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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 organizers.

Louis Vuitton Cup banner on the parade route through downtown Auckland

For more pictures see the Louis Vuitton Cup Parade Photo Gallery

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 Harbour


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 party entrance

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 burgers.

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 the radio


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!

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