Monday 24th of June 2024

of competition and cooperation...

AC sirs

In these weird times when sports are played sporadically and in mostly Covid-free countries (say Kiwiland and Ockerspace) — or under strict conditions such as the Australian Open in Melbourne, the mention of "text book" competitive tactics re-enters the vernacular of commentators.




Of the main sports on choice now is the cricket — Australia versus India, drowned by rain yesterday (16/01/2021) — the Australian soccer league where it’s usually Sydney versus Melbourne once-again-once-more-one-all, and of course the preliminary races for the America’s cup in New Zealand. 



While the Aussie sports are on free-to-air TV, the AC is on Foxtel… 



Not having subscribed to cable/pay TV (I run a cheap budget), I watch the highlights on Youtube. It looks like yesterday’s races in light air was a painful affair as to which boat could “foil”. At one stage the Italian boat managed to fly at nearly 40 knots in an 8 knot puff of breeze. In the second race, the UK boat managed to finish and win the truncated 4-leg race with barely 2 minutes before the time limit expired. While the cricket and the soccer extensively makes the news daily, the AC seems to have been forgotten by the TV and other media outlets, possibly because sailing is a "rich man’s sport” and our annual Sydney to Hobart event was Covid-cancelled. 



Sailing for the America’s Cup is a “massively rich person’s sport”. Only Bob Hawke, on the win of Australia II against Dennis Connor in 1983, managed to bring this amazing victory down to an ockerdom level by saying that "Any boss who sacks anyone for not turning up today is a bum”...



So far, the Yankee boat, named American Magic, with the subtitle of “Patriot", has won nothing. Here, this sport for the rich and for sponsors of mostly exclusive products, who are after the fame of failure such as the Lipton tea baron and Baron Marcel Bich or grab the victory that befell Alan Bond in 1983 when his team wrestled the cup from its 132 year-old dusty glass housing in the New York Yacht Club, to soon find himself in prison for having embezzled HUGE amount of money from his companies. 



Not only Alan Bond won the America’s Cup — which the Schooner “America” had won in Cowes, 1851, ("M’am, there is no second!") in a friendly race that became the "deed of gift” (a gold mine for lawyers that both prevented and encouraged cheating on the various challenges) — Bond had also embezzled enough cash to start building a true replica of the Endeavour, Captain Cook’s boat. This magnificent ship was finished by subscription and lotteries as Bond was in jail, bankrupt.



Bankruptcy in Australia is a serious affair with penalty of prison and heavy fines, while in the US, bankruptcy is a way to make money — exhibit A being Donald Trump and exhibit B being now the NRA



The America’s Cup, the Holy Grail of sailing, also became a boon for clever inventions — hull shapes from flat-bottomed to knife-like and bigger sail plans, aluminium hulls that would rot quickly in sea water — with changing “deeds of gift” rules and limits, according to who could afford the price tag of technological advancements — advancements that are these days mind boggling, especially in the carbon fibre technology.



The stresses are enormous, even in light breeze. The thin foiling arms have to be able to sustain pressures above 25 tonnes for example. These AC75 would have been a slide-rule gamble without computerised calculations for stress and design. And the rules are still quite defined. Sir Ben's Pommy boat could have been disqualified had an added small (I guess about one inch diameter) hole in the bottom of the main sail not been approved by race inspectors on day one of the selection races, but this small hole became the subject of a protest which forced the hole to be patched and a new design solution approved to tension the sail near the mast. Rules are rules. No hole there.



The previous races held in Bermuda, 2017, with catamarans running at 30 knots in ten knots of breeze on foils, look like old steam engine racing compared to the souped-up AC75 of today, barely three years later. 



Sailing at 40 knots in 10 knots of breeze is not for the faint-hearted. There are many factors to manage and a lot of it is computerised by “avionics” so sophisticated you could land an A380 while being blindfolded with it.



Mind you, there is a crew of gym-ed-up beefy men — because everything has to be “man-powered" — pedalling generators the whole race time to recharge the batteries of the hydraulic pumps for the foiling arms which are hungry for power when switching position during tacking. Sometimes, you think “but why aren’t they tacking yet?”. Well, it could be there is not enough juice in the batteries to lift and lower the arms as needed. "The computer says no". Keep pedalling!… The hydraulics would need to push 250 tonnes up in order to lower the arm and lift the 7-tonne boat plus a possible downward sailing pressure of 10 tonnes. The electric pumps go like whining crazies… And the beefy men are sweating, with heart-rates being measured so they don’t go into heart-attack mode...



