AmericaOne Advances to the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals

AmericaOne, the San Francisco-based St. Francis Yacht Club's America’s Cup 2000 challenger, advances to the Finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup. As the top scoring team in the Semi-Finals, AmericaOne will race against Prada Challenge beginning January 25.

During the Semi-Finals, the scoreboard from the previous rounds was cleared. Six challengers from four nations raced each other two times, a win was worth one point.

Following is a summary of each of AmericaOne’s races.

[Race 1, January 2]
AmericaOne beat Le Défi Francais (FRA 46) by 22s. The first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup was a good test for USA 61, making its debut on the Hauraki Gulf. “We were pleased to have USA 61 come out of the box a winner,” said Paul Cayard AmericaOne Skipper & CEO. “The French did a good job keeping us on our guard and the match close.”

[Race 2, January 3]
AmericaOne lost to America True (USA 51) by 2m 23s. Gusty winds and heavy seas added an extra challenge to the much-anticipated match. USA 61’s speed potential began to show when the AmericaOne Team was able to extend its lead off the starting line to the windward mark.

After rounding, AmericaOne lost precious time due to a gear failure onboard USA 61 when a crossed spinnaker halyard led to a delayed set. Now trailing USA 51, AmericaOne had to work fast to gain back valuable distance. Luck changed at the second windward mark when America True’s spinnaker tore, causing the spinnaker pole to break. This incident contributed to a one minute lead for USA 61 at the last leeward mark rounding. Moments later, the jib halyard on USA 61 broke and the headsail came down, tearing the sleeve of the jib which holds it onto the forestay. Without the ability to put up another headsail, USA 61 was effectively out of the race. “It’s frustrating to lead for two-thirds of the race,” said Cayard. “And then lose due to gear failure.”

[January 4]
Four challengers invoked the postponement rule for the first time in the Louis Vuitton Cup. With wind speeds in excess of 18 knots, four of the challengers — America True, Nippon Challenge, Stars & Stripes, and Le Défi Francais — requested a postponement of racing to a future date. The race committee granted their request under Rule 14.4 (d) of the Notice of Race, which permits postponement upon unanimous agreement between the race committee and the representatives of the competing boats.

Due to rain squalls with winds over 30 knots, the committee eventually abandoned racing, including the match between AmericaOne and Prada Challenge.

[Race 3, January 5]
AmericaOne beat Prada when Luna Rossa (ITA 45) dismasted on the first leg. USA 61 charged into the start box with a mission: To defeat ITA 45. On starboard, USA 61 rounded the committee boat while ITA 45, on port, rounded from the opposite direction in an attempt to shut-out AmericaOne. USA 61 gybed and ducked in the gap between the transom of the race committee boat and Luna Rossa. AmericaOne crossed the start with a 10-second lead.

Halfway up the leg Luna Rossa’s mast split at the third spreader disabling ITA 45 for the remainder of the race. AmericaOne continued around the course to collect one point.

[Race 4, January 7]
AmericaOne beat Nippon Challenge (JPN 44) by 23s. USA 61 and JPN 44 remained close, exchanging tacks and gybes throughout the first lap. On the second windward leg, AmericaOne caught a windshift and effectively stretched the lead to the leeward mark, protecting its position to the finish. “Nippon sailed well and was always there to capitalize if we made any mistakes,” said AmericaOne Tactician John Kostecki. “It was great to have a heated, competitive match.”

[Race 5, January 8]
AmericaOne beat Stars & Stripes (USA 55) by 2m 43s. After winning the start against Ken Read and USA 55, Cayard and the AmericaOne Team outpaced USA 55, rounding the first leeward mark 1m 14s ahead. The team continued to use better boatspeed and handily won.

[Race 6, January 9]
AmericaOne beat Le Défi Francais (FRA 46) by 1m 16s. A thrilling pre-start period found USA 61 taking control. Seconds before the gun, AmericaOne, to leeward, luffed, while the French team edged close to the starting line. FRA 46 was forced to split and tacked away; USA 61 accelerated and crossed the line, gaining control of the favored left side of the course. AmericaOne continued to stretch on the weather legs and USA 61’s position was never challenged. John Demourkas, AmericaOne-Lycos Auction winner rode as 17th crew aboard USA 61.

The International Jury stripped one point from Stars & Stripes for using an illegal rudder in Race 1.

