. Combine this with the fact that it was too windy for the AC72s to participate in the America’s Cup 4th of July parade, and the 34th America’s Cup is falling far short of everyone’s dreams and expectations.

As we understand, the protesting Kiwis and Italians have said they will abide by the decision of the International Jury regarding the new rules regarding elevators, so eventually there may actually be some racing. But we wouldn’t hold our breath because this is, after all, the 34th America’s Cup, such as it is.

For the record, the unopposed Kiwis completed the 16-nautical-mile course in 46 minutes and 27 seconds. That’s an average speed of 20.7 knots, which is faster than either of the 90-ft waterline multihulls did in the last America’s Cup. Aotearoa hit a max speed of 42.8 knots. The wind was blowing 14 to 16 knots with a flood, which was considered to be ideal conditions.

When the AC72s are going full tilt on foils across San Francisco Bay, it’s a beautiful sight. But let’s face it, this 34th America’s Cup hasn’t been very pretty. It’s going to take some really spectacular racing for folks to forget what’s transpired so far.

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Hayden Brown designed and built Aldebaran, starting her in 1971. Aldebaran
© Latitude 38 Media, LLC Local sailors will be familiar with the sight of the beautiful 70-ft ‘pirate ship’ Aldebaran plying the waters of San Francisco Bay — she won last year’s Great San Francisco Schooner Race and is the official pirate boat of the Vallejo Pirate Festival — but the merry 4th of July fireworks cruise aboard the schooner came to a tragic end when she ran up on the Richmond Jetty.
And then there was one. Five Mini 6.50s were set to race to Hawaii from Marina del Rey in the inaugural Mini 650 Pacific Challenge on Saturday but shortly before the start, two — Charlie Calkins on C’s Folly and Luiz Eduardo on ARG 842 — failed to qualify while Przemyslaw Karwasiecki on Libra bowed out just after the start.
The schooner Niña in New Zealand prior to setting sail for Australia. © Steve Darden "My wife Dorothy and I are optimists," Steve Darden told Latitude in a telephone interview.