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BMW ORACLE Racing Team Blog
Tom EhmanWelcome to the BMW ORACLE Racing Team Blog, periodic postings and postulations for our families, friends and fans as we pursue with passion our challenge for the 32nd America's Cup.

In June 2005, the BMW ORACLE Racing Team Blog was born. The enthusiastic response we have received since then has encouraged us to continue the Blog this year. The BMW ORACLE Racing Team, which has over 140 members worldwide, would like to give anyone interested the opportunity to get a closer look at the personal stories surrounding our team and the people involved. While we are professionals on a mission to win the Cup, there is a human-interest side to all that. And in many ways our team is like an extended family.

We would like to share with you our passion for sailing, the motivation it takes to meet difficult challenges, and some of our trials and tribulations.

"We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came." --USA President John F. Kennedy, at a dinner for the crews in Newport, RI on the eve of the 1962 America's Cup Match.

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This is a Test Post  Jun 13, 11:19

Testing the
facility to post by email, including photos.

Odds and Ends, and a New Beginning  Feb 15, 17:28

SERVER SWAP. Okay, that was painless. The server swap was achieved a day earlier than expected so the BOB has now been given a new lease on life. By the way, this swap has been in the works for a long time. It was executed as planned and ahead of schedule, and will improve our ability to serve our steadily growing readership. The swap was not connected to problems you may have seen over on our main team website the past couple days (which, thankfully, appear to be behind us). Once again, our thanks to Roland Neubauer at SMS, and the teams at and Knallgrau for all their good efforts on our behalf.

MILESTONE. When I checked the Sitemeter a few minutes ago, we are at 99,945 visitors since we started the BOB in June 2005. In the next few hours likely we will click past the milestone 100,000 mark. Thanks again to all of you for your continuing interest.

BRUNO. Congrats to our old friend Bruno Trouble who, it was announced yesterday, will be inducted into the AC Hall of Fame at a gala dinner here in VLC this June. There is a story posted about all that over on the Challenger Commission Blog that I know some of you will enjoy reading.

NICE PHOTOS. Thanks to Steve Wilson (NZL, design team) for the appetizing photos, below, that he took before leaving NZL a couple weeks ago. We appreciate it any time someone from the team augments the snapping for the blog otherwise usually carried out by the pro/am team of Gilles Martin-Raget (FRA, team photographer) and your Ed. No question who is the amateur in that duo.

A Saturday barbecue lunch for the hard-working shore team served up by team chef Ben Harland at our temporary base in Auckland a couple weeks back.

As Stevo said, "Eating well in NZ. Fresh scallops and Hapuka fillets…nice!"

Server Swap  Feb 13, 16:20

housekeepingFirst, there is a nice photo-story about of USA 61, which is now on display here in Valencia outside our Team Base, over on the Valencia Sailing site. As always, our thanks to VS editor Pierre Orphanidis for his continuing good efforts to promote all the teams involved in AC 32, including ours.

Second, am pleased to report that our web guru in Munich, Roland Neubauer (which, in German, appropriately enough means "new builder") is working with our webhost Knallgrau to build a few new features into our Blogsite -- including a fix for the comment spamming, so that comments soon can be turned back on.

Finally, this afternoon Roland tells me that, over the next couple days, the BOB is migrating to a new server. During this period we will suffer the blogger's syndrome known, not so politely, as postus-interruptus. Please pardon our virtual dust; we should be fully back on the air and posting again by Friday. Thanks for your patience.

Until Friday: postus-interruptus.

New Zealand Farewell  Feb 13, 10:23

Our Deputy Downunder Correspondent , Ivor Wilkins, checks in with this photo essay from a team gathering in Auckland this (Tuesday) evening....

The occasion was a farewell for the team organised by Mark Gilbert, Chief Executive of BMW New Zealand. Friends and family gathered at the Pontoon Bar on the Auckland waterfront for a pleasant get-together and to watch a slide presentation of the Auckland sailing sessions compiled by photographer Gilles Martin-Raget.

The mood was upbeat after a great Auckland sailing session where the weather has provided a perfect range of conditions for preparing for Valencia. In the final week of sailing, the team has already far exceeded the sailing schedule, thanks to no days lost to unsailable conditions.

