Tag Archives: America’s Cup San Francisco

Big Bad Boats


Rocket Science a mini-monster from the Cook Islands.

This is 50 feet, water ballasted, twin ruddered, carbon fibered, wickedly fast boat with a 13 foot draft!!!!

I stepped aboard a monster Sunday. The beast tethered to a dock. Sixty-five feet of ocean going, purpose built, go anywhere, under any conditions sailboat.

The beast had been born inNew Zealandto an American couple. For eight years this water ballasted ballistic sailing vessel was both a means to an end and an end in itself.

The design was conceived with a lengthy and sleek hard dodger. The stick was massive, the spreaders gargantuan, staysail could be hanked on, and the jib roller furled. Temporary lower backstays were ready in the event the staysail was deployed.

Oversized winches were aft, a weight compromising windlass on the bow (looked more than adequate for the job while small enough not to interfere with the boats sailing characteristics.) And I have to mention the spinnaker pole stowed vertically against the leading edge of the mast.

A mere man and woman, two people handled the task of sailing this unrelenting powerhouse. Losing control of a boat this size, flogging a sail, jamming a line, getting a sail down, hoisting one up, furling an unfurled sail, or having the guts to unfurl the thing was akin to going into a war zone voluntarily.

At the center on the starboard side below a diesel heater had been installed. There was a huge generator, a larger still auxiliary diesel. Forward in the V berth a queen sized bed. The boats interior was not Spartan, but its purpose was the point. Navigation, cooking, electronics, the heads, showers, rear stateroom, the interior lighting, portlights were all what you would expect of this one of fiberglass Titan.

I was imagining the able bodied seamen I’d want with me should I’d found myself heading out the Gate on an ebb in a blow. I’d pick a couple of old coots the balance would come broad shouldered, under forty and be either crazy or have guts, preferably both!

In 2003 I was down inFt.Lauderdale. Wandering the docks I stumbled upon a brokerage that specialized in selling sailboats of this size. They were all beasts. You looked at one and said I could take that boat right now to Europe, that other up the Northwest passage, still another toAntarctica. There were a few tender looking boats mixed among the toughie’s, and then there was this one I was aboard yesterday.

It is something special to be aboard something that resembles what you would use to get you through your worst nightmare. It is something like how you would travel to somewhere over a rainbow intent upon arriving back from a dream you would be wise not to make.

Is that a merry-go-round or Secretariat…

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I Feel So Sorry for Billionaires

It's not much, but I was happy

Banque Populaire is currently blasting south in the Atlantic towardCape Hornin an attempt to set a new non-stop circumnavigation record for a sailboat. The skipper is with Team Energy the French America’s Cup boat.

I don’t often deal with a realm that is described by numbers. The sailboat Banque Populaire is 131 feet in length has already set a 24 hour total distance sailed world record of 908 miles. The machine sails consistently at speeds of 36 to 40 knots plus!

I’ve taken a look on You Tube and the boat rocks, and it can also flip and in fact tripped and went head over heels on itself. The crew is aware that this is a dangerous game they are playing.

Speaking of ungraspable, mind boggling, hard to get your mind around numbers we have to discuss the Oracle Team and the great fortune of Larry Ellison. I get 33 billion off the Forbes website. So, if I were street performing and had someone give me one billion dollars in one dollar bills in my hat and I were able count each dollar in an average of one second it would take me 31 years, 259 days, 1 hour, 46 minutes and 40 seconds to finish counting my hat. Larry has 33 of these things called billions.

Sometimes I wonder about things while I’m in bed or on a hike. I wonder what it might be like to be a wealthy sailing fan and what it might be like to fund a program to defend the America’ Cup? I wonder if I would be bothered about how much it was going to cost to play the game. If I had 33 of these things called billion and figure the entire deal was going to run maybe 200 million, okay let’s say 500 million all in, every last penny… it would mean I’d still have about 16 years to count the rest of what was left of my first billion.

You have to almost feel something like empathy for someone like Larry Ellison. It can’t be easy checking on how much you have given how long it takes to get someone to count it and tell you. Probably why he spends his money distracting himself from this problem, probably the way to go is just get involved in something, get your mind off this problem, and enjoy yourself. I think last time I saw Larry, down inSan   Diegohe was doing just that, enjoying himself.

