It had to start somewhere, or you could say it had to end somewhere—those long nights in “the room,” the protest room, haggling over the fine points with never enough evidence to establish the facts and you know that much is true because if you had the facts the hearing would be over in a minute.
On-the-water umpiring revolutionized the high-end game, and that’s what got Arthur “Tuna” Wullschleger to reminiscing today. Here is the world’s most-famous Tuna, in his own words: “In 1987 I was the CEO of America II, the New York Yacht Club’s challenge for the America’s Cup in Perth, Australia, and the protest hearings would start at 7:00, 7:30, 8:00 at night and go till 3 in the morning. That meant I had to send the skipper, John Kolius, or the navigator, and they’d get back to our compound to get a couple hours sleep and then turn out at 6 a.m. to exercise with the team. It was a bit rough. Tom Ehman was also part of the syndicate, and we kept saying, There has to be a better way.”
At 93, WullSchleger served as an International Judge at the recent BVI Spring Regatta & Sailing Festival. It’s an avocation he took up “as a way to stay active” when his sea legs began to fail him. Apparently, it’s working. The judges at Tortola in 2011 had a match racing event (surprise, Peter Holmberg was the early leader) and some 40 cruiser-racers to watch over in this 40th edition of the event.
Australia, ’87, was a bit more high-pressured.
“The America’s Cup jury agreed, we all agreed, there had to be a better way.” But nothing could happen right there, right away. The rules of engagement for the 1986-87 America’s Cup were already set, but Wullschleger and others carried the problem home.
“Ehman’s claim to fame was that he was a hockey player and a hockey referee, so he knew umpiring and refereeing. One of the big questions was, how do we start’em? Then we came up with having them enter, one from each side. But the first time we put umpires on the water was late that same year, 1987 in Newport, Rhode Island.
“We had Jim Kilroy’s Kialoa, Bill Koch’s Matador, little Russell Long with some 72-footer or other, and George Koumantaros’ Baccarat. For tenders we had my 55-foot Hatteras sportfisher and a 58-foot Hatteras. On the people side we had me, Ken Ryan from Ireland, Cy Gillette from Honolulu, Tom Ehman and Gran Petersson, who is now president of ISAF.
“And that’s where on-the-water judging began. A true story.”
For the record, Arthur Wullschleger grew up through the Larchmont Yacht Club in New York, was an outboard racing champion in his college years, and got serious about sailing when he came out of the Navy at the end of WWII. A veteran of 18 Newport-Bermuda races and much more, he lives now in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with a view of Hatteras sportfishers by the acre.
AMERICA’S CUP 1.2
With the entry period closing at midnight, March 31, the Golden Gate Yacht Club has reported to the Event Authority (note my careful phrasing) a field of 15 competing teams including the defender, Oracle Racing.
Five teams remain “undisclosed,” leaving open the possibility that one is a rival defense candidate.
One of the undisclosed is not North Korea.
The announcement on AmericasCup.com: “The current list of vetted and accepted competitors is a geographically diverse field: ALEPH EQUIPE DE FRANCE (France), Artemis Racing (Sweden), China Team (China), Emirates Team New Zealand (New Zealand), Energy Team (France), Mascalzone Latino (Italy), ORACLE Racing (USA), Team Australia (Australia), and five undisclosed teams.”
The Event Authority also announced the schedule for World Series racing in 2011, pushed back from the ambitious, original month of June and conspicuously lacking Newport, Rhode Island. But my friends in Southern California will be happy. The RC44 regatta in San Diego in March established the value of the in-bay racing there:
2011 AC World Series Schedule
August 6 -14
San Diego, California
Dates TBD, to be set between mid Oct. and early Dec.