[Race 7, January 10]
AmericaOne beat America True (USA 51) by 1m 16s. This race was billed as the final San Francisco showdown, as it would be the last time that the two would race in the Louis Vuitton Cup. The race didn’t disappoint fans. It was a race full of tacking and gybing duels, with AmericaOne benefiting from significant wind shifts and excellent tactical decisions by Kostecki. AmericaOne won the race convincingly.

[Race 8, January 11]
AmericaOne beat Prada Challenge (ITA 45) by 8s. This race was the highlight of the entire Louis Vuitton Cup Semi-Finals: Fantastic conditions, exciting racing, and thrilling tactical situations kept spectators on the edge of their seats.

USA 61 gained a two boatlength lead on the first leg from a considerable wind shift, rounding the windward mark 1m 8s ahead. Although ITA 45 gained downwind, AmericaOne increased its lead on the upwind legs.

As the boats approached the third weather mark, ITA 45 overtook USA 61, rounding inside and gaining a lead. The teams accelerated down the run for an action-packed finish. A total of 11 protests were exchanged and one penalty per boat was given; Prada for windward boat failing to keep clear, AmericaOne for failing to keep clear while overtaking from clear astern. Francesco de Angelis, at the helm of Luna Rossa, initiated a three-gybe gybing duel in an attempt to work off a penalty. It wasn’t enough for the Italians as USA 61 charged ahead to the finish.

[Race 9, January 12]
AmericaOne beat Nippon Challenge’s Asura (JPN 44) by 17s. Race 9 was a turning point for AmericaOne securing its spot in the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals. From aggressive pre-start maneuvers to a tacking and gybing duels, the crew of Asura fought a hard battle. The AmericaOne Team defended its position off the start and crossed the finish first.

[Race 10, January 13]
AmericaOne lost to Stars & Stripes (USA 55) by 22s. The race against Stars & Stripes occurred in big seas and 15-18 knot winds. Both boats started on starboard, although after splitting up the beat, USA 55 was the beneficiary of two significant wind shifts, giving them a lead around the mark. AmericaOne continued to make up time, but on the last upwind leg, USA 55 put enough distance between them and AmericaOne to maintain its lead. The race concluded in a gybing duel, with AmericaOne closing to less than a boatlength. Stars & Stripes defended its lead to take the win.

The Finals
AmericaOne meets Prada Challenge in the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals, beginning January 25. Challengers will race one race per day in a best-of-nine series. The first team to win five races will win the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Race Results: Semi-Finals
Syndicate Points
AmericaOne 8*
Prada 7*
Stars & Stripes 6
Nippon Challenge 4
America True 2
Le Defi Francais 1.5
*The two highest scoring syndiscates advance to the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals.




Another hurdle and another step up for AmericaOne. We raised our game once again and won the Semi-Final Round with 8 wins out of 10 races. I’m very proud of what we have achieved and happy to have the Semi-Finals behind us. Now we focus on one competitor for a best 5 out of 9 series. The better team will win.

The key to our success in the Semis was getting the side of the racecourse that we wanted at the start and hitting the first shift. This put us in control of the races at the first cross and from there John Kostecki and Morgan Larson did an excellent job of keeping us in phase. Roger Badham, our meteorologist, and his weather team played a key role in these calls. USA 61 also showed her pedigree…she is an all-around boat with some awesome moments of agility and acceleration. Thanks to the AmericaOne Design Team, headed by Bruce Nelson, and to Ford, Hewlett-Packard, SAIC, Telcordia Technologies, United Technologies, and Visteon for their direct involvement with the design of our boats. These captains of American technology have made a difference in this game to the benefit of AmericaOne!

Our crew work, boat handling, and starts also took a step forward. During the holidays, we went to school — watching videos, dissecting maneuvers, making “plays,” and then practicing to near perfection. This gave us confidence on the racecourse as well as better execution of our maneuvers.

My decision to race against Stars & Stripes became very clear to me the evening prior to the match. We had just clinched our place in the Finals by beating Nippon and with one race to go, we were now faced with a tough question: Should we race against Stars & Stripes? I realized that having raced the last two Cup finals with Il Moro in 1992 and Stars & Stripes in 1995, I had a lot of former teammates on both Prada and Stars & Stripes. In this challenge I’m both the CEO and the Skipper, which means having to weigh both the business and sporting considerations. The businessman in me said, “Don’t race, don’t put tacks on the sails, don’t damage the mast.” The sportsman in me said, “You have to give those guys the same opportunity to go to the Finals. They have been a part of history with you. You owe it to them.” I had realized that win, lose, or not sail, someone would be unhappy. So the sportsman in me carried the decision. I wrote a letter to both Ken Read, of Stars & Stripes, and Francesco de Angelis, of Prada, explaining that we would be out there racing to win. I know they appreciated it and that is what is important to me.

