Sunday, March 20, 2005

Blowhard billionaire buddies battle and bluster

There are few things more hubristic than two billionaires match racing their multi-million dollar America’s Cup yachts just for pleasure. In case you didn’t catch it (back in 2003) Larry Ellison and Ernesto Bertarelli, respectively the sixth and 64th-richest men in the world did just that in San Francisco’s Moet Cup. We were living in the city then and walked down to the St. Francis Yacht Club on Saturday afternoon to watch them finish that days match. It was only Alinghi and Oracle on the course – two ridiculously expensive toys dueling on a cloudless, late summer afternoon in 20 knots of breeze. The waterfront was crammed with sightseers, yacht freaks, champagne revelers (it was a Moet event) and more pompous windbags per square inch than I’d seen in quite a while. Cynicism aside it was a beautiful sight. These boats are glorious to watch and they were being pressed to the edge by the conditions. You felt your heart beat quicker just watching them. You can read a very well written account here but what you won’t read about is Ernesto’s champagne soaked yammering at the victory ceremony – he ultimately lost to Larry which mattered not a whit as there wasn’t anything at stake. “We’re bad ass billionaires..” he reportedly exclaimed to the crowd, arm around his buddy Larry. It’s pretty easy to take a potshot at an ego that size and hey, this sort of posturing is not exactly a revelation but it still sets my teeth on edge. I think it’s a damn shame that these people end up being the ones representing sailing to the world.

USA 76- ORACLE/BMW sails past Alcatraz during the Moet Cup, September 15, 2003 (Courtesy Thomas Judge) Posted by Hello


Anonymous said...

I was on a speedboat that Saturday, chasing the Oracle. Larry is a loudmouth but what a yacht!

Anonymous said...

Great shot - who's Thomas Judge?

Anonymous said...

Yes, you certainly are a cynic. Who would you want to represent sailing to the world? I've sailed and raced much of my life and know that too many sailors are just as bad. It's just life and humanity, get over it !!!