Mark Gilbert bade farewell to the team. "It has been great to have the team sailing here in Auckland," he said. "We are now getting to the business end of a very long campaign. I have been greatly impressed with a team of people that live and work so closely together 24/7. The ability afterwards to gather at a function like this and talk about life indicates to me that there is tremendous passion in this team to win and to represent their sponsors in the best possible way."

Skipper and CEO Chris Dickson responded with a heartfelt thanks to Mark and the New Zealand BMW team for being part of the family, and for going the extra distance to help make the team's session in New Zealand so successful.
--Ivor Wilkins

Tonight's farewell for the team at the Pontoon in Auckland, kindly organized by Mark Gilbert, CEO of BMW New Zealand.

Kristen Sneyd (NZL, admin team) and Aimee Daniel (USA, sailing team admin).

BMW NZ's Leslie Acutt with crew manager and sailing team member Craig Monk (NZL).

Heidi and Jon "Z" Ziskind (USA, sailing team) with new son Crue.

Business Director Russell Green (NZL) with BMW New Zealand CEO Mark Gilbert.

Mark "Tugboat" Turner (NZL, boat construction manager) with Skipper/CEO Chris Dickson (NZL).

2007's Top Ten Travel Destinations  Feb 12, 14:40

Valencia makes the Hartford Courant's list on the strength of the America's Cup.

Lovely Rita, Meter Maid Madame Mayor, has put VLC on the travel map for 2007.

Q&A: How Long is the Race Course?  Feb 11, 00:05

q-a3Our old friend Kimball Livingston of San Francisco, a veteran yachting and Cup journalist and longtime member of the venerable St Francis YC, emailed us today saying that the upcoming issue of SAIL Magazine (for which he writes) will have a primo special section on the America's Cup. We look forward to seeing it. In the meantime, Kim asked a question the answer to which may interest some of you....

Q: How long will the race course be during the Louis Vuitton Cup, and will it be the same for the AC Match?

A: The course length is variable between 8.6 and 12.6 nautical miles. The configuration is the same for the LVC and Match, and we expect the maximum length course normally to be used for the LVC Semis and Finals as well as the AC Match.

The LVC Notice of Race was published by Regatta Director Dyer Jones on New Year's Eve. Among many other things, it covers details of the race course that the Race Committee will use. The NOR for the AC 32 Match (between the ultimate Challenger and the Defender Alinghi) is out in draft form but has yet to be finalized. However, because of the draft and well-known TV time constraints, we know how the course for the Match will sort out as well. Overall:

+ LVC and AC Match courses will always be four-leg, windward-leewards, same as for all the Acts. The first and last legs are .3 nautical miles longer than legs two and three because the gate (which ends leg two) is set .3nm to windward of the start/finish line.

+ Overall the RC is aiming for a race to last about 90 minutes -- this to fit into a two-hour TV show including an intro, the pre-start, and a post-race show -- to hit that targe the RC will vary the length of the course according to wind strength.

+ For Round Robin 1 of the LVC, the courses will need to be shorter to have time to sail the scheduled two two races per day. Under the rules, in light air they could be as short as 8.6nm (a 2.3nm first leg). Probably more like 2.8nm on a normal Valencia 10-14 knot afternoon. Longer if its windier.

+ In RR2, the Semifinals and Finals of the LVC, when only one race per day is scheduled, you can expect the races to be longer than in RR1. The maximum length permitted under the NOR is 12.6nm (a 3.3nm first leg). The 12.6nm course will be the norm in the Match, hence we Challengers have asked the RC to try to use it as much as possible during the LVC Semis and Finals to get the Challengers practiced up for it -- the exceptions being if we have encounter several days of bad weather and, God forbid, have to go back to running two races a day to finish up the Semis or Finals on time, or on a light air day when there is only 7 knots or so of breeze).

By comparison, in Auckland we normally sailed three-lap courses of slightly more than 18 miles.

The three-lap race course used in 2003. For 2007, it's the same windward-leeward configuration but only two laps, and the leeward mark has been replaced by a "gate".

