Software wealth emperor Larry Ellison, whose riches can now only be measured in parts of the Earth he legally owns, has reached a new mega-money milestone, the New York Times reports: His plans for the America's Cup sailing race are so expensive, dangerous, and insane, everyone else is quitting.
Sailing has always been a sport of kings and oil barons (unless you were moving cargo around a few hundred years ago or something, in which case, yuck). So it's not like Larry Ellison, whose Oracle tech empire has made him the third richest man in the entire U.S., singlehandedly made yachts inaccessible. But if you're a regular Very, Very Rich Person, instead of an Inordinately Rich Person a la Larry, you might be ticked. Since Ellison won the previous race (remember when he had his son create a commemorative movie?), he gets to set the rules for the upcoming race (yacht racing is just like the rest of society, only on a yacht). Some big changes are on the way: This time, the race will involve a new type of boat, the high-powered AC72 catamaran, which is monstrously expensive, even by international yacht-racing standards. With the AC72s, the Times says, participants will now be able to "foil" their vessels, which means they will fly over the water instead of gliding through it. Put those two factors together, and this happens:
Artemis, the Swedish team, has not decided whether to drop out after its boat capsized during training last month in San Francisco Bay, killing a crew member; Mr. Ellison’s team’s boat was also wrecked when it capsized last fall, though without serious injuries. The teams are considering last-minute changes, including not racing if winds are too high and sturdier helmets and body armor, to improve safety.
QUICK THOUGHT: IF YOUR VERSION OF SAILING REQUIRES BODY ARMOR, PERHAPS YOU HAVE GONE TOO FAR. Unsurprisingly, only four teams have registered for the San Francisco Flying Catamaran Death Rally (compared to the 15 expected). But don't click your tongue: This is Silicon Valley, and if the rich winner wants to make racing so dangerous it kills people, then he will do so, laughing and throwing lightning bolts as his catamaran flies over capsizing Swedes.
Photo of Larry Ellison dumping oversized bottle of champagne on some other guy: Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty