The Beautiful Sounds of USA 49’s Christening
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SAN PEDRO, CA - July 17, 1999 - By Peter D. Henig
"Paul came up to me and said, ‘Morgan, I need a song, give me a song,’" remembers Morgan Larson, crewmember of the AmericaOne, the America’s Cup challenger representing the St. Francis Yacht Club, of his Skipper’s request for a song to play at the christening of the new USA 49.
"So I tell him, "I’ve got just the song, ‘Going the Distance’ by Cake."
True to Paul Cayard’s attention to detail, the skipper took Mr. Larson’s request under advisement yet still spent another hour the night before the launch of AmericaOne’s newest boat ? its first of two being built specifically for the America’s Cup challenge in Auckland, New Zealand ? deciding if another tune might be more appropriate; particularly for the more than 500 founders, sponsors, guests, friends, family, team members and media who would be attending USA 49’s debut.
In the end, Mr. Cayard let the sound of an etched champagne bottle swung hard against the boat’s side play its own tune. And it was all the music the crowd needed to hear, as a chorus of cheers celebrated the launch of the sleek new USA 49.
The perfect setting
On a crystal clear day, with the sun shining deeply into the boat basin at South West Marine overlooking Los Angeles Harbor, and in front of a global audience via live Webcast, Mr. Cayard and his wife christened the newest member of the AmericaOne fleet, USA 49, reflecting the team’s California roots and its pioneering spirit in attempting to arrest the Cup back from the Kiwis.
AmericaOne also unveiled a newly-designed team logo and design for the campaign’s boats, clothing and website. USA 49 is the first of two boats to be built by Westerly Marine Inc. of Costa Mesa, California. It was designed by two-time America’s Cup winner and AmericaOne principal designer, Bruce Nelson and his 45-member design team from AmericaOne sponsors Ford, Hewlett-Packard, SAIC and United Technologies.
With its massive boom, sleek shape and radical green and gray paint job, the USA 49 seemed fast even dangling in mid-air, set as the perfect backdrop for Mr. Cayard’s opening comments.
"Today is a very proud day for the AmericaOne design, shore and sailing teams," said Mr. Cayard, AmericaOne Skipper. "We are celebrating a vision we conceptualized well over three years ago with all those who have been so integral to our success - Founders' who provided our start-up funding, corporate sponsors who have provided us with critical campaign funding and technical support and media who helped us to tell our story."
But it’s also the start of a new stage in AmericaOne’s bid for the Cup, one which has been choreographed with almost a single-minded obsession from the day in 1995 when Mr. Cayard, driving Dennis Conner’s boat, lost the Cup to the Kiwis.
"It’s all happening, we’re full-on operationally," said Mr. Cayard, ebullient after the day’s events, calling Saturday’s christening "one that will rank among the coolest of all time."
Mr. Cayard’s enthusiasm had clearly rubbed off on his team as well. To plan for the christening, crew members had worked well into the wee hours of the morning the night beofe, prepping the boat for launch and leaving few things to chance. Even the simple task of how best to paint the hull’s skirt with the team’s corporate logos was labored over, with crew-members finally using good old-fashioned household latex paint after running 12-hour drip-dry tests. Runny logos behind a worldwide Webcast christening of possibly one of the fastest boats on earth simply doesn’t make for good pr.
But perhaps the nicest moments of the day were reserved for those friends and family of the team who have watched the AmericaOne slowly being pieced together over the last three years with the energy and bootstrapping verve that would make any high-tech start-up proud.
Even Mr. Cayard’s father, Pierre Cayard, seemed humbled by the awesome scene unfolding within the drydock area, although equally putting the Cup and his son’s accomplishments in perspective.
"We used to race Snipes and now it’s these [America’s Cup class boats]… But either way, it’s just about a man and a boat on the water, that’s all," said Mr. Cayard Sr.
So did Mr. Cayard’s father want him to be a sailor, to fulfill his dream of finally winning back the Cup? "No, I wanted him to be a dentist," he replied.
Nonetheless, perhaps Mr. Cayard’s better off on the water after all. At least the sounds of cheers and champagne at USA 49’s christening is better than any muzak version of Cake.
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