Good luck Larry. I hope you don’t get burdened with anymore of these billions. It must at some point incapacitate a person. No wonder Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are giving their money away. It’s hard for us to imagine, but if you try you can begin to appreciate how good you have it compared to these poor guys.

BANKRUPT HEART                             THE SECOND NOVEL

“Hey, slick,” the homeless man said, “I know you?”

            Ry stopped. “Maybe,”

            “Yeah, I know you, you’re like me, don’t have a job.”

            Ry pulled some cash out of his pocket.

            “Oh, man, you keep it,” the homeless man said, “you need it, you get a job come look me up,”

            “I got a job. I’m going to work in LA,”

            “You can’t go to LA, you’re Ry Waters right, people fromSan Franciscocan’t go toLos Angelesand be happy, isn’t possible.”

            “Sure we can. I can go toSouthern Californiaand be just happy as anywhere.”

            “You don’t want to go down there and have those bastards get to you. They’ll just turn you into one of them,”

            “Well, I appreciate your sage advice…”

            “They can’t pay you enough, you won’t be happy enough, you got soul brother. How does a brother who’s got soul get happy in a place without one?”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith


The End is Near and Dear

We shape nature in our own likeness

Refurbishing a wooden sloop for the first time is an act of faith.

So, first off forget about having things go according to plan. It is like the rest of life things don’t usually go that way. Life goes its way and you try to ride the wave or get the hell out of the way. This is the Lee Iacocca maxim.

Working over a long time horizon is an odd experience. I like my work to be completed as soon as is possible. I don’t like things to take long.

The lessons we think we are learning are in fact seldom the same as the received wisdom the experience imparts upon our lives. In fact I am coming to terms with the fact that while I start out doing one thing I end up doing something else by the time the thing is finished.

Fix a boat, copyright for the second novel

I probably would not have been capable of writing a novel, and now two, had I not struggled from 2001 through 2007 with the restoration of Maestro. But, that would be too narrow, too scrawny an answer for what happened during those years to me as a person

Authoring novels is first of all about writing. But, it is also about understanding people. It is about soul, spirit, personality, behavior, youth, aging, the middle years, being single, having a job, falling in love, getting married, remaing single, your sexuality, friends, family, weather, where you live, what you do, and on and on… Narratives are constructed by events. Any event will do so long as the author has the passion to place the reader into the center of that moment and pull the curtain back on how that moment impacts the people who have been brought to life in the story.

Fates Long Shadow

So, whether we roam about in travel trailers performing a juggling show, or spend our best days laboring to restore a wooden sailboat, writers imagine patterns, we see into the fabric of reality the workings of human experience and from there we take a leap of faith, and build out that vision, that story that we see and then we serve that vision up to our readers.

And finally the circular firing squad of paradox aligns with boat restoration and authoring a novel. We won’t know until we’ve put everything we have into the thing whether it will float and hold water or will sink and vanish into the depths… Life is not just good, it is also an unpredictable pain in the…

As much as I might not always like living in a world where everything I try doesn’t succeed, every game I play I don’t always win, and everybody I ever loved never leaves, the truth and secret to a well lived life is to appreciate not how it turns out in the end, but what you can do to make the doing something worthy of being an end in itself. Here to my way of thinking is the trailhead to authenticity.

Little Dog Big Heart

BANKRUPT HEART                        THE SECOND NOVEL

          Tonight was a private after hours, members only affair, whiskey drank like sacrament. The men had gathered for this random ritual over the years. They cussed, drank, sucked on toothpicks, and blotted out whole stretches of time before dawn trading stories for laughs based on the cheap thrills and the numbskull miscalculations of others. Tonight was different. One of their own had taken a blow. They’d conjure up preferential sympathies. The men would ignore the hypocrisy.

You’ve Got to See it With Your Own Eyes

Could You Just Come A Little Closer Darling...

I went once for a look at the Race for the Pole at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Whatever it is I was supposed to see I saw. Whatever I expected the experience to be like turned out to be true.

