Saturday, January 30, 2021

Well, That Was Embarrassing

The America’s Cup is so named because this nation won it the first time it was sailed in 1851. America won it continuously for 116 years, and at least participated in it until 2000. After failing to make it into the race for the next ten years, America returned in 2010, winning 2 of the next three cups, so the overall record is by no means bad.

This year has been beyond embarrassing. The American boat has been one of three competing for the right to challenge New Zealand for the next America’s Cup, and was disqualified yesterday after sailing in nine matches, losing all nine and forfeiting one.

One loss was what a non-sailor might consider close, 30 seconds in a race that took 26 minutes to complete (to a sailor, 30 seconds is not even hand grenade distance), but the rest have all been by two minutes or more. This would compare to a stock car losing at Daytona by 20 laps or more purely because it is slow and/or was poorly driven.

There was one conversation with the American skipper which pretty much summed up for me why the boat’s performance was so sub-par. In discussing why he lost the start of the race he said that the opponent, “got his timing right, so we were not able to execute Plan A.” The commenter asked how he could have executed his plan and he repeated himself. “If he gets his timing right, you don’t.”

If your plan depends on your opponent making a mistake, it is a bad plan. It is a plan that you should not be using. It is a plan that pretty much assures that you will lose. If I had been using such a mind-numbingly stupid plan I most certainly would not admit it on television. It’s like asking Dale Earnhardt how he plans to beat Bill Elliott in the upcoming race and hearing him reply that, “I plan to drive carefully and hope that he hits the wall.”

The commentator, of course, either did not pick up on the stupidity of “Plan A” or decided to ignore it, and moved on to other things. He was too busy, in any case, conducting a pity party and making excuses for the American boat.

The Americans, he lamented, had been forced to spend the downtime repairing their boat’s damage incurred when it capsized, while the Italians were able to spend that time improving their boat. Well, boo hoo. If the Americans hadn’t capsized their boat they would not have had to be doing repairs and could have been making improvements just like the Italians.

The commentator even went so far as to lament that he felt sorry for the Americans and that it was “..all so unfair. It’s just unfair.” Oh, get over it. It wasn’t an act of bad sportsmanship by the Italians that capsized the American boat. It wasn’t some freak fluke of nature. It wasn’t some arbitrary inequitable act by the officials. It was pure bad seamanship by the American captain and crew that capsized the boat.

There was nothing even remotely unfair about their plight; their hardship was entirely self inflicted. They’re lucky they only had to forfeit one race.


  1. Luna Rossa was a strong boat, unhampered by the accident two weeks ago that hampered the American boat and prevented much needed sea time.

  2. The America's were about as prepared as Villeneuve was after the French fleet having been blockaded in port before the battle @ Trafalgar.

  3. @Joe Conservative: Luna Rossa was beaten four times and won zero against the British boat.

  4. All I'm saying is that time spent in drydock doesn't lend itself to attaining optimal crew proficiency.

  5. And ime spent losing races is particulaly invaluable.

  6. Think the Americans learned anything for the future (like having multiple backup boats)?

  7. Because I don't think that boat design ws the problem.... The class features a unique combination of sailing systems for a monohull such as hydrofoils mounted on port and starboard topside longitudinal drums, a double-skinned mainsail and no keel.[1] Speeds of 50 knots have been claimed based on computer simulations.[2] Notable high speeds actually recorded on the water have been:

    49.1 knots by Te Rehutai on December 17, 2020.[3]
    50.25 knots by Britannia during day 4 of the Prada Cup January 23, 2021.
    53.31 knots by Patriot (American Magic) during day 1 of the Prada Cup Semifinals January 29, 2021.

  8. Luna Rossa is now the official challenger