When we lost to Stars & Stripes, Prada was unhappy and suggested to the media that I threw the race and tagged me as a liar. This hurt because I know in my heart that we raced as hard as we could and I know that we did that out of respect for both sides. Now one of those sides was turning against us. After about an hour of worrying about it, I decided that I could not dwell on the issue as there was not much more I could do. People who don’t take my word for something like that don’t know me. It has been pleasant to receive so many emails and see articles supporting our decision. Bill Koch, my rival in the 1992 Finals, was a notable supporter and spoke out against my critics. I am proud of AmericaOne and no one should ever question our integrity.

Now we look forward. With our success, we have bought 10 more days to improve. What will we do? We are working on a couple of appendage projects and we will certainly be getting a selection of new sails. We will blend work with rest, as a big part of these races is being able to sail our best. The sailor is a bigger factor in this Cup, more so than in the past…the boats are closer in speed after three generations in this class and the venue is very tricky. We are all a bit tired at this stage of the event and I think this is true of all teams. We will probably sail six or seven of the 12 days before the start of the Finals. The 5 out of 9 series will be a tough battle, but I have every confidence in USA 61 and those who sail on her and support her ashore.

While we recognize that a lot of good work has been done so far, we know that a lot more has yet to be done in order for us to be fully satisfied. Having been all the way down the road to the America’s Cup in 1992 and 1995, I know how long the road is and I also know I don't want it to end without a victory. Now with two regattas remaining, our mission is quite clear…Win 10 more races!

Thanks and stay tuned.


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Join the fun! Call 1-877-987-2287 Reference NZIA


Semi-Finals Sailing Team: Bill Bates, San Diego, CA, mast/sewer; Josh Belsky, Hood River, OR, pit; Curtis Blewett, Los Angeles, CA, mid-bow; Gavin Brady, Annapolis, MD, strategist; Paul Cayard, Kentfield, CA, helmsman; Sean Clarkson, Middletown, RI, main assist; Mike Howard, Malibu, CA, grinder; Terry Hutchinson, Annapolis, MD, mainsheet; Lexi Gahagan, Wilmington, DE, navigator; John Kostecki, Fairfax, CA, tactician; Morgan Larson, Capitola, CA, traveler, David McClintock, Portsmouth, RI, upwind trim; Jim Nicholas, San Diego, CA, grinder; Carter Perrin, Houston, TX, downwind trim; Greg Prussia, Oroville, CA, bow; Ralf Steitz, Port Washington, NY, traveler; Phil Trinter, Lorain, OH, grinder; and Matt Welling, Bay Shore, NY, grinder.

Semi-Final 17th Crew: Race 1, Steve Hooper, San Francisco, CA; Race 2, Mal Thompson, Auckland, NZ, Race 3, Matt Tobriner, San Diego, CA; Race 4, Doug Smith, Piedmont, CA; Race 5, Jack Martin, Boca Gizamoe, FL; Race 6, John Demourkas, Santa Barbara, CA; Race 7, Jim Doyle of the San Francisco Chronicle; Race 8, Stu Abraham; Race 9, Bill Koch, Osterville, MA; Race 10, Icka Cayard, Kentfield, CA.


Even though the AmericaOne Team was far from home during the holiday season, we celebrated the magic of the holidays at the Auckland Museum of Art. Close to 200 team members and invited family and friends got a sneak peek at the new Maori Native Culture exhibit, while toasting with our team suppliers’ Montana Vineyards wines and Stella Artois beer. The highlight of the night was the arrival of Santa Claus, who passed out presents, donated by AmericaOne’s Founders’ Club, to the children.

Paul Cayard, CEO and Skipper of AmericaOne, spoke to the team about the importance of family support during the Louis Vuitton Cup. Afterward the group was treated to a multimedia presentation by AmericaOne Videographer Vince Casalaina and AmericaOne Photographer Sharon Green, featuring images of the team during the three Round Robins of the Louis Vuitton Cup.