The pig barn at the county fair stinks. The top fuel dragsters in Fremont smoked their slicks, shot flames out their exhaust pipes, and roared down the quarter-mile long asphalt raceway in the blink of an eye only to pop a parachute at the other end of the strip to bring them to a controlled halt.

Now comes this thing called the oldest trophy in sport, the America’s Cup. I thought the racing off Perth looked pretty darn exciting. I watched some of the racing from the comfort of a stool in a bar with a big screen. Nice….

My background is in entertainment, live entertainment, for audiences at festivals, street fairs, and such. My life has been dedicated to a low tech, high touch, get in close with an audience and make the interactivity of the experience the point of the matter. What I’m doing is not as important as what the mutual experience is doing for all of us.

So, from thirty rows up in the grandstands at turn four in Indianapolis I felt bonded to Roberto Guerrero’s pedal to the metal 200 miles per hour plus life threatening romp where he set a track record on that day back in 1992. They’ve intentionally depowered the vehicles and have walked the cars back from this mortal abyss. Still, I was there. I got it. Saw it with my own eyes.

The organizing concept of having the experience itself trump all else is a first principle in my book. The America’s Cup full sized high tech catamarans that will hit the San Francisco Bay next summer will be something to see. The real question, the real challenge for the America’s cup will be creating a venue that allows its fans the opportunity to be eye witnesses, to see it for themselves. Even with the race being held in the bay with fans lining the shores of Marin County, San Francisco, and Angel Island we might well remain mere distant witnesses.

One of my favorite forms of dance happens in the country and western honky tonks. It’s the two step. Get the girl of your dreams in your arms and you can pretty much count of things going your way. Squeeze that dream in a little tighter might even, turns out, you get lucky later that same night. And but for a price of a beer and the courage to ask a lady for a dance why a man can find more to life doing the two step than most anything else he might dream up doing. My recommendation to the America’s Cup committee is to get out of the city head on up to Placerville, Auburn, Sonora and get out on the floor and figure out how you can take that race you are planning and put it right into the arms of some desperate ready to go fans. If you can figure that one out they’ll love you with the whole of their heart for the rest of their lives. Good luck…


He’d gotten up and gone to work frustrated with the rate at which he was able to accomplish anything. His frustrations had given way to ruminations. The miracle of this woman’s fine bottom— appreciated, with discretion, from a distance, in silence, out of respect— had fixed Ry’s mind upon the divine mystery of the force a woman’s anatomy could have over a man. It is a mighty force. His lower extremes became a chattering class. The power of her bottom had calved the main portion of Ry’s thinking into a boiling sea of urgency. Ry had lost his mate, and didn’t know how to go about finding someone just for sex. Ry lifted his eyes up and looked at her bottom from a distance. He wanted to confirm how big an impression it had made. It kind of made him feel like he didn’t know what to do. There he stood, a desperate man, caught in his coveralls. Where’s a man find someone he’s not in love with as a person, but who would allow him to have strong feelings toward her bottom?

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith


Cast Your Fate to the Wind

Excuse me there must be some mistake, I am first


Must have been that some of the worlds greatest sailors listened to Vince Guaraldi’s hit song, Cast Your Fate to the Wind. I’m no expert. What do I know? I’m looking at the same thing everyone else is looking at. I see a mark on the water and imagine how I might get to that mark before the next guy. Evidently the worlds greatest sailors neglected to ask me how I’d do it. My first bit of advice. Do what Spithill does. If that doesn’t work take up golf and go after Tiger.


Skipper James Spithill sailing Oracle bested opposing skipper Yann Guichard of Team Energy of France this last Saturday. Spithill is a piece of work. Ellison I am sure figured after having Spithill cause so much trouble it might be best to hire the Australian rather than be run over by him.


Yann Guichard Energy TeamFrancelooks on paper, on water, and in photographs to be a worthy adversary to the ever voracious Spithill. In a race for romance I’d bet on Guichard, but even that might be a bit of a risk. Spithill I’m sure would find his way into the heart of the same woman faster than his French counterpart.

