All the way through its 156-year history, the America’s Cup has been a story written by powerful and ambitious people caught up in the passion of an event that offers no prize money, but enormous prestige.
Now, in the 32nd America’s Cup, it is no different and the owners of teams caught up in the quest for international sport’s oldest trophy represent a small and rarefied club. Larry Ellison, CEO of the software giant Oracle and owner of the BMW ORACLE Racing team, is an accomplished yachtsman who loves to participate fully in the sport. He is a member of the team afterguard and regularly takes the helm during racing.
As USA-98 made its debut in Round Robin One of the Louis Vuitton Cup yesterday, Ellison had long sessions at the wheel in both matches against United Internet Team Germany and China Team. 'He did a nice job,' said tactician Gavin Brady.
'He did some great mark roundings and we made good gains while he was on the wheel. For somebody who had not driven one of these yachts since last year, he did really well to step right up and get in the groove straight away.'
Earlier in this new Cup season, Ellison spoke about his own passion for the event. 'I enjoy being part of the team,' he said during the owners’ media conference. 'There are 150 people on BMW ORACLE Racing. There is great camaraderie. It is great to be part of a group effort. It is a fabulous event.
'Relationships are built both on your team and with the competition that last a lifetime. These are the finest sailing teams in the world and I am very proud to be part of it.'
Later, back at the team base, he expanded on the theme. 'I like going out sailing every day. It is a humbling experience sailing with the best sailors in the world. It is an extraordinary experience and a very important part of my life. I love the relationships that I have built in the competition.
'There is nothing like competing and discovering your own limits, whatever they are,' he said.
On his approach to tackling the Louis Vuitton and America’s Cups, he said it was important to take it one race at a time. 'It is a marathon. It is not a sprint. Each race is only an hour or so, but it is the four years before that counts. All the work, thought, and effort over that time puts us in a position to win that one hour race – and the next one and the next one…'
Ellison said sailing talent alone was not enough to succeed in these events. Given a choice between talent on one side and will, effort and hard work on the other, he would pick effort every time.
'It helps to have talent as well,' he added. 'Combine talent with effort, hard work and determination – that absolute refusal to give up – and it is amazing how lucky you can get on race day. We have done the hard work. We have prepared. We have what looks like a phenomenal boat in USA 98. We have a great overall team. I am very optimistic it will all pay off.'