A Forbes Best Book of the Year: “Must reading for any yacht-racing aficionado.” —Frank Deford
The America’s Cup, first awarded in 1851, is the oldest trophy in international sports, and one of the most hotly contested. In 2000, Larry Ellison, cofounder and billionaire CEO of Oracle Corporation, decided to run for the coveted prize and found an unlikely partner in Norbert Bajurin, a car radiator mechanic who had recently been named Commodore of the blue collar Golden Gate Yacht Club.
The Billionaire and the Mechanic tells the incredible story of the partnership between Larry and Norbert, their unsuccessful runs for the Cup in 2003 and 2007, and their victory in 2010. With unparalleled access to Ellison and his team, the New York Times–bestselling author of How to Make a Spaceship takes readers inside the design and building process of these astonishing boats, and the management of the passionate athletes who race them. She traces the bitter rivalries between Oracle and its competitors, including Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli’s Team Alinghi—and throws readers into exhilarating races from Australia and New Zealand to Valencia, Spain.
“The Billionaire and the Mechanic opens with a thrilling scene as old as Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ and as iconic as ones from Conrad, Melville, Hemingway and Sebastian Junger: a man battling a dangerously stormy sea. That the sailor, Larry Ellison, is one of our contemporary captains of industry, the swashbuckling billionaire of the title . . . only heightens the drama.” —San Francisco Chronicle
A rich man's vanity is lionized in this hagiographic yacht-racing saga. Journalist Guthrie (The Grace of Everyday Saints) recounts Oracle founder Larry Ellison's quest to win the America's cup, an effort that climaxed in a 2010 victory with a high-tech, $40 million, rigid-sailed trimaran so fast that it left the competition in the spray. When the author sticks to boats and races her account is absorbing there's drama in these powerful, fragile vessels and among the even more highly-strung New Zealanders who crew them for other nations' teams. Unfortunately, Guthrie's focus is too often on Ellison and his swanky digs, Zen posturings "He listened to the wind rustling the bamboo... for a welcome moment, he felt safe" and vacuous drive to win, which egotistical navel-gazing she mistakes for philosophy. The eponymous "mechanic" is Norbert Bajurin, an auto-repair-shop owner who helmed San Francisco's downscale Golden Gate Yacht Club, which Ellison essentially hired to front his Cup bids; absurdly, Guthrie styles Bajurin, whose only role is to applaud from the sidelines, as the billionaire's working-class soul mate. Guthrie's incessant fawning over a plutocrat's pretensions steal the wind from the narrative's sails.