Nice Ink: Craig Monk On Calling Spain "Home"  Feb 10, 23:51

From the New Zealand's Sunday Star Times, a nice article by Greg Ford on sailing team manager Craig Monk (NZL)....

Yachting's Monk makes habit of calling Spain home
Kiwi sailor Craig Monk feels like a visitor when he's in his home town, Auckland.

He has been on the road for so long now, chasing his America's Cup dream, when asked where home is he answers "Spain".

"I have been trying to get out of this job ever since I got into in back in 1995," he jokes.

It wasn't always that way.

Monk was part of the victorious New Zealand America's Cup challenge in 1995 and the defence off Auckland in 2000.

He defected to OneWorld in 2003 and jumped ship again when the Larry Ellison-owned Oracle syndicate came calling. More than 50% of Oracle's sailing team, who wear the stars and stripes, are New Zealanders.

It's a staggering stat, which Monk takes some pride in.

He still has the trademark physique - giant shoulders and tree trunk arms - which signpost the fact he's a grinder.

But these days he carries a clipboard and strapped to his belt is a phone.

Yes, he has moved into management and played a part in the strong Kiwi influence in Oracle.

Full story

Sail Mail: Weekly Report from Auckland  Feb 10, 20:13

The rig and shore teams’ speedy recovery from Thursday's mast breakage on USA 71 had the guys back on the water Friday morning. With a new rig into the yacht by 0900, the sailing team did not miss a beat as Dicko & Co. logged another day of two-boat sailing on the Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand.

“We continue to push technology boundaries so while we never want to break our equipment, it can happen in the ongoing development process,” CD explained. “These boats have such complex parts now that one small failure or breakage can trigger a catastrophic rig failure. We’ve been pushing these boats hard. It’s been two years since we last broke a rig in Valencia. We learned from that and we will learn from this as well. It is reassuring to know that if gear failure does occur, we are prepared to deal with it.”

As reported on the team web site on Thursday, USA 71, suffered some damage to the mast while in a race training session. USA 71 was racing in 15 knots of breeze downwind during an in-house training session when the top of the rig collapsed. The guys have been pushing these boats hard and we would rather learn the lesson now than during the Louis Vuitton Cup.

This was a race rig so we are disappointed as the piece that broke should not have broken, but we are pleased we discovered this weak link now during our race training. Sten Mohr, Bertrand Pace and the crew on board USA 71 showed great seamanship by responding quickly, minimizing the damage and getting the boat and crew safely back to shore.

Within 15 minutes of Thursday’s mishap, the New Zealand media were calling the base to confirm the reports that had been called in from the public who saw the top of the rig collapse. The New Zealand public is so tuned in to the America’s Cup that the media immediately learned of the mishap and it became a lead news item here Friday. A photo of the damaged rig ran on the front page of the New Zealand Herald, and TV crews were down at the base early that morning as we headed out for another day of training.

Thursday evening, the mast break notwithstanding, the team was hosted to a wonderful reception at BMW Team McMillan here in Auckland for the launch of Girard-Perregaux’s timepiece collection in the New Zealand market. Chris and Russell Green provided the 180 guests an update on the programme as Girard-Perregaux officially launched the brand here. It was a great evening attended b many of New Zealand’s movers and shakers and media luminaries. The team blog carried a behind-the-scenes report.

The guys are not sailing over the weekend so we will finish out this session with five days on the water next week. We will provide a report when the sailing session wraps next Friday.

--Jane Eagleson (USA)

Epilogue: New Zealand Herald's sailing writer Julie Ash told Jane on Friday that the mast breaking article was the most read story on their website that day, outstripping even Anna Nicole's death -- and the NZH site is the most read website in NZ.

Fast turnaround: Shore team manager Tim Hacket (NZL) had a long night Thursday, but was the man of the hour along with his very capable team, including...

...rigger Pete Waymouth (NZL).

Nice Web Statistics -- Update  Feb 10, 18:06

From time to time ACM publishes the webstats for the official site, Below is a chart of the total number of referrals per month from their site to the various team sites. Nice to see that BMWOR continues to get more "click-throughs" from the
ACM site than any other team, including Alinghi. The "Total" column is for all months from July '05, and BMWOR has led every month, not that we're competing. ;)

Nice web stats: BMWOR leads the other teams in click-throughs. (As usual click on the graphic to enlarge.)

