Archive for » September 26th, 2013«

Sailing-Thrilling America's Cup a boon for the sport

By Justin Palmer

LONDON (Reuters) – The thrilling climax to the America’s Cup in San Francisco has put the event and sailing “in a strong place commercially”, according to Oracle Team USA tactician Ben Ainslie.

An unlikely comeback by Oracle was capped in the winner-takes-all 19th race on Wednesday when they triumphed after trailing Emirates Team New Zealand 8-1, a stirring comeback that gripped the sporting world for days.

Having had “a little bit of sleep after a good party”, Britain’s four-times Olympic champion Ainslie said Oracle’s battle with the New Zealand team – on giant high-speed catamarans barely skimming the surface in the natural amphitheatre of San Francisco Bay – had riveted a global audience.

“It’s been great for the sport, great for the America’s Cup and great for the future of sailing,” he told Reuters on Thursday before boarding a flight to meet up with friends in New York.

“The number of messages I’ve had from all round the world and especially from home. People have been blown away by the footage of these boats. People who would not have watched sailing before have now taken to it.”

The San Francisco event, with faster yachts that produced the drama that eventually unfolded after what had appeared to be a one-sided series, Ainslie said, had shown it was tailor-made for television.

“It’s becoming more and more commercially viable, we’ve now got the TV networks interested in sailing, wanting to show the America’s Cup.

“It’s a very strong place for us to be commercially now – going forward selling to partners and bringing the costs down to have more teams involved in the future. I know that is one of (Oracle Team USA owner) Larry Ellison’s goals.”

FINANCIAL COST

The huge financial cost of mounting an America’s Cup campaign was evident with just three challengers to Oracle, including the New Zealanders who were supported with about $30 million in government funds.

Ainslie, 36, could find himself competing against Oracle at the next America’s Cup if plans to develop his own racing team Ben Ainslie Racing take off.

Formed last year with the backing of JP Morgan, the Briton is on the lookout for more commercial partners.

“We’d love to have a British team in the future, something I’ve been working on for a while now. We’ve got the talented sailors and designers across the board. Hopefully we can put it together one day.

“JP Morgan have been a great support to the team and me personally and hopefully we can bring in some partners.”

For now, Ainslie is happy to bask in Oracle’s success having joined the fray when the American boat was reeling in the face of a faster rival.

Originally brought in by software mogul Ellison to helm Oracle’s second yacht during training matches, Ainslie replaced American John Kostecki as team tactician.

“I had some weird feeling I may end up in the boat one way or another,” he said.

“No one knew how the relationship would work with (Oracle’s Australian skipper) Jimmy Spithill, and (strategist) Tom Slingsby at the back of the boat.

“We just gelled instantly and it worked incredibly well considering the time we had to prepare – which was zero.”

FRESH FACE

Ainslie said he was propelled into a “tough situation” with morale down.

“We were in a tough situation, we had lost a lot of races. I think that’s why I was brought in.

“I don’t think John Kostecki was doing much wrong. They just needed a fresh face to come in with a different perspective and try and lift everyone’s spirits – to win a few races and get people believing we could still do it.”

What transpired was one of the great comebacks in sport with Oracle, who had been docked two points before the start of the event because of a cheating scandal, chipping away relentlessly at New Zealand’s lead, knowing they had no more margin of error.

“Every day we had to go out there, we were 8-1 down, every day we were absolutely backs to the wall,” he said.

“It’s amazing what focus that kind of pressure brings. Everyday we went out there knowing we had to nail it and we did.”

Ainslie put Oracle’s improvement and ultimate victory down to “better development of the boat” during the event.

“The Kiwis did an amazing job and had an amazing campaign but they maybe stood still a bit through the event whereas we kept pushing to get faster and faster.

“We ultimately became the faster boat and more and more dominant as we went through the series.”

Their eventual dominance was emphasized when Oracle, despite trailing early on, came home 44 seconds ahead in the clinching race to land international sport’s oldest trophy.

“It’s been such a long event, over three weeks of racing,” Ainslie reflected.

“Working to try and get the boat faster and faster. It was an incredible team effort – not just the sailing team. The design team, the shore team all did a great job to get the boat around the track as quickly as possible.”

(Editing by Alison Wildey)


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'Sailing changed forever' after Cup classic: Ellison

San Francisco (AFP) – Billionaire yachtsman Larry Ellison said the thrilling America’s Cup series had changed the face of the sport after his Oracle Team USA completed a miraculous comeback.

