Americas Cup, and Pieces Of

So when the once Defender and the now Defender finally agreed to drop litigation and complete the transfer to the shores of San Francisco Bay of all the details attending upon the America’s Cup itself, the buzz on the Bay Area Multihull Association forum was about “pieces of the damaged Cup.”

“WHEREAS, following the conclusion of the 33rd America’s Cup, the Parties agree that it is in the best interest of the America’s Cup and the sport to discontinue all litigation between them . . . Within 10 days of the execution of this Agreement, SNG shall transfer to GGYC the pieces of the damaged Cup that SNG recovered in 2006 from different individuals in New Zealand.”

Ever wonder what became of those battered fragments that someone in New Zealand once attempted to sell off?

The flag of Maori sovereignty

For those who need a reminder: It was in 1997 that a young man showed up at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron asking to see the Cup, then pulled out a hammer, smashed the glass case, and went to work on the Cup and smashed it considerably before being subdued. A seven-member group calling itself the Tino Rangitiratanga Liberation Organization claimed responsibility, but the actor was one Benjamin Peri Nathan, a Maori activist striking out against a shiny symbol of the culture that has overwhelmed his Maori homeland. Nathan had additional legal issues and wound up spending 18 months in the pokey. In a news report of the incident, the New Zealand Herald quoted a psychiatrist who had treated Nathan a year earlier as saying he had “problems keeping things in perspective.”

Following a renovation in London at Gerard’s, where it was created in 1851, America’s Cup 2.0 was returned to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and then encased in shatterproof glass, lest the next guy through the door be on a tear about the “illegal occupation of New Zealand.”

The Cup arrives in the hands of the minders. Photo by Gilles Martin-Raget/BOR

Which reminds us why the famous trophy today is never without its two “minders” who appear capable of taking your head off with their bare hands.

As I write, the America’s Cup is out making personal appearances. Along with its minders it popped up recently at the races for the Louis Vuitton Trophy Auckland, and I hear it will be back in California soon. Presumably the folks on the cityfront at Golden Gate Yacht Club are on guard for vengeful, displaced Miwoks.

I tried to check in with GGYC Commodore Marcus Young (check in-check out his Olympic Star campaign), but I have reason to suspect that he is on the slopes of Tahoe as I write and occupied with unyachting pursuits.

(The battered bits of the Cup appeared on an auction block in New Zealand in 2006, but Ernesto Bertarelli’s Société Nautique de Genève—which held the Cup at the time—asserted its rights as trustee, demonstrated that the pieces had been stolen from Gerard’s, and took possession.)

I note that a different item in the lengthy legal agreement calls for the transfer of trademarks and the domain name, I would have bid on that.


Congratulations not only to Francesco Bruni and crew for winning the Congressional Cup, but to the Long Beach Yacht Club for originating and sustaining an event that has been a contributing, creative force in match racing for four decades. The Congressional Cup is the signature event at Long Beach Yacht Club. Putting it on each year nourishes the heart and soul of the membership and the 300 or so volunteers who throw themselves into the work with dedication. Every club needs something like this. It’s a spirit thing. As for the wrapup, here’s the word from the organizers:

Francesco Bruni and his team Azzurra crew squeezed the last bit of breath out of the 46th Congressional Cup Saturday to outsail Gavin Brady, 2-1, and deny the four-time winner an unprecedented fifth Crimson Blazer in the only Grade 1 Open match racing regatta in the United States.

Instead, it was the affable Italian who donned the traditional prize after reveling in a champagne shower and a proper dunking at the dock that blew off the tension of a hard-earned victory.

Action on the course. Courtesy LBYC

Oh, and you can visit the Bay Area Multihull Association – prepping for next Saturday’s Doublehanded Farallones Race – at

Suns New Jerseys