The next morning, the team arrived at the compound to a traditional Kiwi Christmas breakfast. The team’s three cooks - Mark Reihana, Harry Lynskey, and Chris Bond - prepared a huge feast to give the team a good start before a day of two-boat testing. All team members received gift baskets with products from the team sponsors: Montana Vineyards, Stella Artois, Mt. Gay, Glengarry’s, Sharon Green/Ultimate Sailing, Louis Vuitton, Griffins/Eta, Lion Breweries, and Aotea Souvenirs.


On December 30th, the AmericaOne kids participated in the Louis Vuitton Cup Millennium Madness Party, sponsored by Louis Vuitton, at Motahui Island, New Zealand. In all, 26 AmericaOne children attended with their moms, nannies, and staff. Led by AmericaOne Merchandising Manager Susan Ruhne, the kids had a memorable day full of excitement, entertainment, and good times.

The group was shuttled out to the island of fun by the AmericaOne spectator boat, which had a barbershop quartet singing songs to occupy the passengers during the one hour trip. Upon arrival, the kids were met by clowns, magicians, and fairy princesses. Throughout the day kids were kept entertained with games and activities.

AmericaOne kids spent lots of time in the kayaks and windsurfers. “We definitely have some California kids in our group, judging by the amount of time they all stayed in the water,” said Ruhne.


What an exciting experience for the AmericaOne Team — to be in Auckland, New Zealand sailing in the Louis Vuitton Cup, while celebrating the Millennium. We could not ask for a more special place to be. The fans and supporters of New Zealand have made our home away from home comfortable and fun. New Year’s Eve was a very special evening for us.

Team members spent the evening in different ways. Some by having dinner with friends and family in town, others went to the Split Enz concert at the Viaduct Basin Amphitheater. At midnight the AmericaOne compound came alive with champagne toasts under a dazzling display of fireworks. The famous Sky Tower, at a height of 300 meters, was the centerpiece of the display, which was broadcast around the world. Auckland was definitely the place to be as the sun rose on the first country to see the dawn of the new Millennium.

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The Semi-Final Round of the Louis Vuitton Cup was the most challenging racing for the team, and the syndicate. We were fortunate to have many of our supporters in town to cheer us on. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.

Charles Schwab Joins AmericaOne

Charles Schwab & Co., Inc., a leading financial services firm, has joined AmericaOne as an official sponsor. This is the first time that Schwab has sponsored an America’s Cup challenger. “The demographics of the average sailing audience fits with our core target at Schwab,” said Len Short, Schwab’s executive vice president of advertising and brand management. “The global nature of sailing ties in with our international expansion efforts. Supporting one of the leading syndicates headquartered out of our hometown made this an easy decision to make.”

The sponsorship includes prominent Web exposure and logo visibility onboard AmericaOne’s two International America’s Cup Class yachts USA 49 and USA 61.

“To have such a reputable financial services firm back us because we make good business sense, is a testament to the increasing value of sailing as a sports marketing tool,” said Paul Cayard. “We’re honored to have Charles Schwab sponsoring the team.”


“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Deneen Demourkas about her husband’s ride as 17th crew aboard AmericaOne’s USA 61 in the Louis Vuitton Cup. Demourkas won the trip for her husband by being the top bidder on the website auction. is one of the world’s most visited Internet sites.

AmericaOne sailed against Le Défi Francais in Race 6 of the Semi Finals, winning by 1m 16s. John and Deneen Demourkas also won authentic AmericaOne Team gear, dinners with the AmericaOne Team, accommodation at the Sheraton Hotel, and a roundtrip flight on Air New Zealand. Neither had ever participated in an online auction before the AmericaOne 17th crew trip package was offered.

“We’re really excited by the enthusiasm and interest generated by the Lycos auction,” said AmericaOne Marketing Director Gina von Esmarch. “The entire team enjoyed hosting the Demourkases in Auckland and having John onboard USA 61 during the Semi-Finals.”


In mid-January AmericaOne was featured on the popular online chats. On January 18 sailing fans chatted with AmericaOne COO Bob Billingham about the syndicate’s sponsors, Louis Vuitton racing, and life for the team in Auckland. On January 19, Robert Hook, AmericaOne Sail Designer, chatted about the sail designs used in the Louis Vuitton Cup and what it takes to design an America’s Cup sail. “I was really impressed with the interesting questions participants posed,” said Billingham. “We look forward to doing another chat with Lycos in the future.”

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Editor: Gina von Esmarch
Editorial Consultant: Dana Paxton