Talking of A380s, the Yankee boat is mainly sponsored by Airbus. Airbus has been the American AC competitor sponsor for a while now. The Italian boat, Prada-Pirelli Luna Rossa, is sponsored by Prada and Pirelli. The Pommy boat, named Britannia/Ineos, is sponsored by Ineos, a recently formed company that has bought many small chemical and vehicle manufacturing industries in the UK, with about $60 billion turnover in sales per annum, and by an older sports-gear making company, Belstaff, sawing since 1929. 



Of course, the former/current skippers of the America’s Cup are “stateless” because they are the best. For example, Jimmy Spithill, the Aussie, won the cup for the Americans a few times, lauded for steering Oracle Team USA to victory in the 2013 America's Cup over Team New Zealand. His “American" crew included Australia's Tom Slingsby, Kyle Langford and Joey Newton. Spithill is now racing for the Prada-Pirelli team. Dean Barker, the NeoZealander, who lost to Spitthill in San Francisco, is now skipper of the American Magic boat. The Neo-Zealander boat which is the defender of the cup is skippered by Peter Burling, a true-blue Kiwi who won the cup in Bermuda against Spithill-the-Aussie, who was working for the Yankees. 



So, Imagine, in San Francisco, Dean Barker, the Kiwi, was 8-1 on top of the Americans who had Jimmy Spithill at the helm. In the 13th race, Barker was in front by miles, and about to win the cup, but the 40-minute race time limit elapsed… No wind. This was very bad luck. Jimmy Spithill won ALL the next races with an overnight-tweaked, somehow faster boat… Two A-Cup for Jimmy.



What wins or loose a race series relies as much on the technological tweaks of the boats (remember the winged-keel painted to deceive onlookers underwater) as the skills of the skippers to pick the wind shifts. Yesterday’s races would have been tricky...



In the past, in the days of the J-Class boats, huge elegant beautiful monsters, the crews would be in white shirts, white socks (except for the New York Yacht Club in red socks) and white trousers, while the skipper donned a captain cap and a club jacket, at the wheel, drinking a cocktail.



In today’s racing, the sailors are equipped with helmets that would make cricketers envious. They also wear protective gear against hard-knocks, cold, water, wind and act as floating device should they fall into the drink. Their goggles are fully wind-proof and water-proof, because at 55 knots (the possible top speed of these AC75), like one of the Yankee commentators, a former sailing champion, would say, it’s “like having your head out of the window of a car on the road" doing 90 kms an hour while being drenched with salty water spray for 40 minutes. 



What will they come up with, next? Taking of Airbus, it’s likely that the next design could involve “flying” rather than “foiling”. Here I can see boats with a pair of sail/wings at 115 degrees angle of each others, flying a metre or so above the water with a 3 metre deep foil-less centreboard, while the rudder would have a foil to control the elevation. Stability would be controlled from the wings. Speed of 60 knots in 15 knots breeze could be expected according to my calculations. And this without an engine. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.



What has this got to do with democracy, you may ask? What has sports got to do with democracy?



Good question and you know the answer...



My guess is like yours: competition and cooperation are essential parts of life. They are "text book" items. No cooperation and life becomes a deadly bum fight in which everyone looses, Life destroys itself. No protein duplication possible. No competition and there is little or no evolution. No improvement. The trick of human democracy is to manage both competition and cooperation while staying sustainable in a limited system or a conglomerate of limited systems, which is planet earth. Not a small task... We’ve been working at it for the last 10,000 years and we have not found the correct mix yet. We’re still in fiddle-fuddle-land. We improvise, we storm the Capitol, we let kings, emperors and presidents decide and we pay for the privilege through taxes. We are happy on average.



We have our sentient problems. But we invent others, more devious than the previous, in order to get ahead of competitors. At this stage of approaching environmental limits, we need more cooperation than competition. Competition should not be bashing each others like male leopard seals fight in order to mate, but finding more elegant solutions to what we are and wish to do. The world is our relative oyster. Sciences rather beliefs should (and will) give us our stylistic next wish, in which the natural processes of the wild should be respected. A tall order? We shall see as the baton of democracy is changing hands...  Gus Leonisky Former sailor.  See also: and:flying high with the scientific method...



Update: barely ten minutes ago (6:00 PM in New zealand, 15:00 + daylight saving EST in Australia), American Magic "flew off" and landed back on its side, loosing the 17/01/2021 race to Prada-Pirelli. It seems to have taken on water, but the crew is all safe apparently...




