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29 Jan 2015
When the cup runs over Billionaires can buy anything except the america's cup.Yet some billionaires want the cup so badly they are prepared to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into competing for a battered silver jug they cannot own outright and must always defend in an environment beyond human control. Thus it will be in auckland on february 15, when the 32nd round in the world's oldest yacht race begins, and louis vuitton online shop sale a 154 year old battle of the tycoons continues. Seen today on its background of trendy auckland waterfront cafes full of beautiful people looking out over serried ranks of lavish, multi million dollar pleasure craft moored in the sunshine, it is a tournament of knights and champions in a modern day camelot. So, brace your lemon yellow louis vuitton boat shoes on the taffrail and consult your diamond encrusted tag heuer, because this is the big time;Bigger by far than in 1983 when john bertrand and alan bond, on the seventh australian attempt since sir frank packer's gretel in 1962, broke america's grip and took the cup to perth. Only the richest can afford to compete, yet limitless money is no guarantee of victory.Human skill in design, guts, cunning and daring in sailing, are the decisive factors but, then, you get the best people only when you can afford to pay for them. Larry ellison, one of the richest men on the planet, is the head of oracle, the world's second largest software company.Last week, he came close to getting his first shot at the"Auld mug", but failed despite having cast an estimated $US200 million on to the choppy waters of Auckland Harbour. His preparations were exhaustive.His entourage, with its headquarters on his 200 foot, four deck motor yacht, katana, was impressive. Various big tender boats, katana, the race yachts and several training boats were all either shipped or air freighted to auckland and, with their attendants, have been maintained there for nearly six months.And still ellison lost. He was beaten 5 1 in the preliminary louis vuitton cup races by another billionaire, ernesto bertarelli, head louis vuitton womens bags of a massive swiss biotechnology empire.Bertarelli's alinghi will now challenge team new zealand in the america's cup match races next month. What, you may ask, are the louis vuitton womens bags landlocked swiss doing in an ocean race?Just what every other billionaire in the sport is doing trying for a unique place in history:Their name engraved on a peerless international trophy older than any other sporting prize still open to contest. Bertarelli has probably poured at least $us150 million into his bid and he still has the america's cup races next month to go.Not that he and ellison were alone in the effort.Nine teams challenged in the louis vuitton cup, meaning that about $us1 billion has been spent just in the preliminaries. Ellison's loss is a blow not only to one of the most aggressive egos in international business, but also to us yachting pride.For the second consecutive time in america's cup contests, no americans have made it to the final. "It's fascinating to consider why the americans are not succeeding,"Says mark hutchinson, communications director for louis vuitton and a veteran of america's cup contests. "Three teams this year flew the us flag, stars and stripes, oneworld(Backed by paul allen, a founder of microsoft)And oracle, but the crews weren't all american.Half of them were kiwis, australians and europeans.American sailors do not have the talent to do this sort of racing any more. " The new zealanders have dominated the america's cup since 1995, when sir peter blake snatched the trophy away from dennis conner's young america, five races to nil, in san diego. This year, kiwi yachtsmen fought out the final of the louis vuitton cup, and the america's cup matches will also be a battle of kiwi skills between dean barker in team new zealand and russell coutts in alinghi.Six of the swiss boat's crew are new zealanders, including brad butterworth, rated the best big boat yachting tactician in the world. In 2000, coutts, one of the wiliest big boat sailors in the world, skippered team new zealand and thrashed the italian challenger, prada, five nil to retain the cup. Now coutts is aiming to take the cup away from his own country. That he is well favoured to do just that is causing great angst in new zealand, where emotions are running high, not least because the yachting industry, boosted by the america's cup successes, is worth about $720 million a year, bigger now than wine exports. The new zealanders have not been defeated in the 10 races sailed in the two most recent america's cup rounds and have lost only once in 48 races sailed in america's cup and louis vuitton cup events since 1995. This has done new zealand's yachtsmen no harm.Chris dickson is alleged to have been paid more than $us1 million to skipper oracle.Dickson, who has made four attempts at the america's cup and sailed many ocean races for ellison, is said to be worth about $us7 million, all of it from yachting. Pessimists in auckland, sucking on their cold sauvignon blanc, say that if the cup goes to europe it could stay there for a long time.The races probably would be held in the mediterranean, spreading the drama along the italian and french coasts where european yachtsmen are masters and the commercial return potentially spectacular. The other loss in auckland, mainly for observers of the sometimes bitter personal rivalry among the titans of technology, is that a hoped for battle between two of the bigger egos in the industry will not happen. Had ellison won the louis vuitton cup and thus the right to challenge for the america's cup, he would have been pitted against hasso plattner, head of sap, one of the world's largest business software companies.It is alleged by those regularly seen in the champagne bars and salons of san francisco and st tropez that no love is lost between ellison and plattner, especially when it comes to yacht racing.Each has won the sydney hobart.Plattner is one of five angels backing the kiwis, but won't say by how much. For ellison, the loss was hard to take, but it has not dampened his enthusiasm. And, despite being deeply disappointed and obliquely critical of oracle's skipper, he could still crack a joke.Asked why he had entered the america's cup contest, he said: "I decided to enter just after the sydney to hobart because i have never heard of anyone being killed in an america's cup race.I was sure i was going to die in that race. " Ellison won that terrible 1998 race in sayonara, his 81 foot ocean racer designed by bruce farr, another new zealander in his yachting history. Farr and his team designed oracle, and that is another twist in the america's cup saga.Farr has won all but everything in international yachting, yet after six attempts the america's cup still eludes him.

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