Sunday, August 23, 2009

Harrison Ford Adds to the America’s Cup Drama

High Drama
There has been much drama since Alinghi announced Ras al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates as the venue for the 33rd America’s Cup but now, actor Harrison Ford has been harnessed by BMW Oracle to bestow upon them the Indiana Jones spirit.

Thus Far
Alinghi announced the sailing venue on the historic ‘Pirate’s Coast’, a fitting venue for two modern day pirates wanting to stretch the other upon the RAK.

Larry Ellison went on the counter attack, questioning Alinghi’s lack of consultation and the safety of sailing within a few miles of Iran. Legal options were left on the table and then BMW Oracle hired a hotshot lawyer to ensure all is done according to the Deed of Gift.

News has also come out this week about the billionaire’s $84.5 million pay packet to keep him going through the year of 2009.

The drama has also been unfolding on the Italian stage of Genoa, where BMW has employed a spy boat to get intelligence on Alinghi’s catamaran. Unfortunately the driver of the boat was so intent on getting up close for the photographer that she failed to see a fisherman and almost filleted him and his boat.

BMW Oracle Razzamatazz
The special occasion was a time for signing posters, drinking champagne and introducing the sailors and support crew, however, primarily the trimaran took centre stage.

It was presented in grandiose terms—a 185 foot high mast as high as a 19-story building and with an area the size of two basketball courts.

The tri is capable of sailing at never-before attained speeds of 50 knots and the experience of being on board at full tilt, according to helmsman, James Spithall, is “an adrenalin rush.”

New Zealander, Russell Coutts said, “this boat was built to be pushed and that’s exactly what we are doing.”

Another spokesperson said that this campaign will be a testing one—“testing of the limits of technology, our ability as sailors, the designers and that of the builders.”

Harrison Ford in the Act
Why was the veteran actor, Harrison Ford, associated with the campaign launch of the challenger when he admitted to the crowd that he knew little or nothing about sailing or the America’s Cup (obviously this apology was unscripted)?

After expressing his admiration and regard for “one of the premier sailing teams in the world if not the premier sailing team in the world,” he said, “My regard for you is high.” Not entirely an unequivocal endorsement of the team’s ranking and chances.

The American flags were raised high and the water was sprayed on the trimaran in what appeared to be a celebratory baptism (by sprinkling rather than total immersion).

Ford said, “I’m here for a wild ride” referring to the invitation to go out on the trimaran after the speeches were over and the champagne was drained.

High Drama
While Ford’s star power has waned in recent years the BMW Oracle team wanted to attract something of the actor’s enjoyment of high action and invincibility.

Harrison Ford is also known to push the limits off the stage, as a pilot of planes and helicopters and one who has been in several accidents and rescue missions.

The Next Act in the Cup
How will the America’s Cup play out in this next act having imbibed some of the Harrison Ford spirit?

Will it be a case of Gunsmoke at RAK, Star Wars on the Persian Gulf, Indiana Jones washes up on the Iranian border and will BMW Oracle be the Fugitive?

With such a dramatic performance at San Diego one would think BMW Oracle is starting to think about sailing on the water rather than battling in the courts.

BMW Oracle Racing Introduces US America’s Cup Team, Port of San Diego, 11 August 2009.

America’s Cup Fever Returns to San Diego, AP-The Log, 21 August 2009.

BMW Oracle Racing Ceremony Highlights, YouTube, 11 August 2009.

On Related Sites
Sheikh Mohammed Pardons 595 Prisoners on First Day of Ramadan, Experiencing the Emirates, 22 August 2009.

Fujairah Ruler Extends Ramadan Greetings, Fujairah in Focus, 23 August 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at) on Facebook and Twitter.

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Image: Glimpses of the BMW Oracle bash in San Diego.