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LDV Automotive Australia: 'The biggest car company you've never heard of' – at least until LDV COMANCHE won Sydney-Hobart; musings on what makes our sport great; Happy New Year!

Friday, December 29, 2017

SAN DIEGO – After our mock protest hearing, and COMANCHE's subsequent win in the protest room, and race, Victor Felice (our clever sailing friend originally from Malta who now resides and sails in Arizona – more on that below) posted this comment:

 

"One hears that the International Jury took the SAILING ILLUSTRATED mock trial into consideration. If you see Dick Enersen driving around in a Chinese-made pick-up truck any time soon, please do wave and give him a hearty wave and thumbs-up."

 

Huh?

 

For those of you, like your Ed., who did not get Victor's hilarious albeit subtle joke the first time around, allow me to 'splain it, and then some....

 

Dick Enersen, winning AC crewman (1964, CONSTELLATION) and esteemed filmmaker (among other films, "The Best Defense" about Ted Turner's stunning AC win 1977) played the role of LDV COMANCHE's rep in our Facebook Live mock protest hearing that we put together in less than two hours Wednesday morning with Clark Chapin, who played the more difficult role as WILD OATS XI's protest rep. You can watch a replay of that mock hearing here. It has had over 2,500 views with over 10,000 minutes of viewing. 

 

(For the very few of you who misunderstood our intentions, a "mock" hearing or trial is a demonstration, or practice run, that in no way is intended to make fun, or worse, of the participants or jury by making a "mockery" of them or the process. Quite the opposite.)

 

Back to our story, and Mr Felice's little joke....

 

So, yes, Dick was LDV COMANCHE'S rep. He did an excellent job, and according to our dozens of live viewers who acted as the "jury" and voted at the end of our Facebook Live show, LDV COMANCHE won our mock protest hearing overwhelmingly. The vote was something like 95% to 5%. No surprise, as I think most would agree, then and now, that LDVC was in the right.

 

I gave Clark, an esteemed and long-serving USA National Judge, first choice of which side to rep. To his credit, Clark chose WILD OATS XI as the, ahem, more challenging case to present. And he, too, did an excellent job.

 

But why might you see Dick Enersen "driving around in a Chinese-made pick-up truck?" 

 

Turns out Victor Felice had figured out, by doing a bit of online research, that LDV (of LDV COMANCHE) is the name of a Chinese automotive vehicle manufacturer, including and especially light trucks. COMANCHE's owner, Jim Cooney, is the LDV importer for Australia. Hence the joke, not that Mr Cooney even knew about our mock hearing let alone credits Dick's presentation for helping them win in the protest room. Which, I guess, even gives the joke more legs, er, wheels.

 

For the record, Dick Enersen is from San Francisco. He drives around the Bay Area in a Ferrari and a Mini Cooper convertible. Being the conscientious tree-hugging Stanford grad that he is, one supposes that the Mini is his personal attempt at a carbon offset for his other, gas-guzzling Italian sports car. Probably eases his conscience every time he squeezes his large frame into the Mini, puts the top down, and drives from his North Bay home across the Golden Gate Bridge to his "other home" – the St Francis YC  – singing Stanford's fight song? Waltzing Matilda?? 

 

Just kidding Dick. You'd look great in an LDV truck, too. I hope Mr Cooney sends you one, in which case we'll all give you a thumbs up next time you pull into the StFYC parking lot!

 

As to yacht racing in Arizona, it's not exactly a great American sailing center like Newport, Annapolis, San Diego, or even the thriving sailing scene in the land-locked Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.  But, yes, there is much and good sailing in normally hot, arid Arizona just as there is about everywhere else in the world – from the Nordic countries, to the tropics, to the southern tips of Africa and South America, and just about everywhere in between. Indeed, we find yacht racing not only on the oceans and in coastal waters (where the non-sailing public imagines it all happens), but also on rivers and canals, tiny inland ponds like the one in Michigan where your Ed. grew up, ice boats on frozen bays and lakes, and even with radio-controlled yachts in swimming pools with fans at one end, a la the Gstaad Yacht Club's popular annual Ski-Yachting Regatta high up in the Swiss Alps at the end of February. 

 

That amazing geographic spread sets our sport apart from most others. Few others, e.g., athletics (track and field to Yanks), swimming, and football (soccer to Yanks), compare favorably or exceed our sport's worldwide distribution. It's one of the qualities that makes our sport great – that put us in the Olympics in the first place (since the inaugural 1896 Games), and keeps us in the Olympics despite our low TV profile. 

 

Indeed, it's events like Sydney-Hobart, Newport-Bermuda, the Fastnet, and the freshwater Chicago-Mac (to say nothing of the Volvo Ocean Race, Vendee Globe, et al.) that capture much mainstream media attention along with the interest and fervor of the non-sailing public. Collectively, across the world there's probably more interest in these races than in the America's Cup, especially ACs with only a handful of teams from a few countries with sailors that don't necessarily hail from those countries.

 

The wide global participation and interest in what we call "offshore" or "big boat" racing is why your Ed., a dinghy sailor at heart, is intrigued by, and strongly supports, the inclusion of an overnight distance race in "big boats" for the 2024 Olympics as is now under consideration by World Sailing and the IOC. Call it a sailing marathon if that helps make it seem more "Olympic." Such an event would probably represent a larger chunk of our sport than all the current Olympic classes (dinghies, cats, windsurfers), and those under consideration (kites), combined.

 

That brings us back to the Rolex Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race.

 

First, congrats to Matt Allen, whom we know from the Farr 40 Class, and his ICHI BAN team for their overall win in the RSHYR. Matt is the consummate gentleman and leader in our sport who is a former Commodore of the Cruising Yacht Club of Australia and is currently President of Australian Sailing (their national federation). One hears that Matt  also chaired the arbitration panel for the last America's Cup; but how would you know for sure since, unfortunately for the sport, ACEA kept the panel's makeup and proceedings secret. Read more about ICHI BAN's impressive win here.

 

Second, apologies to Mr Cooney and LDV for the few times SAILING ILLUSTRATED referred to them as LVD. We believe all such references have been fixed. I note that even in one official Rolex video the voice-over referred to COMANCHE, at least once, as LVD COMANCHE. No excuse, it's just that for those of us who have been in the sport a long time LV just rolls off the tongue, or our fingers when typing fast, because of the Louis Vuitton Cup, i.e., the LV Cup or LVC even. For the record, here's the link to the LDV website: https://www.ldvautomotive.com.au

 

(Congrats also to Mr Cooney who, according to today's Sydney Morning Herald, has another victory to celebrate – a win in a "tax dispute over waterfront trophy home.")

 

Third, congrats to Nic Douglass (AUS), aka the "Sailor Girl", for her lively coverage of the RSHYR from start to finish via Facebook Live and YouTube. The other night as the leaders were surfing at 30+ knots down the east coast of Tasmania and the race between LDVC and WOXI was clearly, and rapidly, closing up, I went live on Facebook with about 40 of our friends (it was midnight here on the West Coast). We continued live for about three hours, watching and collectively commenting on the race tracker(s), the unfolding drama, the potential protest, etc. After WOXI had passed LDVC, Nic arrived on the scene in a powerboat and went Facebook Live herself. About 0200 we joined her coverage (after one of our viewers sent me the link), and I encouraged our few viewers left to join her by then 1,000 (ultimately 3,000!) viewers. Some did. A few stayed with my feed as we were also discussing their comments and switching to view the race trackers, etc. Of course we gave Nic repeated credit and mentions when we switched to her video feed. We meant no disrespect; on the contrary we were promoting Nic and her good efforts on behalf of our sport. 

 

Fourth, whether or not you agree with the jury's decision or the penalty they assessed to WOXI, or are fussed about some of the lame heat-of-the moment public comments that were made by a few of the combatants during and after the incident, you have to take solace if not pride in the fact that our sport works. The trophies were awarded, the winners and losers were largely gracious, and no one, LOL, is rioting in the streets of Hobart or Hamilton Island nor threatening to go to court. Afterwards, sailors on both teams – professional and amateur – could be found sharing stories, and their enduring friendships, over a beer or two (or perhaps a fine Oatley wine), and will race together on other boats, in other events, likely sooner than later.

 

Finally, I can't vouch for certain sailing forums where posters, or imposters, can hide behind fake online screen-names, but of the hundreds of comments posted about the Sydney-Hobart on Facebook over the past few days, I haven't seen more than one or two that have been anything other than respectful, thoughtful and well-meaning. Sure, some commenters are probably un- or misinformed, including at times perhaps your Ed. (God forbid!), but nonetheless the discussion has been comfortingly civil and constructive among a bright, friendly, conscientious, and trans-national community of sailors and fans. 

 

That, too, makes our sport great, for which I am sure we are all thankful as 2017 comes to a close. As always, I look forward to your thoughts and comments on any or all of the foregoing.

 

To all, best wishes for the balance of the Holidays, and for a Happy, Healthy and Successful New Year! 

 

What better way to celebrate the old year, and ring in the new, than with this shot of the timeless and enduring DORADE from just before Christmas in Sydney Harbour (obviously). Arguably the most famous ocean-racing yacht of all time, our friends Mat Brooks and his partner Pam Rorke Levy purchased DORADE in 2010 and spent a year restoring this historic yacht with the aim of competing in all the major races she had won. In the hands of Mat and Pam, DORADE has beaten her Transatlantic, Newport-Bermuda, Fastnet and TransPac times of the 1930’s and made the podium of all, winning the 2013 TransPac overall in the bargain. Arriving in Australia earlier this year, she placed third overall in the Brisbane-Keppel race and 14th in the recent Newcastle-Bass Island Race. The oldest yacht in the RSHYR fleet at 87 years old, this is her and Mat Brooks’ first Sydney-Hobart Race. They finished a highly respectable 2nd in class for both IRC and ORCi. [With thanks to the RSHYR website for some of the foregoing prose. –TFE]

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