The 33rd America's Cup Is About to Get Underway

Does anyone give a damn?

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Andy Warhol famously said "Don't pay attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches." But if all publicity is good publicity, surely there'd be a lot more excitement in the air about the 33rd America's Cup, which finally gets underway next week in Valencia, Spain. It's likely that more money, more time, and more ink has been spilled on the way to this start line than in all the other America's Cups combined. Now, two spectacular vessels, each the result of thousands of hours and millions of dollars of hi-tech research and design, will compete to claim (or in Alinghi's case, reclaim) the coveted America's Cup, which was first fought for in 1851. Yet, billionaires Ernesto Bertarelli, the leader of the defending Alinghi syndicate, and Larry Ellison, leader of the BMW Oracle syndicate, have waged such a bitter and tedious war over the particulars of the race that it's hard not to see them as cartoonish megalomaniacs who have utterly missed the point. While they stood in the schoolyard throwing low blows, pulling each others' hair, kicking, and spitting, an entire sport was held hostage. If ever there was a race that was not about the winning, but instead about spirited competition on the high seas, the America's Cup was that race. Or to paraphrase Lance Armstrong, it's not about the boat.

For the more resilient America's Cup die-hards amongst us, Barry Pickthall will be on the ground for Yachting in Valencia and will be reporting back with all the details. ESPN360.com-the 24/7 broadband sports network-will also cover the races, with Gary Jobson and Randy Smyth calling the events. The first race will be Monday, February 8th at 3:45 a.m. ET. Race 2 is scheduled for Wednesday, February 10th at 3:45 a.m. ET. If a third race is necessary in the best of three competitions, it will be on Friday, February 12th, also at 3:45 a.m. ET.

In the meantime, see our sections on Where to Tie Up in Valencia and Meet the Machines, which compare the rival sailing machines.

And if any of our readers have ideas for how to restore the spirit of this race and return it to those who are as passionate about good sportsmanship as they are winning, let us know at letters@yachtingmagazine.com.