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The Billionaire and the Mechanic: How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed up to Win Sailing’s Greatest Race, the Americas Cup, Twice [Kindle Edition]

Julian Guthrie
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (176 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A Forbes Best Book of the Year

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, co-founder 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.

Julian Guthrie’s 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, Guthrie 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 their 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 is a must-read for anyone interested in the race or this remarkable story.

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Larry Ellison, billionaire founder of Oracle Corporation, the worldwide computer technology company, was looking for a challenge. He decided, in early 2000, to race for the America’s Cup. Of course, the America’s Cup race isn’t between individuals but between sailing clubs; Ellison figured that shouldn’t be a problem. He’d have no trouble finding a club to sponsor him. Turns out that wasn’t as simple as he thought, until Norbert Bajurin, the mechanic of the title and the newly appointed commodore of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, faced with a shrinking membership and the very real possibility that the club might have to shut down, came up with the brilliant idea of sponsoring Ellison. This energetically written book recounts the partnership that grew into a friendship, as Ellison and Bajurin mounted multiple runs for the Cup (they won it in 2010, and that story alone, with its pitched legal battles and their attendant publicity, could fill a book). Published only months before the 2013 America’s Cup, with Ellison’s team defending, the book is sure to spark interest among racing fans. --David Pitt


“[An] excellent book … The story of Mr. Ellison’s decade-long effort to win the Cup and bring it back to the U.S. under Golden Gate’s flag is worth telling, and Julian Guthrie, a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, tells it well.”—Wall Street Journal

“Splendid … Guthrie crisply sketches the complex process that was required for Ellison to establish his own position in the top ranks of yachting and organize the winning team in 2010. A thriller of a tale and a worthy scene-setter for this summer’s trophy defense in San Francisco Bay.”—Kirkus Reviews

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. … [The Billionaire and the Mechanic] succeeds as a lively primer, history, and up-to-date soap opera, full of local color, leading up to the America’s Cup races in San Francisco Bay.”—San Francisco Chronicle

"Julian Guthrie's riveting book takes readers deep into uncharted realms, from the extremes of the ocean to the sublime connection between two singular men. The Billionaire and The Mechanic is a wondrously detailed story, beautifully told, by a writer who understands both the intricacies of human nature and the immensity of the natural world."—Susan Casey, author of The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean

“Surely the most comprehensive book ever written about an America's Cup challenge, The Billionaire and The Mechanic will surely be must reading for any yacht-racing aficionado."—Frank Deford

“From the opening scene in this book—and scene is the appropriate word for its cinematic beginning—the reader is swept along on heart-thumping rides on swift, dueling sailboats, past an assemblage of characters worthy of Dreiser, past the shoals of deceit worthy of Dickens, and coming to rest on the formidable character of billionaire Larry Ellison, who has the will-to-win of his best friend, Steve Jobs, and of a mechanic, who made winning possible. Julian Guthrie writes as if with a magic wand, holding the reader spellbound.”—Ken Auletta

"[A] product of first-rate reporting. . . . A riveting account."—Sailing

"Energetically written .... sure to spark interest among racing fans."—Booklist

"This is one helluva great read. Larry and Norbert - beautiful dreamers both, men with faith in their ability to convert them to reality. This book is fascinating; it informs, educates and entertains about the longest continuously contested trophy in all of sports. This is a must read for lovers of sport, and particularly for sailors.”—Bob Fisher, author of An Absorbing Interest: The America's Cup—A History 1851-2003

"Larry Ellison's America's Cup victory was as improbable as it was inevitable. The same is true of his alliance with radiator repairman Norbert Bajurin. In this absorbing page-turner, Julian Guthrie tells us how they came together to make history."—G. Bruce Knecht, author of The Proving Ground: The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race

The Billionaire and the Mechanic is pumping with adrenaline and yet full of subtle, surprising details about both sailing and one of the most mysterious, controversial characters on earth. This book is tirelessly reported and Guthrie has a rare writing gift to tie it all together into a work of literary journalism that reads like a thriller.”—Jaimal Yogis, author of The Fear Project

"If you're interested in the America's Cup competition, or in sailboat racing generally, you'll love this book. Julian Guthrie's taut and fascinating behind-the-scenes account of the colorful personalities, the risky development of astonishing new boats, and the hair-raising racing tactics of Larry Ellison's long campaign to win the trophy is necessary background reading."—Derek Lundy, author of Godforsaken Sea: A True Story of Racing the World's Most Dangerous Waters

"A gripping tale of world-class competition and strategic gamesmanship. . . . It will have enduring value as a great story in its own right."—Sail World


“An up-close tour of how the world’s fifth-richest man spent hundreds of millions of dollars, and hired and fired the best sailors on Earth, to win.”—Forbes

Product Details

  • File Size: 5580 KB
  • Print Length: 338 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0802121357
  • Publisher: Grove Press; Reprint edition (June 4, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #233,807 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
While I have never followed the sport of racing yachts, I have always loved the science and technology involved in the creation of these amazing machines. I picked up this book for technical information and to be wowed by the details of making the world's fastest non-motorized boats, but instead I found a beautiful story of the inner workings of an America's Cup campaign.

