High seas entrapment

Two destinies, one dream

For years the only knowledge they had of one another was through media reports of their various business exploits…

Larry Ellison was born in August 1944 in the Bronx in New York and he has all the qualities and the failings of a self made man. Despite a complicated childhood as an adopted child and a number of failures at school, by the age of 30, Ellison had created one of the first computerised databases, which he named “Oracle”. It was a huge success from the moment it was launched, companies snapped it up and Larry Ellison became a rich man overnight. Much like Bill Gates (Microsoft), Ted Turner (CNN) and Steve Jobs (Apple), Larry Ellison is the epitome of the American success story.

Ernesto Bertarelli and Larry Ellison met during the qualifications of the America's Cup, here in San Francisco, before the competition started in New Zealand © Thierry Martinez / OCEAN71 Magazine

Like many rich men before him, Ellison was seduced by yacht racing. Having established his fortune by the 90’s and become a multi-billionaire, he threw himself into sailing and offshore racing in particular. On the water, as in business, the tycoon expected to win. In 1995, he commissioned Sayonara, a 24m racing yacht which he campaigned intensively, winning almost everything. He had a close brush with death during the tragic 1998 Sydney-Hobart, which saw four yachts sink and six sailors drown. When he won the event, he accepted his victory with tears in his eyes. After this, Ellison felt ready to take on anything. Even the America’s Cup.

Ernesto Bertarelli is 20 years younger and grew up in the lap of luxury in Italy and then Switzerland. His family was at the helm of Serono S.A, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in Italy established in 1903. His childhood on the shores of Lake Geneva was charmed and it wasn’t long before he got the sailing bug.  From Switzerland he went to the USA to Harvard Business School and in 1996, became CEO of the family business. Under his leadership, the company shifted its focus from pharmaceuticals to infertility treatment and biotechnology and revenues increased from $809 million in 1996 to $2.8 billion in 2006. The young Bertarelli quickly became one of the 50 wealthiest men in the world and his attention turned to his first passion: sailing and the America’s Cup, the sport’s ultimate prize.

Other files

  • a recreated ancient wreck near Marseille © Francis Le Guen

    Underwater archeology: a dive amid cops and robbers

    Culture4 chapters

    According to UNESCO, there are around 3 million shipwrecks that sleep peacefully at the bottom of our seas and oceans. With the second largest marine area in the world, France has decided to go to war against the plunder of the remaining wrecks. But is it even possible? For almost a year, OCEAN71 Magazine led a lengthy investigation that took us at the heart of the French authorities and the ocean looters.

  • Winds of Change

    Ecology, Economy, Sailing3 chapters

    Over the past few years, a number of traditional sailing boats have returned to their initial vocation, which was transportation of goods. Expectations are high when it comes to greener solutions, especially in the cargo industry that is notorious for its thirst for fossil fuel. OCEAN71 Magazine investigates the truths behind this well marketed business.

  • Gallery The ruins of Jazira Al Hamra © Philippe Henry / OCEAN71 Magazine

    Red Island’s mysterious village

    Culture, Economy1 chapter

    The United Arab Emirates is well known for its passion for extravagant skyscrapers and constructions, its exuberance and its financial power thanks to oil and gas. The emirs even try to conceal their relatively poor nomadic tribes’ history. Along the coast, we managed to find one of the last old villages of fishermen, abandoned. It is said to be haunted…