June 20, 2017
This past February, I caught the America’s Cup bug.
Avid sailors, myself included, attended a presentation at the RCYC in Toronto. The Cup was there for all to admire, along with Norbert Bajurin, Commodore of the Golden Gate YC, the current holder of the Cup.
The presenter recommended that anyone interested in the Cup read “The Billionaire and the Mechanic”, a detailed story of how Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, and Norbert Bajurin, a radiator mechanic, teamed up to win the Cup.
I could hardly put the book down. The excitement had started.
Now Larry and Norbert are defending the Cup for the third time.
My wife and I decided to go and watch the Challenger Play Offs racing in person, where teams advance or are eliminated from the competition to determine who will challenge Oracle for the Cup.
Airfare, hotel and spectator boats were booked, and the excitement increased.
Thursday at Pearson, we met several people also going to watch. The plane was abuzz with talk and stories, as was the immigration line at Bermuda customs.
After checking into the hotel, we headed for the America’s Cup Village. Racing was underway between GBR and New Zealand, and Japan and Sweden. The Grandstand, Goslings and Longtail Lounge were all full, the seawall was crowded six people deep, the public area with large screen TV’s was packed.
The Kiwis were everywhere, cheering and waving their flags throughout the races, and the level of enthusiasm went through the roof when New Zealand beat GBR in the final race.
Sweden beat Japan to great cheers from an untold number of nationalities.
Saturday, the start of the finals between New Zealand and Sweden, we went out on the spectator boat and anchored at the windward gate. While the boats were at the leeward end of the course, an on-board large screen TV with running commentary kept everyone up to date with what was happening.
Most exciting were the port / starboard crosses as the boats worked their way to the top – several crosses were with less than 70’ to spare on 50’ catamarans closing at over 40 knots!
The boat crews were also excited – crew head shots with their heartbeat rate were on the TV before, during and after the crosses. Normal, redline, slowly back to normal!
The Royal Bermuda YC was good enough to extend reciprocal privileges to us for evening cocktails and sunset view. Perfect.
Sunday, we were back on the spectator boat for more action.
Monday, we went back to the Village, and as it was raining, we got a front row table with umbrella at the Moet and Chandon Champagne booth. Several glasses later, we were cheering as loudly as the Kiwis when they beat out Sweden!
That evening in Hamilton, Kiwis were on the streets, in the restaurants and bars, all wearing their Team New Zealand shirts, flags in hand. They had been rewarded for making the long trip to Bermuda, and their dream to win the Cup is now in sight.
Enthusiasm is contagious!
We might be provided the perfect excuse to go to New Zealand in four years!
But Oracle may have something to say about that …
– John Farquharson