There was quite a bit of detail and it was obvious that much research went into the making of this not-so-short book.

The book started out by alternating the stories of Norbert(the mechanic) and Larry Ellison(the billionaire). This system kept the story moving while the background information was laid out. The stories throughout were compelling and relevant, but the initial story of the Sidney-Hobart Race is what drew me in and forced me to read the book despite it not being what I expected.

The author does a good job at explaining the intricacies and difficulties of what is happening so that the reader can truly appreciate the magnitude of the project.

I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in yachting, big races, or monumental undertakings.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Accidental Gybe? December 5, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
While this book provides plenty of insight into America's Cup racing, the trade-off is just not worth the value. Too much of Ellison's hand is in this book and it reads like a one sided cell phone conversation and then the final few chapters read like something out of People magazine. There is also a hidden mean spirit here as some very respected professional sailors get seriously dissed in this book, unnecessarily so, most likely impacting their careers. I would highly recommend skipping this book.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you're an America's Cup fan... October 8, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Indulgent. Hyperbole in excess. Over the top. The Billionaire and the Mechanic are all these things, and yet I loved it. Do I believe Ellison took the reins in the Hobart race to save Sayonara at a critical point? Nope. But do I think he has sailed in the arena, paid his money and taken his chances? How many of us would come back after 2 losses in the Cup to finally win, then spend another fortune to make sailing more accessible to the sporting public with the spectacle of AC72s and unprecedented TV and multimedia coverage? This book gives, in albeit a slanted view, an inside perspective on it all.

Flawed, but if you're a Cup junkie you need to have this on your bookshelf. And if you're a hater, hide it in your Kindle... but still get it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
say what you want about Larry, but he has a pair. The story is no less amazing even when you know the outcome. in the final section on the 2013 Cup, I rewatched every race then read the corresponding coverage in the book. Great fun.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great story about overcoming obstacles. March 3, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love good lessons tied to activities I like. This ties business practices and sailing. I couldn't put it down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
An incredible, but true tale of Larry Ellison's ultimately successful battle to win the America's Cup. This is a great read with lots of successful and unsuccessful battles on many fronts.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Esteban
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book is excellent, and the entire quest for the cup is really fascinating. I thought I knew a lot about it before, but I was wrong, great fun book to read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a great book that draws you in quickly February 24, 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There are many lessons on life to be learned from this book. I found it to be very inspirational and motivation for me and my dreams.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Sold read for those interested in sailing
First positive portrayal of Ellison relative to what's out there Definitely worth reading As a STFYC member someone really missed a huge opportunity
Published 12 days ago by Steve
5.0 out of 5 stars ... and have watched and followed the Races I really enjoyed it! At...
Being a sailor and have watched and followed the Races I really enjoyed it! At times could not put it down!!
Published 14 days ago by susie
5.0 out of 5 stars Quick and easy
Lots of interesting details. Quick and easy read
Published 25 days ago by R.B.L.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Well written, interesting story
Published 1 month ago by Nancy Keppel
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I finally figured out how the American team won the America's Cup, a fascinating read. Aloha, Peter.
Published 2 months ago by Peter Spear
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great detail on changes made to win the cup
Published 2 months ago by Charles Mack
5.0 out of 5 stars And don't believe it is easy, it is very hard
OK, disclosure: I am a member of the St Francis Yacht Club.
Then the book: well written, entertaining. I learned more from the book than from my club... Read more
Published 3 months ago by JB Duler
4.0 out of 5 stars I found this book to be quite enlightening of Larry's ...
I found this book to be quite enlightening of Larry's life and mindset. Plus the behind the scenes of the America's cup was very interesting.
Published 4 months ago by Lynn Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars This story interested me. Had to read it.
Haven't read this book yet, but the story looks great. Had to buy it to read the story
Published 5 months ago by Taheetna
3.0 out of 5 stars Sailing melodrama
Good: Easy read, interesting characters, good sailing drama

Bad: A love letter to Larry. OK for his wife, not OK for his biographer.
Published 5 months ago by Adamant
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