Visiting the Oracle

Ed Gorman spoke to Peter Holmberg about life in Larry Ellison's team
OneWorld had a big funding crisis, now passed, Prada has the problem of having done it for possibly too long, Alinghi are trying to do it from scratch. And what about Larry Ellison's Oracle? Of the big four Louis Vuitton Cup challengers, Ellison's stands out at the moment for three wrong reasons; political in-fighting, hardware failures which have disrupted its sailing and testing programme and the plan for Ellison to owner-drive. madforsailing spoke to Oracle's Peter Holmberg, one of the Oracle 'afterguard' and a potential driver for the team, about all of these issues and he tackled each of them head-on. Perhaps the most sensitive is the owner-driver plan which some of Oracle's rivals keenly hope will come to fruition. Driving an ILC maxi like Sayonara, they say, is no qualification for driving in the Louis Vuitton Cup, especially with the America's Cup class apparently so close to its design optimisation limits. Of course Ellison, who is thought to be spending $80-100 million on his programme, can do whatever he wants. But reading between the lines, you get the sense that his probable self-selection onto the sailing team will be intermittent and that, if he does drive, it will be only 'under certain conditions'. That could mean, certain weather conditions, certain stages of the championship or perhaps only certain stages of any individual race. In reply to the question: Is there a place for owner-drivers in the Louis Vuitton and America's Cup 2002-2003? Holmberg told madfor sailing: "Larry Ellison is a proficient driver under certain conditions and, if he wants to try and drive during the America's Cup in these conditions when he does a great job, then I think that's great of him - it's his right. I'm comfortable with the fact that Larry's a smart man and he's not going to jeopardise