America’s Cup: What was Changed on Oracle

How Oracle turned their boat into the rocket ship that won the 34th America’s Cup

Photo by Jan Pehrson

Photo by Jan Pehrson

Post by Matthew Sheahan on Yachting World

Having remained in San Francisco for a few days after the end of the event, I got to speak to a number of people about what was really going on. It didn’t take long for the real picture of what was behind the speed improvements to emerge.

Oracle’s jump in performance half way through the America’s Cup is still the subject of hot debate, particularly among the New Zealand press who are convinced that the black cat had some special device that allowed them to foil more effectively. Was the ‘Herbie’, as it became nicknamed, legal? Would Team New Zealand take legal action?

The speculation should have been brought to a halt after team boss Grant Dalton confirmed on Saturday that the team would not be taking legal action over the alleged device. But the chatter still goes on.

Oracle’s two boats were very different in their handling characteristics, indeed so much so that they were nicknamed by the crews, ‘the wife’ and ‘the mistress’, the latter being boat number one, the more lively, wayward boat. Modified extensively after the big crash in October, the mistress, which was the boat Ben Ainslie helmed during two boat training, was twitchy and difficult to keep under control. (Incidentally, I’m told that Ben’s full-on attitude towards helming the mistress often gave her crew the jitters.)

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