The 34th edition of the prestigious yacht race had threatened to descend into chaos earlier this year following the decision to switch to the super-fast AC72 catamarans.

The tragic death of British Olympic gold medalist Andrew “Bart” Simpson during a training run in May heightened concerns over the safety of the boats used for the America’s Cup.

Ellison said however that the move to AC72s had been vindicated by the dramatic finale to the race.

“There was a lot of criticism about these boats,” Ellison said on Wednesday.

“I felt I should keep my mouth shut and let the boats and the sailors demonstrate whether the vision was right or wrong.

“This regatta has changed sailing forever,” Ellison said. “It was the most beautiful regatta I have ever seen.”

Many now wonder if the sport will ever return to using slower yachts.

“This is absolutely off-the-graph,” said Richard Spindler of West Coast sailing magazine Latitude38. “This is the most exciting yacht racing ever seen, inside the Cup or out.”

“I think the AC72s have found a sweet spot with the people,” said regatta director Iain Murray. “They were challenging, exciting, and provided a great platform for these races.”

As winner, Ellison will get to dictate the location and types of boats used in the next America’s Cup.

“I’d love to come back to San Francisco; I have a house here,” Ellison said. “But we are going to sit down and talk to the officials in San Francisco and see if it will be possible to come back.”

He joked that the next Cup would be around the Hawaiian Island of Lanai, which he recently bought.

Ellison, ranked third richest person in the United States due to his business software company Oracle, is believed to have poured more than $100 million into the team.

“It costs about the same to win as to lose, and it is certainly better to win the Cup,” Ellison said while skirting precisely how much he spent to keep the trophy.

“I don’t think anyone thinks about the money.”

He even paid US television giant NBC to broadcast coverage of Cup races.

Ellison packed his team with Olympic gold medal winners and sailing icons such as Russell Coutts and Ben Ainslie.

The technology industry titan, whose personal fortune is estimated at some $40 billion (30.6 billion euros, 26.3 billion pounds) first won the Cup three years ago in Spain.

He brought the regatta to San Francisco, on a tight course bounded by iconic landmarks including Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The financial benefit of the Cup to the city had yet to be tabulated, but climbed as the regatta stretched to an unprecedented 19 days.

More than one million people visited the America’s Cup Park set up on a pier at the race course finish, according to California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, who backed Ellison’s bid for San Francisco host the regatta.

“Team USA’s imagination and innovation democratized a once unreachable sport for the fans by holding the races in San Francisco Bay, developing exciting new technologies and creating a television experience second to none,” Newsom said.


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350-plus boats afloat at Atlantic City marina show

ATLANTIC CITY — Dozens of new sport fishing boats and yachts bobbed gently Wednesday at the docks at Farley State Marina, as workers washed and detailed their glistening white exteriors for the Atlantic City In-Water Power Boat Show.


Perhaps no finishing touch is too small for boats whose price tags are more than most cars.

Some — like the Azimut 64 — has a cabin as large as a living room and a list price of nearly $2.7 million. A sign on the yacht asks browsers to take off their shoes.

The boat show takes place from today through Sunday at the Farley State Marina, where organizers say more than 350 boats will be in the water and on land.

That is 100 boats more than last year, and a sign the economy is improving, said Jerry Flaxman, co-producer of the show.

“The economy is getting better and people feel more secure about themselves … and they’re getting back to do what they enjoy,” he said.

The prices of boats will range from around $20,000 for pontoon boats to high-end yachts in the millions of dollars, he said.

The boating industry took some seriously hard knocks from the economic downturn as sales plummeted from 2007 to 2010 and remained nearly flat in 2011. The industry saw positive signs in 2012

Traditional powerboat sales reached 157,300 boats in 2012, a 10 percent increase from the year before when they reached 312,700, according to the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

Overall unit sales for powerboats are still about half those from 2005, the association says.

The average retail price of a new traditional powerboat last year was $37,140.

“The market we want to see come back is the over 35-feet (boat),” Flaxman said.

Lou Piergross, sales manager for South Jersey Yacht Sales, said the economy somewhat shifted more customers away from bigger boats, which are more expensive and costlier to operate.

Even with a somewhat shaky economy now and high fuel prices, boaters are anxious to get in the water, he said.

