America's Cup, Disasters, Golden Gate Yacht Club, Larry Ellison, Oracle, San Francisco, St. Francis Yacht Club
The America’s Cup race is a match between a defending and a challenging sailing yacht, each representing an organized yachting club. Larry Ellison, the notoriously abrasive and egomanaical CEO of Oracle, early in the 2000s developed a yen to compete for the Cup, and needed a yacht club to represent.
Larry naturally first approached San Francisco’s venerable and aristocratic St. Francis Yacht Club. The St. Francis folks were initially happy with the idea of Larry Ellison flying their club pennon and competing in their name, but when Larry informed the St. Francis Club that he expected them to surrender majority control of the club’s governing board to him as part of the deal, the St. Francis Club demurred.
Larry responded by going down to road to a more modest and considerably more desperate organization, the Golden Gate Yacht Club, a much smaller, ordinary middle-class club, the sort of club a SF fisherman’s family (like Joe DiMaggio’s) might belong to, at the time in the process of going broke. Golden Gate welcomed Larry Ellison (and an additional 100 minions and lackeys) as new members, whose waterfall of dues wiped out the club’s deficit, and in return surrendered board control to King Larry, who does not, it seems, really bother to visit this latest small outpost of his personal empire. When the Golden Gate Club requires Larry Ellison’s attention, they come humbly to his door.
SF Examiner: New Home for America’s Cup
SF Examiner: Ellison Too Good For His Golden Gate Club
The chaps standing around the bar at St. Francis are doubtless having a good laugh today. Larry Ellison’s crew lost it on a turn on Tuesday and pitchpoled (overturned so that the stern pitched forward over the bow) his $8-million 72-foot Oracle Team catamaran.
The results were not pretty. One wing was basically shattered in fragments, and an ebb tide was sweeping the whole mess through the Golden Gate out to sea. Most of what was left was salvaged and dragged back to the dock, but Larry Ellison will be writing a very large check after this accident.