Supporters' Group VisitsAmericaOne
Match racing against the Swiss syndicate
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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - February 21, 1999 - A Special Delegation of AmericaOne supporters is visiting Auckland on a weeklong tour to learn first hand what it takes to win the America's Cup. The group includes sponsors, media contacts and committed followers. Freelance adventure sports journalist Peter Henig is traveling with the group. He is also a technology and business editor for the Red Herring magazine and online service based out of San Francisco and will post daily reports from Auckland.
Kiwiland Update - February 21, 1999
"Well, we must have lent them that spinnaker," said Bob Billingham, COO of the AmericaOne syndicate as the Swiss boat hoisted a chute plastered with the words "Kraft" and "Foster's Lager".
But weren't those the sponsors of the Aussie boat in the 1995 America's Cup?
Indeed they were. Which is why the Americans, having just leased the OneAustralia boat to train on in New Zealand, also had access to the Aussies' spinnakers, and somewhat by proxy, the logos which came with them.
Not that Ford, Bellcore, and Hewlett-Packard, three of the AmericaOne's main corporate sponsors, weren't getting their own play up on the mainsail of AmericaOne's own boat. It's just that in the game of musical sails and sailors which is being played out here in Auckland, New Zealand nearly a year ahead of the America's Cup finals in 2000, boats from previous Cups and racers from various nations seem to be all over the map.
"I'm from New Zealand, he's from France, the skipper's German," said one member of the Swiss syndicate, which itself is currently training on a previous America's Cup boat from France. For that matter, there's more than a few Kiwis, and an Australian or two, on the AmericaOne syndicate itself.
Although, lest the Americans forget their own national pride, there's a bomb specialist from the U.S. Navy, who's worked on special detail for the President, to keep them in line.
With many of the other syndicates who had been over here training in the January and February winds to match next year's race conditions having just packed up and left -- the well-funded and well-fashioned Italian Prada boat just hit the road, the New York Yacht Club's Young America syndicate departed even prior to them, and the Kiwi syndicate is keeping more to themselves -- the opportunity for the Americans to match race against the Swiss was a welcome one; particularly given that unseasonably strong winds had kept the boats in port and out of training time for at least five days up until now.
With a boatload of visiting media and sponsors in tow, a helicopter shooting photos from above, and an uncooperative breeze which didn't fill in from the Northeast until the afternoon, the circular demands of managing a syndicate, building publicity, while still figuring out how to win a race that doesn't even start for another eight months was immediately apparent out on the Hauraki Gulf, the site of the race course for the America's Cup 2000.
With the Americans running a faster boat with a crew which has trained together far longer than the Swiss -- what language do they speak on that boat anyway? -- the AmericaOne left the Swiss very much tied in knots, with a four-boat length lead at times being a conservative guess as to the stretch of space between the two boats.
But for now it's more about training and tweaking and designing the next boats than it is about winners and losers. The first of AmericaOne's new designs is scheduled to be delivered in June in Long Beach, CA, the next stop for the crew after they depart New Zealand, and take a two-month break.
As Bruce Nelson, designer for the AmericaOne campaign, says, "It's already in the oven." That's a good thing, because whether the skippers, crew or tacticians are from anywhere else on the planet, in order for a syndicate to appropriately claim it represents a specific country, it's boat has to at least have been built there."
Online Investment Editor
The Red Herring Online
AmericaOneis dedicated to recapturing the America’s Cup by applying U.S. technology in computer equipment, aerodynamics, hydrodynamics, sail design, naval architecture and structural engineering to America's Cup sailboat design. Technology partners include Hewlett-Packard Company, Bellcore/SAIC and Ford Motor Company/Visteon. The AmericaOne team is comprised of 43 professionals, including 30 members of the design team actively working on the research and design of its sailboats. Operating since June 1, 1996, AmericaOne is the challenger on behalf of San Francisco’s St. Francis Yacht Club.
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