Jimmy's Peeps

On Saturday Energy Team after rounding the first mark went to the next mark taking the north side of the course while Spithill went the other way to the south. For a while that looked fine, but then Guichard kept going and going and going. Guichard cast his fate to the wind. It was death on that side. There were neither wind shifts nor stronger winds. All the armchair sailors I was seated with agreed that the French skipper had lost the race as he remained stubbornly on this side of the race course.


I know nothing about these guys. I’m guessing to be the sailor that steers one of these machines you got to be pretty good. But mixed into these great helmsmen is an outlier. That’s Jimmy Spithill. I’m also guessing that Jimmy has got the rest of the helmsmen talking to themselves. He must be annoying. He must be witty. He must find his way under their skin. He’s probably nice to them while planting little seeds of doubt in the subtext of their comradeship. He probably smiles, keeps his cool, then heads out onto the course and bashes their brains in again and again.


If one sharp knife in your drawer is not enough, and you are billionaire Larry Ellison get a second sharp knife. His name is John Kostecki, Oracle’s tactician. Jimmy this is your brain when steering, and this is your mortal lock second mate confirming what you already know. “Nobody, do you hear me, nobody, beats Jimmy and Johnny, you understand?”

Inconvenient Truth What was Al Gore doing there?


Well almost nobody. There is still the inconvenient fact thatNew Zealand even after this past weekends races leads the series by one point!


Who is this that dares to get in Jimmy Spithills wake? Dean Barker is his name. He is older than Spithill. He is from New Zealand. Born in Takapuna. A native, racing for his country. Like Spithill he takes pleasure in vanquishing those who dare get in his way, There is a one point difference after this last week of racing in San Diego. That’s it, that’s all that separates Spithill from Barker.


I can hear Larry Ellison’s instructions to Spithill, “bring me his head….”


BANKRUPT HEART                                      THE SECOND NOVEL

Finn looked at Ry’s face. He seemed more relaxed. The harbor oozed tranquility and coaxed an unhurried demeanor from the people who lived there. Seagulls sat resting on the metal boat shed roof, mallards explored afloat on the water, while crows hopped about the docks— there was always a chance something to eat would turn up. The harbor was juxtaposed next to the freeway where rush-hour traffic was headed north at a crawl, bumper to bumper. There was a treasured serenity as the boatyard emptied of the men and the women who had finished up their work for the day.

            “You can stay aboard if you like. I’ve got to get going.” Finn said opening the icebox and inspecting its contents. “I’ve got beer on ice, there’s a steak I need to cook, it’s just going to go to waste; I’ve got vegetables, bread, cookies for dessert, you’d be set up— galley’s got everything.” He was smiling, trying to coax a ‘yes’ out of his friend.

            Ry was quick to decline. “No. I don’t think so.”


Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith


The Happiness of Larry Ellison

Thoroughbreds In the Barn

Riding the passenger’s position aboard Oracle on Saturday as Spithill vanquished the French boat Energy there was an opportunity to view the heart and happiness of our billionaire entrepreneurAmerica’s Cup tycoon in full happiness while witnessing what he has wrought upon the world of racing.


It does my heart good to know a man who has everything simply wanted to ride around a race course from the catbird seat. Larry is human! He has feelings, passions, desire, and has the wherewithal to put his money where his heart is.


NFL, NBA, MLB…. You can’t sit on the field and observe the game. But, in yacht racing you can.


Larry’s got everything. If you had his options, if you could fly here, stay in that place there, aboard this yacht for the weekend, or in your home on the east coast right now, or the west coast tonight, among all these choices would you choose a ride aboard a catamaran? So, here it seems the truth comes out. The man who has everything has nothing if he can not choose to enjoy the simplest things…


While seated in the shadow of the Midway aircraft carrier museum on Saturday while enjoying the racing and speculating about the fickle hearted whim of wind shifts, tides and currents, of a good start, a lucky break, skill and experience with the armchair types I was seated with it was a good thing for us to witness a man of special means electing to enjoy the most essential pleasures.

BANKRUPT HEART                         THE SECOND NOVEL

“It isn’t hard to know.  Plain as day, plain as this day. Life can be so simple; we can’t see it.  Then, some do.  Some make friends with themselves, make room in their heart, make it their home, then wherever you go, whatever you’re doing, you are always there, at home with yourself.   That’s it really…”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith