The off-the-water element of the America's Cup has been the antithesis of smooth sailing. Mayor Gavin Newsom and the "city family" pushed a series of fiscally disastrous deals with Larry Ellison -- only for the yachting billionaire to pull the plug on the cusp of all-but-certain approval by the Board of Supervisors, forcing a scaled-down arrangement.
The 17 or so racing syndicates organizers dazzled city officials with have been whittled down to four. And just how much money the city is going to bleed into the event and how much the private fund-raisers "endeavored" to raise remain contentious issues.
The one thing everybody on both sides of the issue could agree on was that the race itself -- the end result of all this contentious bickering -- would be a marvel. Space age boats, world-class crews, the backdrop of San Francisco Bay: Instant classic.
Or so we'd thought. The death of British Gold Medalist Andrew Simpson last week when the Team Artemis boat broke up in relatively routine conditions has thrown even that into doubt. Doubt, in fact, may not be strong enough a word. A crew member on one of the America's Cup boats had this to say to the New Zealand Herald:
"I hope like hell that whoever survives this thing and wins it changesSee Also: Sailor's Death in Boat Breakup Forces Painful Questions
the boat class to anything safer than these God-forsaken death traps."
As America's Cup officials ponder how to proceed in the wake of the fatal wreck, the unnamed sailors quoted in Andrew Alderson's piece make it very clear what they'd prefer:
"I hope after all of this, the only place people see these yachts are in museums and pictures."