HAMILTON, BER – All along ORACLE TEAM USA have said they didn't have the time or the resources to build a second AC50, even though they are permitted under the Protocol to build a backup boat. However, your Ed. has also said from the get-go that there was no way that Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts (who, remember, is still CEO of OTUSA even though he is also CEO of ACEA) would go into the AC Match without a backup boat. This we predicted months ago, and again yesterday at a talk I gave at St. Francis YC – that OTUSA would for sure have a backup boat if only by putting their own set of built-in-the-USA bows on SoftBank Team Japan's AC50.
Recall that the team many call "Oracle Team Japan" received a design package from OTUSA early in this AC35 cycle.
Under the perverse Protocol, for a yacht to qualify under the Deed of Gift's Constructed in Country ("CIC") clause, only the knock-off bows have to be constructed in the country of the club the yacht represents. And lest anyone forget, and because you won't see it mentioned anywhere in ACEA or OTUSA publicity, ORACLE TEAM USA represents the Golden Gate YC of San Francisco. So OTUSA's American-built bows, are being fitted to the ostensibly Japanese AC50 which, like Oracle's boat, was built at the Ellison-owned Core Composites facility in Warkworth, NZ.
Sure enough, today a set of red bows were seen being carried to the SBTJ base. Photos courtesy of Emirates Team New Zealand, who had this to say about it on their Facebook page an hour ago: "Closing the circle. ORACLE TEAM USA spare bows heading over to SoftBank Team Japan to create Oracle Boat 2. Surprised?"
Sorry to repeat, SAILING ILLUSTRATED is not surprised in the least.
One more point – under the Protocol the Challengers are permitted to build only one AC50. So, if during the Match there is a collision that is the fault of the Kiwis and their boat is seriously damaged, there is no redress available from the Jury and ETNZ are toast. If, however, the same thing happens to OTUSA, they simply switch to their backup boat that raced, except for the knock-off bows, in the Challenger selection series.
Photos: Emirates Team New Zealand.