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Sunday, August 14, 2011

2011 America's Cup World Series and Count Ferrari, Part 1, the Plan

Adventures begin in odd ways.  One should pay attention to the little things in life as they often make one complete with less stress than if one hadn't listened.  Eg...Stay within 10% of the speed limit, keep your wife happy (Happy Wife, Happy Life), stay actively engaged in leisure activities so one can burn off calories consumed at the chocolate bar, etc...

I was playing a round of disc golf at a mini tournament with 8 friends, many of whom were sailors.  It seems logical that sailors would make good disc spinners as the wind is our friend and we are used to making it work for us.  Anyway, Sunshine (not his real name, but the disc name his now wife bestowed on him), and I were in a state of rapture from watching the America's Cup 45' catamarans racing in Portugal at the first of 3 World Series.  It was agreed these boats, with speeds of 40 kph (metric),  are game changers and the coverage on the web, live!, is amazing.  He suggested we go to San Diego in November to watch.  It seemed like a fun thing to say yes to so I did.

For those who have not watched much of the Cascais, Portugal ingural event for the ACWS, here is a link.

Click here for a link to the ACWS archives

On to the next day, and turning these fantasies into a reality.  The AC series would be in San Diego for November 12-20.  It will be the third series in the run up for the America's Cup in early 2013 in San Franciso on the 72' winged catamarans that do not exist yet.  There may be other venues but that is as much as I could find.

Setting UP the deal:

Who would go with me?  My lovely wife the Countess turned me down flat as we are going to be gone in early December and she didn't want to get the farm sitter for more time.  OK, kitchen pass covered.

Historical bio of the Count and AC:

It seems the best way to view the race course would be from the water.  I have a boat but it is not practical to sail the 42' Jah Mon to San Diego for a week.  Other friends have various boats but getting them there would be an issue requiring a lot of leisure time expenditure and perhaps limited viewing due to race course restrictions.  Based on my last SD America's Cup experience in 1992, I thought getting my press credentials would be the way to go as it opened a LOT of doors when I went there to cover for the Everett Herald.  Nothing was published then but I did submit an article.  The press boat is by far the treasured ride to view the race courses.  In 1992, my photographer and I were allowed up to the bridge of the press boat and asked where we wanted to be on the course for best viewing!  We took full advantage of it and got ring side seats for what was the most lead exchanges in Louis Vuitton Cup (sp)  history to that point (3xs between France and Italy).

Financing and survival issues:

I have tons of air miles for the ride down and back, a place to stay with a kindergarten buddy from 1955, and enough cash to get a rental car as needed.  Things are looking good for leisure pursuit with minimum outlay for an optimized experience.  Now for the press pass.  There are several sources to be pursued but those will be secret for the nonce.  I do know that John Papajani, the Rear Admiral (Albainian Navy) has his creds set up for the 2013 AC in San Francisco, along with a 5 week motel reservation 10 minutes from the St. Francis Yacht Club.  Maybe he can go along?  Sunshine, Ian Sloan, an independent yacht rigger and pro racer from Anacortes and a Category 3 Pro Sailor might be able to get the local Anacortes papers to set him up.  A bit of coaching from me and he should be able to pull a credible pass up for him and his lovely wife as photographer.

The adventure will continue as steps are taken and documented here.  Stay tuned, will the Count acquire a press pass?,  is there to be a photographer traveling with him?, should we rent our own helicopter or ask our sponsors to hire one for us?  Stay tuned.... same Count Blog, same Count attitude!

AS OF September 26, 2011:

After one day Scuttlbutt's Editor (, Craig Leweck (send him feedback on the blog to make him feel good)  emailed back to me in the AFFIRMATIVE.  Or to use his word. "Absolutely".

Next was the finding of the correct webpage to register with the ACWS for the San Diego venue and found out I had to wait until the Plymouth venue had pretty much over before they would even start processing their requests.  I have heard back but only to the extent that they are processing and will be letting us know what they are going to approve.  I feel the Scuttlebutt nod is an Ace up my sleeve.

My two friends, Ian and Joy Sloan, Anacortes Rigging in Anacortes (Cat 3 sailors) are taking the plunge with potential press creds from the Anacortes American.  Anacortes may have some memory in the AC world as the place the DogZilla was built.  So maybe a nod from the ACWS dudes to these two will come to fruition.

It appears I will be traveling solo but have deluxe (free) accommodations less than an hour from the Missouri, (this is an aircraft carrier that is open for tours on the San Diego waterfront and would be a good spot to watch the races from.)  The ACWS is based right next to the carrier.

Sacrifices need to be made but taking two weeks to cover this thing should be enough to experience it for some sort of article.  Speculative, I know, but what else can I do short of buying my own AC45 and financing a team.... Buy in costs...$2-4 million?  One of the many questions I will be asking.

For the discerning reader, the one that is reading this blog entry as I plan, feel free to add comments and questions at the bottom of the blog and perhaps there is a way for me to find out whatever you may want to know about these teams with their slick fast 45' catamarans.

A post as of October 18, 2011:

The big event is about a month away and 1500 miles south give or take.  I have been granted 'Press' status by the AC media with assistance from Scuttlebutt.  It seems that each media source is only granted one representative.

Other friends are granted in as in Rear Admiral John Papajani who is representing the local free rag, NW Yachting, and Joy Sloan who is vetted by the Anacortes American.  Ian Sloan is still looking for a sponsoring media.  We shall see if he finds one.  I think they are planning on going down regardless.

What to write about?

I have been reading all I can find on this series and that is a lot of reading.  Many bits and pieces but it is starting to sound much the same.  I am looking for some slant that is different from the normal AC dialog.

I am leaning towards the maintenance end of things for research.

For instance:  I had heard that DogZilla took 100 man hours of work for each hour sailed.  What is the current status of the AC 45s?  I know my own Catalina 42 is roughly 2 hours work for each hour sailed but that number is more like 1:1 or even .5:1 when considering the overnight time.  An active and accurate analysis has yet to be done.

1:  I suspect there is one source of maintenance for all the boats in this series and they are independent of Oracle.
This is a good place to research when I get to SD 3 days in advance.

2:  I will be putting my hat in the ring to take a ride on any 45 but who knows...

3:  I hear from the AC Media that the press boat is going to be crowded.  I put in my request to be on it.  We shall see how that goes.

4:  Why does Oracle have 4 of these 45s?  I know they cost a $1 million each but they are purchased from some company in NZ that Oracle owns so does it really cost Oracle the same amount?

5:  Rumor has an Italian team coming in soon.  More research needed.  BUT this is likely since the AC venues had 2 dates set in recently for Venice Italy!  It costs the ports money to bring this show to town but why would Venice put out the money if there was no Italian challenger?

Accommodations, flight, and rental car:

I will be laying my head at my friend's condo in Carlsbad CA.  Less than an hour from SD and no cost for the 2 weeks except to feed him well!  This is good news.  Also, I will have the Rear Admiral bunking there too.

The flight was booked by my wife (it is good to get the team play here for the kitchen pass) as she is dropping and picking me up at the airport.  She used air miles so the ticket cost $5.  So far so good!

Next is the rental car... I think I will try and bid it on Priceline and see if I can reduce costs from the $200 quote I got at Travelocity.  More later, same Count Blog, same Count attitude!

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