Update (20/01/2021) Note the speed when the topple happens: 45 knots (83.34 km/h)


Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie, CBE (born 5 February 1977) is an English competitive sailor. Ainslie is the most successful sailor in Olympic history. He won medals at five consecutive Olympics from 1996 onwards, including gold at the four consecutive Games (Sydney, Athens, Beijing & London) held between 2000 and 2012.


Sir Ben Ainslie buffeted by 'sandbagging' claims as losing streak turns to victory

Sir Ben laughed off the accusations, saying his team’s success was down to substantial changes made over Christmas and New ...

The Daily Telegraph


Ben Ainslie hailed an "epic turnaround" by his Ineos Team UK after they won their first two races in the challenger series that will determine who faces Team New Zealand for the America's Cup.

The boat had been widely criticised as a "lame duck" after they lost all six races in December's World Series.

Ineos beat American Magic and Italy's Luna Rossa in the opening races of the four-week qualifier in Auckland.

Four-time Olympic sailing champion Ainslie called it a "team effort".

"Our entire team back on the dockyards, the designers, the engineers, the shore team, the boat builders, they had three epic weeks working to turn this boat around," added the Ineos skipper, who memorably joined Oracle Team USA as a tactician during the 2013 America's Cup as they came from 8-1 down to beat Team New Zealand 9-8..

"We are long way out of the woods yet, it's a couple of good races. Time to make the most of the momentum now."


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From the net:

Sandbagging is used in competitive sports, careers and even social situations. It’s a form of manipulation used to gain the upper hand, and it’s subtly devious. I became familiar with sandbagging some years ago. This form of manipulation is unlike any other tactic used by narcissists and toxic individuals. In fact, this act of dominance is seen in the ranks of reputable …

The term sandbagging generally refers to a cheat who conceals his real talents to fool his opponent. In cards, a sandbagger pretends his hand is lousy to get other players to put greater stakes on the table. In golf, a sandbagger pretends he has a lower level of ability than he really does. In pool, think Paul Newman in "The Hustler": a pool shark acting like an amateur to raise …


Note: Sir Thomas Lipton was a grocer who made a lot of money by being cheaper than his competitors...

the wars of desperate men...

Award-winning author Michael Walsh celebrates the masculine attributes of heroism that forged American civilization and Western culture by exploring historical battles in which soldiers chose death over dishonor in Last Stands: Why Men Fight When All Is Lost.

In our contemporary era, men are increasingly denied their heritage as warriors. A survival instinct that’s part of the human condition, the drive to wage war is natural. Without war, the United States would not exist. The technology that has eased manual labor, extended lifespans, and become an integral part of our lives and culture has often evolved from wartime scientific advancements. War is necessary to defend the social and political principles that define the virtues and freedoms of America and other Western nations. We should not be ashamed of the heroes who sacrificed their lives to build a better world. We should be honoring them.

The son of a Korean War veteran of the Inchon landing and the battle of the Chosin Reservoir with the U.S. Marine Corps, Michael Walsh knows all about heroism, valor, and the call of duty that requires men to fight for something greater than themselves to protect their families, fellow countrymen, and most of all their fellow soldiers. In Last Stands, Walsh reveals the causes and outcomes of more than a dozen battles in which a small fighting force refused to surrender to a far larger force, often dying to the last man.

From the Spartans’ defiance at Thermopylae and Roland’s epic defense of Charlemagne’s rear guard at Ronceveaux Pass, through Santa Anna’s siege of the Alamo defended by Davy Crockett and Jim Bowie to the skirmish at Little Big Horn between Crazy Horse’s Sioux nation and George Armstrong Custer’s Seventh Calvary, to the Soviets’ titanic struggle against the German Wehrmacht at Stalingrad, and more, Walsh reminds us all of the debt we owe to heroes willing to risk their lives against overwhelming odds―and how these sacrifices and battles are not only a part of military history but our common civilizational heritage.


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Now, with technological advances that can destroy the planet in minutes, we should recognise that the era of individual sacrifice has relatively vanished. As Elon Musk has said: "the era of the jetfighter is finished"... What is harder is to find ways to cooperate better.


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cooperative spirit...