Maritime, and Marketing, Milestones  Feb 8, 10:28

First a bit of a maritime milestone, brought to you by our timing partner....

Seafaring and watch making have enjoyed a long, shared history. For many years now, GIRARD-PERREGAUX has been celebrating John Harrison’s invention of the maritime chronometer in the 18th century.

The inability to determine a ship’s exact position at sea posed major problems not only for the British Navy but for all its rivals as well. For centuries, sailors had been able to calculate their latitudinal position at sea by observing the stars. Longitude, however, proved to be a much thornier dilemma. That was why the British Parliament launched a contest in 1714 with a grand prize of £20,000 (the equivalent of several million today) for the ingenious person who could come up with a practical, workable solution to the problem of determining a ship’s longitude at sea with reasonable accuracy.

The winner of this contest, with a solution based on accurate chronometers, was watchmaker John Harrison, who won out over scientists and astronomers. The partnership between seafaring and watches had been established.

Speaking of milestones, one was achieved Downunder this (Thursday) evening as Girard-Perregaux was officially launched in the NZ marketplace by GP's Steve Rom at a function hosted by Team McMillan BMW in Auckland. In NZ, GP is being carried by Partridge Jewellers. Earlier in the day, Mr Rom had been the VIP "18th crew" aboard USA-71, which suffered some damage to her mast [story on our main team website].

This evening Steve took some good-natured teasing from the team about being the only change on the boat from past days, so obviously it was his fault! Of course it wasn't, and regardless he was impressed enough with the day's experience, and especially the seamanship of 71's crew in handling the situation, that tonight he offered his own very expensive Girard-Perregaux watch in a bet that BMW ORACLE would win the Cup. Our sources did not report whether he had any takers. ;)

Dicko and Australasian entrepreneur (and head of the Girard-Perregaux brand Downunder) Steve Rom, in Auckland this evening at Team McMillan BMW for the launch of GP in NZ.

Queen at the Gate  Feb 7, 10:55

This week another Queen arrived in San Francisco, and for the first time -- Queen Mary 2. The website reported, "The hulking QM2 was the largest ship to ever enter San Francisco Bay. On Sunday afternoon, the 1,132-foot-long, 150,000-ton ocean liner made maritime history by going under the Golden Gate bridge with just 27 feet to spare."

Spectacular SF Bay scenery -- and what a spectator fleet, even on a cool day in February.

Challenger Commission Meeting Report  Feb 5, 22:43

There is an extensive post now up on the Challenger Commission Blog covering the main decisions and other points of discussion from last week's CC Meetings. It's a bit heavy on rules and politics, but some of our readers who do not otherwise regularly check that site may find at least some of the info interesting if not also useful.

The AC 32 Challenger Commission: eleven challengers from a record nine countries.

Happy Waitangi Day  Feb 5, 21:21

Today marks the 167th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, New Zealand's founding document, in 1840. Happy Waitangi Day to all of Kiwi colleagues, families and friends.

The Endless Summer  Feb 5, 10:56

jesmOur Downunder Correspondent, Jane Eagleson, checks in with this update from Auckland Monday evening their time, with this excerpt from the Sail Mail newsletter that is emailed to our partners, family and friends around the world:

The calendar has turned to February and the countdown continues as we get closer and closer to the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup. The team is in final stages of preparation in all areas of the program and the momentum is building.

The goal for the sailing team is to leave New Zealand race-ready. The guys have been logging long days on the Hauraki Gulf with USA 71 and USA 98. The excellent New Zealand conditions have given the team the chance to sail USA 98 in a full spectrum of conditions from the 5-7 knots through to 28. While there is still plenty of work to do, Chris and the crew are feeling upbeat about where they are, and are pleased with the amount of time they have had together on the water during this winter training session. The focus is on race training as the guys push each other daily in practice starts and in-house races. Sten Mohr (DEN) has been driving USA 71 as the tune-up helmsman for the Chris and crew on USA 98.

