1912 – 2003
Tall and elegant with a twinkle in his eye, French businessman Henry Racamier became part of America’s Cup history in 1982 the moment he agreed to sponsor the official ‘’Challenger Races for the America’s Cup’’ organized by the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron (the Challenger of Record) in Newport. Later, in the summer of 1983, he presented the newly created Louis Vuitton Cup to the winners, John Bertrand and Alan Bond.
The decision to associate Louis Vuitton with the America’s Cup was a logical and clever one: Founded in 1854, LV was a contemporary of the Cup (1851). Over the following decade, until he stopped holding the reins of Louis Vuitton, Henry Racamier was passionately dedicated to the association between Louis Vuitton’s culture and history and the America’s Cup, and historical personalities such as Sir Thomas Lipton and Harold Vanderbilt were clients of the firm.
When the following America’s Cup began in Fremantle (1986-87 series), the Louis Vuitton Cup was established as a major sporting and media event in its own right. With Bruno Troublé as Racamier’s right-hand man, the Louis Vuitton Cup, supported by a strong team, became a full-fledged organization within one of sport’s marquee events.
Henry Racamier’s previous professional life was not spent at Louis Vuitton but rather as Chairman and owner of a successful steel company. It was through his marriage to Odile Vuitton, great grand-daughter of the founder, Louis, that Henry became involved with the company, and upon the death of his father-in-law, Georges-Louis Vuitton in 1976, he joined Louis Vuitton as Executive Chairman at 65, an age when most decide to retire, bringing with him his dynamic and modern management style.
Soon after his arrival, Henry Racamier transformed Louis Vuitton from a prestigious but quiet 132-year-old artisanal family business with three shops into a leading global luxury brand listed on the Paris and New York stock exchanges in 1984. Under Racamier, revenue and profitability increased 25-fold in less than 10 years. In 1987, Racamier founded LVMH, merging the Louis Vuitton group (Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Veuve Clicquot, et al) with Moët-Hennessy.
When Henry Racamier left the chairmanship in 1992, the Louis Vuitton Cup was in full swing. Louis Vuitton continued to support the Challenger Races and the American’s Cup until 2017, the longest association for any brand with any event in the world of sports.
Bill Trenkle is among the leaders who exemplifies what racing in the America’ Cup symbolizes. He was part of both winning and losing campaigns and had an excellent reputation for his skills and integrity.
If one were to describe Bill Trenkle in one word, it would be “loyal.” He raced and worked with Dennis Conner in eight America’s Cup campaigns over a 24-year stretch from 1979 through 2003, winning the America’s Cup three times. During that period, Trenkle evolved from a “possible” crew as a Cadet at the State University of New York Maritime College (Class of 1980) to Conner’s long time Director of Operations. In his book, Comeback, Conner said, “Bill is a seaman in the finest sense of that term. He understands from both an academic and a practical standpoint what it takes to make a boat go. Give a job to Bill, any job, and you know that it will be done to perfection.” That is high praise from a demanding skipper like Dennis Conner.
In the early days of his Cup career, Bill Trenkle was a sail trimmer, first on the tune-up boat, and then on the varsity team for the 1986-87 series in Fremantle. As a port tailer aboard the victorious Stars & Stripes ’87, Trenkle had an eye for fast-sail shapes, possessed lightning reflexes, and, most importantly, could consistently anticipate what Conner would do with the helm. Conner recalled, “I never once had to say a word about sail trim.”
Using his degree in engineering from the Maritime College, Trenkle assisted in the project managing of the construction of the three 12-Metre yachts for the 1986-87 series, and the huge, innovative wing sail for the Stars & Stripes catamaran in 1988. Since 1996, Trenkle is President and Director of Operations of Dennis Conner Sports. No job was ever too big or too small for Bill Trenkle, earning an excellent reputation in the America’s Cup community.