The Billionaire and the Mechanic

How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed Up to Win Sailing's Greatest Race, The America's Cup, Twice

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With exclusive access to Oracle CEO Larry Ellison over more than a year, Julian tells the dramatic true story of a decade-long quest to win the America's Cup, the oldest trophy in international sports and sailing's greatest prize. She tells of the colorful history of the America's Cup, the behind-the-scenes technology and material science race, and the human story of the builders, engineers, and sailors who make it happen.

There is insider sailing gossip, yacht club drama, a spotlight on the athletes who perform under pressure and those who cave, and the high-stakes international showdowns on the water featuring the superstars of the sport. There is the building by Ellison and his Oracle Racing team of the largest wingsail ever created, a wing too tall to fit under the Golden Gate Bridge, big enough to span a football field, and as fragile as an egg.

Julian also brings to life the story of an everyday hero, a car mechanic named Norbert Bajurin who is commodore of a blue-collar boating club and who dreams big and forges an unlikely partnership with Ellison. Bajurin finds his life changed in ways he never imagined. There are rewards that come with the unexpected partnership and friendship with the high-flying billionaire — and there is a price to pay.

The Billionaire and The Mechanic is for sailors and non-sailors, for anyone interested in what it means to chase a dream. And the story provides a more textured portrait of Ellison than anything that has been written before.

The Today Show

Julian on NBC News

Bloomberg series (no longer active)


Ken Auletta
Author and New Yorker media critic

"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 so vividly that the reader is held spellbound, from page one to the end."

Kirkus Reviews

"Victory came in 2010 when USA-17, Ellison's state-of-the-art, carbon-fiber composite boat regained the cup after failures in 2003 and 2007. San Francisco Chronicle staff writer Guthrie’s (The Grace of Everyday Saints: How a Band of Believers Lost Their Church and Found Their Faith, 2011) splendid elaboration of the victory also encompasses the history of the race and the competitors and their boats from its beginnings in the mid-19th century. She marks off clearly which parts of the team's success were due to luck, which to money, and which to skill and superior technology, and she ably captures the parallel competition between men and their boats and the power of nature working through ocean and weather. Guthrie presents the successive challenges Ellison had to overcome as he developed the skills, the team and the technology that could tame the waves and human competition. Part of her story involves the organization of a kind of insurrection in the elite world of yacht clubs. Working with radiator mechanic Norbert Bajurin, commodore of San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club, Ellison took on both privilege and inherited wealth, as represented by Ernesto Bertarelli and his Swiss Team Alinghi, which had won in 2007. Their 2010 rematch brought together some of the same leading competitors from Ellison's first attempt in New Zealand in 2003. 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."

Frank Deford
Senior writer, Sports Illustrated

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

Susan Casey
Senior editor, O Magazine
Author, The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks, and Giants of the Ocean

"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."

Jaimal Yogis
Author, The Fear Project, and Saltwater Buddha

"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 or literary journalism that reads like a thriller."

Bob Fisher
Author, An Absorbing Interest: The America's Cup - A History 1851-2003

"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 sports. This is a must read for lovers of sport, and particularly for sailors."

G. Bruce Knecht
Author, The Proving Ground: The Inside Story of the 1998 Sydney to Hobart Race

"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."

Gary Jobson
Sailing commentator, America's Cup Hall of Fame

"The America's Cup has a long history of unlikely partners teaming up to win the oldest trophy in sports. Examples include, financier JP Morgan and skipper Charlie Barr in 1899 and 1901. Another successful partnership was Charles Paine and Edward Burgess who successfully defended three times (1885, 1886 and 1887). The team of Larry Ellison and Norbert Bajurin continues this theme. The Billionaire and the Mechanic is a compelling story that serves as another example of what can be achieved when dreams are lofty and every detail is completed with precision."

A Forbes best nonfiction book of 2013

Wall Street Journal
The Race Behind the Races

San Francisco Chronicle
The Billionaire and the Mechanic

Men's Journal Magazine, June issue
Larry Ellison's Obsession

Wall Street Journal Blogs
Documentary on America’s Cup is an Ellison Family Affair

San Francisco Business Times
Larry Ellison's private America's Cup party

Sailing Magazine
A sailing billionaire’s perk: getting yelled at by the best