Gnomes at sea

March 04, 2003

THE AMERICA'S Cup - one of the sporting world's oldest and most prestigious trophies - is about a lot of things, among them wealth, rule-bending, obnoxious behavior, a visual spectacle that beats watching paint dry (most of the time), and more wealth. It does have one nonnegotiable element: salt water.

And yet the Swiss won it. They won't even be able to defend it properly - they've got nowhere to race. Even if they dumped all the salt in Utah into Lake Geneva, they still wouldn't have an ocean. They're going to have to rent out Portugal or Spain for the occasion - except that the new owner (excuse us, holder) of the cup is talking about trying to charge them for the privilege.

So how did they do it? Ernesto Bertarelli, a pharmaceutical billionaire, simply bought his way to victory over previous winner New Zealand, even hiring away several of New Zealand's finest sailors. What kind of way is that to win a race?

For 132 years, the commodores of the New York Yacht Club kept the America's Cup in its proper home - the U.S.A. - by writing rules so ridiculously unfair that no one could hope to wrest it away from them. That's the American way. It's a sad commentary on our times that the United States is no longer a contender, and that the Swiss are the monarchs of the sea.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.