The America’s Cup has a 140-year-old history of skulduggery. But since 1983, when the Aussies’ secret winged keel helped them take the Cup from Dennis Conner and the New York Yacht Club, good spies have become as important to victory as good sports.
Zip out past Point Loma any day to watch the New Zealanders, the Japanese, the French, the Italians or Dennis training for the May event, and you’ll find a war zone: high-speed inflatable boats packed with huddled figures shooting their video-cams, recording the competition and scribbling in their notebooks. Every day the skies above are abuzz with choppers flying just upwind of some poor yacht, hoping to catch a view as it heels over.
It’s worse back at base. Each team has its own slip posted with guards; New Zealand and Italy have both caught intruders trying to clip their way through security fences at night.
“Every time we launch one of our boats,” says Peter Blake, the Kiwi operations head, “we put divers in the water to make sure no one’s down there with cameras. And if anybody is stupid enough to try to swim in at nighttime,” he smiles, “we have a surprise for them.” Surprise? It’s a blast: an underwater sonic wall--a deafening barrier of sound.
Let’s hope San Diego’s sea lions know there’s a war on.