Jobson: Final Thoughts

Stuart Streuli

So the America's Cup is on its way to Europe. Immediately after crossing the finish line, the Société Nautique de Genève announced that the Golden Gate Yacht Club, based in San Franciso, would be the Challenger of Record for the next match in 2007. The Golden Gate Challenge was backed by Oracle CEO, Larry Ellison. He will now lead a potentially large group of challengers who hope to take the cup away from Switzerland. The trophy will travel to this land-locked country, but the races will take place elsewhere. The America's Cup will likely have a very different look the next time. The victorious Alinghi syndicate head, Ernesto Bertarelli, hopes to announce the venue for the next cup as early as July 2003. The likely venues include Lisbon, Portugal, on the Atlantic coast, Palma de Mallorca, Spain, the Marseilles region of France or Naples, Italy. One thing is clear, based on the experience here in Auckland, more reliable winds will be needed. It took 16 days to sail 5 races. Over the next few months, Team New Zealand, and many people in this country, will be trying to figure out what went wrong. You never really know how boats are going to match up out on the water. In light winds, Team New Zealand seemed to have a slight advantage, but as the wind increased, Alinghi proved to be superior both upwind and downwind. TNZ broke down in two of the five races and was unable to finish. The sailing team lost every start and was only in control once on three legs of race 2. But even then, a major tactical blunder on the final leg allowed Alinghi to steal the race. It will be fascinating to see if New Zealand mounts another campaign in the near future. Even before this match was over, there were harsh editorials in the New Zealand press. One thing that needs to change in the future is an international, independent race committee. The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron took a lot of criticism for not starting races, even though the conditions were suitable. The America's Cup uses international umpires and measurers and now needs an unbiased race committee. Alinghi's performance was impressive. The team only lost three races throughout the long Louis Vuitton Cup and the America's Cup. Skipper Russell Coutts and his extremely talented crew, was a cut above the competition. They will be very hard to beat. Who would have guessed that 3 years ago, a newcomer from Switzerland, would be able to win on his first try. The America's Cup in Europe, for the first time in 152 years, potentially gives this event a breath of fresh air.