We are on a six-day-a-week program, making the most of the time we have here. Scotty Crawford and Paul Wallbank get the guys to the gym at 0630 to jump-start their day. Ben Harland and Harry Lynskey cook up a storm in the morning to get crawfordboth breakfast and lunch ready. The boats are launched and prepared for the day’s sailing, and by 1030 the guys are off the dock. Some evenings they are not back before 1900, but one of the beauties of the New Zealand summer is having daylight until after 2100 -- so we are making the most of these long summer days.

The forecast calls for strong winds tomorrow (Tuesday) so the team has called a vltrophymaintenance day. Periodic maintenance days are important to ensure the boats are well-serviced to avoid breakdowns.

Today, the fans of American football on the sailing team asked those on shore to stay mum on the results of the Super Bowl. The game was taped and we will be gathering after work to watch the game together.

We are very pleased that BMW New Zealand and Girard-Perregaux have teamed up here in Auckland to host a reception later this week. Girard-Perregaux is new to the 2995_base_big_prNZ market, and will take the opportunity of the team’s presence here to launch the brand, alongside BMW, and with the support of their NZ retailer, Partridge Jewellers. Girard-Perregaux will preview the limited edition BMW ORACLE Racing collection of Swiss timepieces at Team McMillan BMW on Thursday evening, with many of our team members here attending the event.

Meanwhile back in Valencia, updates to USA 87 are underway in preparation for our two-boating there in March. And the marketing team is in full swing finalizing the VIP guest program for the Louis Vuitton Cup. With 10,000 guests expected during the April-June racing, Mirko and his team have plenty to do in preparation for our sponsor-partners and guests.

Hard to believe that two months from today we'll be in the middle of Act 13, with only eleven days to the start of the LVC.

Tune-up helmsman Sten Mohr (DEN) has been doing a good job driving USA-71.

Summer in the Southern Hemisphere. Soon it will be back to Valencia for the final installment, at least for this edition of the Cup, of The Endless Summer.

Spam  Feb 5, 06:50

20040203-spamThe BOB is under attack by spam 'bots (short for "robots") -- automated internet software that adds "spam" (unwanted ads and other information) to a website.

In the past few months the amount of spam being automatically posted as "comments" here on the BOB has increased dramatically -- more than a dozen per day, somethimes that many in an hour -- and most of the spam are links to sites that are not exactly, shall we say, family friendly.

You probably are not even aware of it, as your Ed. and our intrepid webmaster, Roland Neubauer, have so far managed to delete them almost as fast as they were posted -- at least during our waking hours.

In the past week it's gotten to the point where we spending far too much time each day deleting these nasties. So we have decided to shut down the ability for anyone -- or anything -- to post "comments" here on the BOB until a suitable software prophylactic against the 'bots can be installed.

We regret having to take this step. Your comments, while not numerous, have usually been insightful and fun. Our goal is to have the commenting facility turned back on before the start of racing in April. Thanks for your understanding.

Thrill of a Lifetime? Or Only a Matter of Time??  Feb 4, 18:50

BMW NZ was a sponsor of the 420 Worlds hosted in Takapuna (on Auckland's North Shore) last month. In special recognition of the effort by everyone involved in hosting by what all accounts was a great event, our team offered an 18th man slot for the prizegiving. The winner was drawn by lot from from among the NZ sailors who competed in the Worlds.

Adrian Short, 17, of Warkworth (one hour up the coast from Auckland) was the lucky winner. Adrian enjoys match racing and has competed at the Governor’s Cup (which, by the way, Gavin Brady won in 1990), an international youth match racing championship held at Balboa YC in California. A sailor since age 11 when he started in the Starling class, Adrian was thrilled at the chance to be on board an America’s Cup Class race boat. “It was great seeing really good sailors in action and having a good look at the boats.”

You have to wonder if the photo below, in the same vein as the famous shot of teenager Bill Clinton meeting President John F Kennedy, will someday show up on the website of an AC team of which Adrian is a member....

Special moment: One of the 58 young Kiwis competing at the 420 Worlds at Auckland in January, Adrian Short took his sail with the team last Saturday. How many kids get to go as 18th crew on an ACC yacht, let alone steer it with one of his sailing heroes, Gavin Brady (NZL), serving as tactician?