 “I see it to the point where people are tired of waiting,” he said. “Even though the stock market is up, business is difficult, fuel prices are up. I think people are tired of waiting,” he said.

“It’s very important to invite your customers and let people see your boats and get a chance to see what you have to offer,” he said of boat shows.

He said spring is still the prime buying season, when about 75 percent of sales take place, but fall offers times to see the new models and make orders for the spring.

“We do get a lot of boats ordered for spring delivery,” he said. “We sell a decent amount at the fall in the shows.”

The upcoming boat show is one of a few big shows that take place in Atlantic City throughout the year.

Each February, the Atlantic City Boat Show takes place at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

At the Atlantic City In-Water Power Boat Show, Flaxman expects 15,000 to 18,000 attendants this year and said about 2,000 tickets were already sold online in advance.

Contact Brian Ianieri:

609-272-7253

BIanieri@pressofac.com


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Ellison says Cup boats, venue could change

Oracle Team USA boss Larry Ellison says the 34th America’s Cup “has changed sailing forever” but he can’t guarantee whether the same boats, venue or format will return for the 35th edition.

A two-month regatta ended on a captivating note when Oracle retained the Auld Mug by beating Team NZ 9-8 in the final after trailing 1-8.

Footage of two evenly-matched, giant catamarans jousting at speeds greater than 40 knots was a quantum leap for sailing and captured a global audience.

However, that must be weighed up against the enormous cost of the boats which reduced the size of the challenger field to just three for what is the sport’s biggest prize.

Several lopsided races in the challenger series and long delays caused by wind and television requirements spoiled the event.

The biggest blow was the pre-regatta training capsize of Swedish challenger Artemis, resulting in the death of British sailor Andrew Simpson.

Ellison says Simpson’s death was his worst moment after deciding to introduce the class but he was confident the regatta could still be a success.

“I was very upset, as was everyone on our team and in the sailing community. These boats were meant to be extreme but they certainly weren’t meant to be life-threatening,” he said.

“It was up to the guys to show what these boats are like on the water and let the people judge what we have done and whether the vision was right or wrong.”

US technology billionaire Ellison says huge television viewing figures for the first race of the final helped him justify his decision, as did the subsequent storyline of the final.

“This regatta has changed sailing forever,” he said.

“We tried to make sailing a bit more extreme and friendlier for a viewing audience.

“I think a lot of people who weren’t interested in sailing, suddenly got interested in sailing.”

Ellison says criticism from Team NZ boss Grant Dalton and others that the cost of the boats is too high is valid.

That will be reviewed, along with the venue for the next America’s Cup.

“It’s no secret that these boats are expensive and we’d like to have more countries competing next time so we’d like to figure out how to accomplish both.

“And San Francisco is a great backdrop for a sailboat race but it’s something we’ll need to talk about as a group before deciding if we come back here again.”

NZN


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Strong’s Marine Seeks Sales Manager – Boats/F&I

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Strong’s Marine Seeks Sales Manager – Boats/FI

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Strong’s Marine Seeks Sales Manager – Boats/FI


Posted on 25 September 2013


MARINE SALES MANAGER – BOATS/FI

Strong’s Marine is seeking a proven professional to lead our dynamic sales team.   Responsibilities include growing boat sales, maximizing company profitability and delivering exceptional customer service before, during and after every sale.   Sales Manager will develop and implement processes for the sales team to ensure an effective sales approach and a high level of client care in every interaction.

The ideal candidate will have 5+ years managerial experience in a high-volume, full-service environment, with background in sales, training and/or finance.   Individual should be energetic, goal-oriented, and should thrive on building customer relationships.   Outstanding organizational, communication and leadership skills are required, along with an unquestionable level of integrity and a commitment to customer service.  Degree preferred.  A passion for boating is a must! 

Sales Manager will oversee 4 sales locations across Long Island and report to our Sales Director.  Strong’s offers a positive work environment and a great team atmosphere.  Ongoing training is provided to encourage employee growth.  Our competitive compensation package includes health insurance, matching 401K and profit sharing.  Salary commensurate with experience; substantial bonus opportunities available. 

Strong’s Marine has provided personal service to our boat sales and service clients on Long Island and the New York region since 1945.   We have been ranked #1 in the Northeast among Boating Industry’s Top 100 Dealers for “unsurpassed customer service and professionalism”; we were also named the first Marine 5-Star Certified Dealer on Long Island for our “commitment to maintaining higher standards in client service.”   We represent Cobalt, Pursuit, Regal and Absolute Yachts as well as offering a large selection of Pre-Enjoyed inventory.  For more on Strong’s, see www.strongsmarine.com.