Auckland, New Zealand - After racing into a squall, crashing, capsizing, incurring significant damage and coming close to sinking, American Magic’s AC75 racing yacht, PATRIOT, made it back to shore at 10:45 PM NZDT after a herculean effort to save the boat.
“First and foremost, we are incredibly grateful and thankful that everybody is safe,” said Terry Hutchinson, Skipper and Executive Director of American Magic, the U.S. Challenger for the America’s Cup. “The team did an incredible job getting PATRIOT back to the dock.”
The arrival of the American AC75 back to the team base in Wynyard Quarter was due not only to the perseverance of the team, which never gave up the fight over many hours, but that of the greater Auckland and America’s Cup communities. The three other Cup teams, the AC36 event management team, and multiple branches of Auckland’s rescue services came to the aid of American Magic in a moment of urgent need.
“The response from the local community here was incredible, and you can't give enough thanks to the police, fire and local authorities for their quick response,” said Hutchinson shortly after stepping ashore, in darkness, alongside his exhausted but relieved teammates.
“The response from the other teams was amazing, too. It was certainly heartwarming to see all the support, and obviously we needed it because this was a crisis situation. Huge thanks to Emirates Team New Zealand, to INEOS Team UK, and to Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli for coming out and helping us.”
On the final leg of a race she was leading, a significant puff of wind sent the American AC75 hurtling into the air, followed by a hard re-entry into the water. The shock of the landing tore a hole into the port side of the yacht, which was not immediately apparent to the sailors onboard. PATRIOT capsized sideways into the water, port side down, which temporarily hid the extent of the damage.After following well-practiced capsize procedures, and determining that all were safe, American Magic righted the yacht to discover that she was sitting low in the water. It was apparent that this was a much different scenario than the team’s previous AC75 capsize, which occurred with the team’s now-retired first AC75, DEFIANT.
“We knew something was wrong straight away,” said Hutchinson. “When we tipped DEFIANT over, the boat was pretty buoyant and sat pretty high on her side. When we righted DEFIANT, and as we saw with Team New Zealand a few days ago when they righted their boat, the recovery was instantaneous. As soon as you get the breeze underneath the boat, underneath the mainsail, the boat pops back up.”
“Today on PATRIOT, when I was getting out of my cockpit, we were lower in the water. The ‘pop-up’ wasn't happening. So that was kind of the first indication. [Boat Captain] Tyson [Lamond] came through the comms saying ‘I think there's a hole in the boat.’ We spent the next couple of hours securing the platform.”

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sir ben is out...


Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli outraced the British team in today’s medium to light conditions that proved to favour the Italians so markedly.

For the second time in their six attempts, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli have their name included in the exclusive list of just 36 challengers in 170 years that have made it to the America’s Cup itself.

As happened 20 years ago, the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand will face Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli on the Hauraki Gulf to decide who will win the most difficult and oldest trophy in international sport.


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usual skippers...


Sir Ben Ainslie won the SailGP in Bermuda a few days ago… (25-26 April 2021)


This GP (Powered by Nature — wind) held over two days in six races was exciting to watch on the box. The replay can be seen on Youtube (no political controversies here —  One interesting aspect of these races in which the quite large catamarans (all the same, except for the paint jobs) were travelling at high speed up to 99 km/h (imagine!) with the usual collision and capsize, was the usual suspects in the make-up of the crews. 


The Aussie Crew which, after winning most previous races, was defeated by Sir Ben in the last race (first at the post takes all) by a mere five seconds, was led by Tom Slingsby ( 


We already have mentioned Sir Ben Ainslie and his bid for the America’s Cup (read from top).


The other usual culprits, possibly recovering from too much celebrations and commiserations were Peter Burling, leading the New Zealand team (winner) — and for the American crew, the Australian Jimmy Spithill, who had lost the challenge for the America’s Cup on the Italian boat, Luna Rossa. ( Both performed rather poorly, Spithill's having been rammed by the Japanese boat and Burling having technological issues with the foil-boards early on.


Spithill co-driver on Luna Rossa, Francesco Bruni ( was but a sail trimmer on the Japan SailGP boat driven by Nathan Outteridge, another Aussie (


Phil Robertson is a kiwi who has represented China and Russia but on this occasion was the skipper for the Spanish team. 


The other teams were led by genuine country representatives, Nicolai Sehested for Denmark, and Billy Besson, born in Tahiti, for France (


The eight boats had to fight it over a very tight racecourse in quite strong winds, often at the limit allowed by the race committee. here again the technology of carbon fibre made all this possible, as well as the sponsors, including Oracle (FORTHEFUTURE), who was also a sponsor for the AC American challenger…


And we won’t ask how these celebrated skippers managed to reach Bermuda from their previous racing hub, mostly in New Zealand. 


End of racing fun… Back to the political porkies.




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