The Louis Vuitton Cup
Written by Cathy Siegismund
September - October 2002
Ken and I volunteered to work with the
Louis Vuitton Cup; the race
that determines the boat which will challenge the defender, currently Team New
Zealand, during the Americas Cup. Buckland's Beach Yacht Club, at Half Moon Bay,
is organizing much of the Louis Vuitton Cup, including supplying the volunteers.
It sounded like a great experience, so we emailed the organizers, were
interviewed, and were given patrol boat duty. This involved several weeks of
training and then being out on the water every day of the Louis Vuitton Cup. We had a 21-foot fiberglass powerboat with a very
small cabin and a big outboard, which let us rip along at up to 47 mph -- in flat
water. We had to set two marks, which made up part of the start box for the race
and then had to patrol the start box area to keep spectator boats from
interfering with the racing.
After the training but before the Louis Vuitton Cup began, we got to
participate in some very cool events including the welcome parade through
downtown Auckland for all the participating syndicates, volunteers and
Louis Vuitton Cup banner on the parade route through downtown Auckland
For more pictures see the Louis Vuitton Cup Parade Photo
The parade was followed by the Louis Vuitton Cup opening ceremonies. We were
excited to have been given tickets to this event, and had even managed to get an
extra pair of tickets, which we gave to Nik and Jenn on Green Ghost who joined us
for the day's festivities. The opening ceremonies consisted of various speeches
from the Louis Vuitton and America's Cup organizers, as well as a speech by
Helen Clark, Prime Minister of New Zealand. These were followed by the
introduction of the nine challenger teams who would participate in the Louis
Vuitton Cup, England's GBR Challenge, France's Le Defi Areva, Italy's Mascalzone
Latino, and Prada (the last Louis Vuitton Cup winner), Sweden's Victory
Challenge, Switzerland's Alinghi, and the three US teams, Team Denis Conner (AKA
Stars and Stripes), Oracle BMW Racing, and Seattle's OneWorld Challenge.
Louis Vuitton Cup opening ceremonies at Auckland's Viaduct
Seattle's OneWorld Challenge and Denis Conner being
introduced during the opening ceremonies
Larry Ellison, founder of software giant Oracle, and the
cash behind Oracle BMW Racing watches the ceremony from his mega yacht Katana
Behind all the opening ceremony hoopla sat the America's Cup
The opening ceremonies also included some great singing and dancing from Kiwi
performers. No Kiwi performance would be complete without a Haka.
Great singing and dancing and of course a Haka performed by
a group of Maori performers
At the close of the ceremonies, those with tickets attended the Louis Vuitton
welcome party. The party was for all of the team syndicates, organizers, and
volunteers associated with the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series. We were
pretty excited to get tickets to this much talked about event, and as we each
got to take a guest we took Nik and Jenn.
The party is one of the coolest Ken or I had ever attended. It was at a huge
warehouse, which had been decorated in this sort of "industrial cool," or "70's
rock concert motif" which had graffiti all over the walls, shipping
containers stacked 2 and 3 high separating different areas, making walls, and
smoke and flames shooting out of the top of the walls.
Cath in front metal sculpted Louis Vuitton Cup sign at the
In addition to open bar with some great wine and beer, each country
represented in the Louis Vuitton Cup had a huge decorated food stand with themed
fare, such as English fish and chips, Swiss chocolates, Swedish salmon, and US
Nik and Jenn enjoying the party fare
A couple of days later, we started our volunteer duty with the Louis Vuitton
Cup. Our volunteer days started early, leaving the boat by 7am to be at
Buckland's Beach Yacht Club by 8am to get our patrol boat ready and be in the
8:30 race briefing.
Patrol boats and the marks we set tied up at Half Moon Bay
Patrol boats heading out to the race course, which was often
a very bumpy 20km ride
Cath with one of the marks that forms the start box and answering roll call on
Our friends Holly and Taren on another patrol boat
Friends John, Chris and Annie on one of the patrol ribs
The same group giving us a foul weather gear "moon"
Our view of the racing wasn't as good as we had hoped, but we did get some great
views of the boats prior to the racing, and occasionally a good view of some of
the leeward mark roundings, when we weren't chasing start box infringers.
The two OneWorld boats practicing
For more pictures of the Louis Vuitton Cup racing see our
Louis Vuitton Cup Photo Gallery
In October, we also celebrated a big birthday with our friend Jenn on Green
Ghost. We explored the Auckland Viaduct Harbor and all of the America's cup
challenger team's sheds, had a great dinner at Soul Bar, our favorite
restaurant, and finished the night up with some cocktails and bar hopping.
Jenn sporting her new Felicity hat birthday present
Nik and Jenn giving the grinder simulation a try in the Alinghi shed
Ken giving the grinder and the bucking bow a try
Jenn riding the bucking bow simulator
New Zealand Telcom shed
Jenn and Nik at dinner at Soul Bar
Jenn and Nik trying out the bathtub
As they had been stuck in the boat yard for over a month working on Green Ghost, part of Jenn's present
was a night in a hotel in downtown Auckland. No one should have to spend their
40th birthday in the boat yard!