Monday, September 9, 2013

Actions Speak Loudly

It is frequently said that actions speak more loudly than words. I am finding this to be particularly true in the matter of the cheating by Oracle in the America's Cup World Series. Much of what is said has been untrue, nonsensical, disgusting, or repetitive (or all of the above). While I have been wondering all summer what my late father, a WWII veteran of the US Navy and enthusiastic sailor, would have thought of the AC-72 catamarans being sailed in the current races, I don't have to wonder what he would have thought about the cheating. My father had a strong sense of honor.

There are a couple of basic facts that nobody is denying:
  1. Of the 24 sailors on Oracle Team USA, only two are actually from the USA. Eight are from New Zealand, seven from Australia, and the rest come from the Netherlands, Antigua, Canada, France, and Italy.
  2. A number (allegedly a very small number) of the members of Oracle Team USA illegally modified the AC-45 catamarans they sailed in the America's Cup World Series.

So, leaving aside exactly who did what, and who knew what when, what do these facts say? The first one says that Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle (or whoever chose the sailors for the team) did not think that Americans were good enough to defend the America's Cup. The second one says that some members of this carefully selected team did not think they were good enough to win without cheating.

Given the fact that of the races sailed to date Oracle has lost three (by 36, 52, and 28 seconds), while New Zealand has lost only one (by 5 seconds), the latter "statement" may be true.

Bob Fisher, who is writing a series of books about the America's Cup: An Absorbing Interest; Sailing on the Edge; and An Absorbing Contest, plans to call the next book The Poisoned Chalice. He is certainly not going to lack material for it.

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