At portrix, we share a passion for sports and being from Hamburg, sailing of course has a top spot on our list. I have been following the America’s Cup roughly from 2007 when Team Oracle and Larry Ellison showed great spirit and commitment to winning this cup but were defeated early in the qualifying races.
In 2010, we set the race broadcast up in our meeting room and were blown away by the power, speed and precision of the winged trimaran USA-17. But the races itself were rather boring and could not live up to our expectations. The starts were postponed again and again due to changes in wind conditions and once the boats were underway, there were only few maneuvers and certainly no close racing. The trimaran was much faster and sailed much smoother than Alinghi’s catamaran, so spectators were left with beautiful pictures of a race that was dominated by Team Oracle.
After winning the old mug, it was up to the Golden Gate Yacht Club and Larry Ellison to come up with new rules and a new concept for America’s Cup sailing to bring the excitement back. The next cup will take place in 2013 in San Francisco on 72-foot wing-sailed catamarans and the challenger will be determined in the Louis Vuitton Cup. Until then nine teams are touring around the world in what is called the America’s Cup World Series, racing with winged 45-feet catamarans to get accustomed to a new style of racing
Fortunately, Knud and I had the chance to visit the first stop of the brand new America’s Cup World Series so we could see and experience all of these changes ourselves. First of all, the boats may look like small versions of the trimaran but they are still huge and the wings make them look very unique. I was already able to spot the race course from the plane on the approach to Lisbon. One of the main goals that Larry had in mind was to make the sport more appealing to spectators. They moved the race course very close to shore so that all events could easily be followed from the beaches, piers and streets of Cascais. We set up at our hotel’s pool with a laptop so we could also follow the excellent live stream online. While GPS maps have been standard in sailing races for a while now, there were cameras everywhere. On the boats, on other boats and on three helicopters. The sailors were equipped with microphones to provide live audio of on-board communications including swearing.
I was very impressed by the professionalism and dedication of Team Oracle and the organizers of the cup. It became clear in every detail of the event that these guys are serious about changing the style of Cup Racing to make it more exciting, televisable, accessible to a wider audience and bring together the fastest boats and best sailors. Experiencing this drive for excellence is fascinating and provides an insight into the mentality that led to not only domination in sailing but the database world aswell. Rest assured: If Larry has a vision, he will commit to get it right.
And in my opinion, it all paid out. The whole event is packed with fun and excitement and so were the races. There were lots of lead changes and close calls, tight maneuvers and passionate sailors that pushed their boats to the edge.
The official website has a ton of information and breathtaking video coverage. Check it out! Go to any of the upcoming venues, follow the races from the beach, boats or bars. It will be worth your time and there is also a lot going on on shore. You can get really close to the team bases and admire the technology and watch the teams prepare. The race is broadcast to a huge stage and screen which hosts DJs and live music at night.