Two more editorials today, one on Gawker and one from Mother Jones, succeed in eviscerating Larry Ellison and his great big, ultra-expensive, no-good boat race in which there's barely anyone competing at this point except him.
The Gawker piece, part of their weekly American Journal column by Ken Layne, pokes special fun at Ellison, and notes that even sponsor Louis Vuitton seems a little pissed about how few boats there are in this race.
In Silicon Valley, billionaires such as Ellison use sailing as a way to show off their obscene wealth. And within this fake-libertarian outdoor-wear showoff culture, competitive sailing is the ultimate way to burn money while looking rugged. ...
Ellison conned the city of San Francisco out of some $60 million in subsidies and services, even as his fellow billionaires decided against throwing their money at his vanity project. The promised 15 crazy catamarans filling the Bay with action wound up being a trio of lonesome showboats that often raced against nothing but the wind. So few teams actually showed up that longtime America's Cup sponsor Louis Vuitton demanded a return of $3 million already pledged to the event.
Also, Layne recommends something Ellison might want to consider if he actually wants to get the tens, or hundreds of thousands of spectators he promised to show up:
If Ellison truly wants to produce a spectacle in the natural amphitheater of the San Francisco Bay, he will announce the 2015 War of the Giant Nautical Robots. Each tech-company team will have its own island to defend—Alcatraz, Treasure Island, Alameda, Angel Island—and each will produce 200-foot-tall amphibious robots that will fight with brute force. Think of that Pacific Rim movie, but without the annoying characters and talking. Just massive, deadly robots, beating the crap out of each other, cheered on by hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the shores and docks of San Francisco and the East Bay...
The tech companies that make so much money selling us unnecessary upgrades and spying on everyone for the U.S. government at least owe us incredible spectacles.
Mother Jones delves into the dollars and cents of it all, what San Francisco taxpayers are actually paying for, and how Larry actually snagged the Cup in the first place, back in 2010. Basically, he's taken a number of people to court:
Ellison's 2010 victory in Valencia, Spain, was years (and millions of dollars) in the making. From 2007 to 2009, Ellison fought a series of legal battles so that his team could replace a newly formed Spanish team that was set to compete. He won, then proceeded to fight then-Cupholder Swiss pharmaceutical heir Ernesto Bertarelli in New York state courts over the time and location of the race. Ellison's lawyer was David Boies, who represented Al Gore in the 2000 recount battle [and the plaintiffs in the Prop 8 suit].
Chris Pastore, a yachting historian, says that, "Yacht racing is inherently litigious," but it all sounds very exhausting to us.
They also point out that this may not turn out to be such a disaster, and if the race breaks even, or whatever, S.F. might let Ellison do it here again. But the giant robot idea would totally be a bigger hit.