Will Larry Ellison be able to win the America's Cup?

bmw oracle & America Goletta

The boat that will return the America’s Cup home? – BMW Oracle’s BOR 90 seen here with a replica of the 1851 cup winner, the schooner America, after her introduction to the press last month in San Diego, where her sea trials have begun in earnest.

Of course the man behind BOR90 is none other than Oracle’s Larry Ellison and in 2010 he is determined to bring the America’s Cup home. We say home because ever since 1851 the cup has only been out of the United States for no more than 8 years – The New York Yacht Club held the trophy continously from 1851 to 1983 when it was lost for the first time ever to those upstart Aussies from the Royal Perth Yacht Club.

The Americans were so affronted by the loss of the trophy that the San Diego Yacht Club retrieved the trophy in 1987 with their challenger Stars & Stripes –  they then held it until the Kiwis, in the shape of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, trashed them 5-0 in 1995 when the racing was held off San Diego.
In 2003, off Auckland, New Zealand, it was the turn of that great sea faring nation –  Switzerland – and Societe Nautique de Geneve with their boat Alinghi to prevail.

Now this presented a problem as the rules of the America’s Cup state that racing must be held off  the coast of the winning boat’s hull – being land locked Switzerland didn’t have a coast! Eventually the problem was solved and the Swiss defended the trophy against the challenge of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron off  the coast of Valencia in Spain.

Alinghi now faces the Golden Gate Yacht Club’s challenge in the form of BMW Oracle’s BOR90 – which is to be renamed USA after continuing sea trials off San Diego. The 33rd America’s Cup will be held in Ras Al Khaimah in the United Arab Emirates in February 2010 much to the chagrin of Ellison.

Ellison has already challenged the safety of Persian Gulf location but we wonder whether his annoyance may have more to do with the probability of light winds at that time of the year. The light winds are thought to favour Alinghi more than BOR90(USA).

Alinghi has also just started sea trials in the Mediterranean off Genoa and well informed sources have suggested she was making 27 knots of speed with a wind speed of only 9 knots – WOW – fair dinkum as the Aussies would say. No wonder the Swiss do not want too much wind and we look forward to seeing whether Larry can take the Cup home.

This is without doubt an extreme sport – extreme at least in the sense that you have to be a billionaire – or have the backing of a billionaire – to finance a team. Great because we all get to witness some epic battles by the state of the art equipment available as can be seen on this video from davidcasadopons which shows these magnificent boats in action at the 32nd America’s Cup held in Valencia.

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