For consideration, please email resume and cover letter to Jeff Strong:
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Submitted materials will be treated in strict confidence.

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Sailing-Capping an epic comeback, Oracle wins the America's Cup

By Jonathan Weber

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 25 (Reuters) – Oracle Team USA prevailed in a dramatic winner-take-all showdown with Emirates Team New Zealand on Wednesday to win the 34th America’s Cup, completing a stirring comeback that helped make the once-troubled event among the most exciting in sailing history.

For Oracle and its hard-charging skipper, Australian Jimmy Spithill, the win was an extraordinary sporting triumph, one that saw the team climb back from a seemingly insurmountable 8-1 deficit in the best-of-17 series to keep the trophy it won three years ago.

The thrilling final races were also a ringing vindication of Oracle owner Larry Ellison‘s controversial decision to transform a once-staid yachting event into a TV-friendly, extreme-sports spectacle featuring huge high-speed catamarans that might draw a new generation of enthusiasts to sailing.

Emirates Team New Zealand, a plucky challenger that lacked a billionaire sponsor but nonetheless sailed to the brink of Cup victory, must now endure the ignominy of having let the prize slip from its grasp after a grueling two-year campaign of boat development and training that unfolded almost exactly as planned until the final days.

Oracle dominated the last race, showcasing the dramatic improvement in boat speed on the upwind leg of the race that began to emerge a week ago. Oracle seemed to find an extra gear after losing most of the early races, and even overcame a pre-match penalty that required it win 11 races on the water.

“On your own you’re nothing, but with a team like this around you, they can make you look great,” Spithill said after the race.

Just a week ago, New Zealand fans had all but begun celebrating what seemed like an inevitable sporting and economic windfall for the longtime international sailing power, which supported the team with about $30 million in government funds in the hopes of bringing the trophy – and attendant tourism and publicity – back home.

But on Wednesday it was Ellison who was celebrating, joining the crew on the boat for a champagne shower in the moments after the finish.

GRIPPING SPECTACLE

Fans who flocked to the San Francisco bayfront by the tens of thousands for the final races were treated to a little bit of everything: tense on-the-water duels, a near-capsize, winds that were alternately too light and too strong, and even a whale that threatened to disrupt racing.

Until just a few weeks ago, the summer-long series of America’s Cup events looked like a monumental bust. A British Olympic champion sailing for the Swedish team was killed in a training accident in May, calling the safety of the boats into question and forcing contentious rule changes.

New Zealand completely dominated the Louis Vuitton challenger series, which featured only three competitors and saw some “races” with only one boat charging around the course. A cheating scandal erupted, with Oracle ultimately being docked two races and losing a key crew member as punishment for illegal boat modifications in a preliminary series.

In San Francisco, many locals bristled at city support for what has often been derided as a rich man’s yacht race.

Controversies aside, Oracle seemed to have a competitive edge early on, with the home-team advantage and enough money to hire top sailors and build two equally matched boats to train against one another. Its team was distinctly international, with New Zealander Russel Coutts, who led the Kiwis to Cup victory in 1995 and 2000, serving as CEO and Spithill as the skipper.

Only one American was among the Oracle crew at the finish.

When only three challengers proved willing to take on the cost and complexity of the 72-foot carbon fiber yachts, Oracle’s chances looked even better – though it faced criticism that the dearth of competitors had made hosting the event a bad financial deal for San Francisco.

But the Kiwis, led by a 56-year-old managing director, Grant Dalton, who doubled as a workhorse on-board “grinder” during races, proved ingenious in developing their boat, particularly in pioneering the use of hydrofoils that lift both hulls almost entirely of the water to reduce drag.

Skipper Dean Barker steered nearly flawless races through most of the competition as New Zealand first crushed the Italian team, Luna Rossa, in the challenger series, and then dominated Oracle in the early races of the Cup finals.

But now the America’s Cup, with its rich history of dueling tycoons, gamesmanship and cutting-edge boat technology, appears firmly headed in Ellison’s innovative direction. Not since Australia ended the United States’ 132-year-long grip on the oldest trophy in sports in 1983 has the competition taken such a sharp turn.


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