The much-delayed and increasingly less-anticipated but long-promised Last and Final Race of the 34th running of the America's Cup epic sailing Regatta thing on scenic San Francisco Bay Wednesday decided absolutely nothing.
A collision between Emirates Team New Zealand's Etnz, and Silicon Valley magnate and SF Bay sailing society sweetheart Larry Ellison's ORACLE TEAM USA's Oracle, 2.13 seconds and literally a matter of feet (not even a couple of meters) away from the official start the race, resulted in the entanglement, holing, and almost immediate and simultaneous sinking of both boats.
Instant replay revealed that, in the crucial moments leading up to the collision, both boats were in the midst of illegal maneuvers while jockeying for an unfair advantage at the start of the race, that neither had the right-of-way, and that both were, in a technically sailing sense, if not a morally sailing sense, equally to blame for the incident.
Satisfying themselves that all hands from both boats had been successfully retrieved and accounted for, Regatta officials declared "this thing is so over," and thus was and therefore is "a tie," and then cut the "Auld Mug" in exactly half, and gave one piece to each Team, and declared the "End of the America's Cup as it has come to its final, terminal mutation."
Thus, those who care about this sort of thing will never know if one of the most incredible, improbable, implausible, nay, impossible, amazing, astounding, awesome, and dubious comebacks in the entire history of sports (or at least this sport) would, could, or should have happened.
Down 8-1 in a game where 9 is match, Oracle pulled off seven straight wins to force today's sudden death, no tomorrow, winner-take-all, fish-or-cut-bait climax to what some like to call the most spectacular, if not important, sporting event on the planet.
Apparently, the Sailing Gods had determined that that simply just was not to be.
It was an almost poetically fitting conclusion to the first (and presumably last) America's Cup to be held on the west coast north of San Diego. AC34 has been beleaguered from the outset by a whole host of plagues of almost Biblical dimension: from grossly under-predicted and over-realized costs of everything from the boats to the venue to infrastructure; to grossly over-predicted and under-realized public interest, thus attendance, and above (or below) all, thus revenue; to a competitor's death; to the worst (ok, exposed) cheating scandal in the Cup's long, storied, belabored, and frankly dull history; and to the distractions of first a possible American war against Syria and then of the looming shutdown of the federal government.
Even as both teams were trying to figure out how to drink champagne from their half of what used to be the Cup for which the event is named, the man who brought this whole carnival to San Francisco in the first place, Larry Ellison, was winging his way to Beijing.
His focus was on the looming, to-be-held-no-later-than 2018 America's Cup (if it's still called that) 35, to be jointly hosted by the defending 2013 co-Champions, Team New Zealand and Team United States of America, in two separate locations, one of each Teams' choosing, anywhere in the world.
His intent was to negotiate a deal whereby the American (ie, Ellison)-controlled portions of AC35 would be staged in Communist Chinese waters, provided, of course, that he could get a better setup than the one he got from the city Tony Bennett left behind.
[Jeff Moebus lives on a sailboat in Sitka, Alaska, where he has been covering AC 34 from his perch in a sports bar for The ?-Centauri Sentinel; the News Flash is extracted from AC 34: The Secret History.]