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a missing link

wheatley’s world

a missing link

I’m loving the Tim Jeffrey inspired evaluation series in Valencia although I’m not surprised that there are some tricks being missed. Whilst the evaluation of mono versus multi is deeply fascinating (yawn) it is the decisions that Russ, Tom & Larry make regarding venues that will determine the outcome of this Cup. Looking at the last day shots of the Tour de France a la Voile off Marseilles, you cannot ignore the fact that big breeze equals photogenic and video excitement. If you look at Fremantle in ’87, it was the venue that was the winner and the ultimate decider of whether the event was a success, not the lead mine 12 metres.

Here’s my blueprint for a Cup circuit. Stick them in fixed winged multis, fully camerared up with all sailors microphoned. The mic goes off – you’re disqualified. Get rid of all sailing electronics and weather data feeds and only allow a digital countdown for the starting sequence. Host four day events at 10 venues around the world starting in January 2013 – the only stipulation for the venue is that it has to be windy. Races should not be started in under 20 knots of breeze. The four day week starts with a practice day on Thursday and then moves to timed qualification on Friday around pre-determined laps that test boathandling more than outright speed. This decides the pecking order and entry points for the weekend’s racing. The weekend is an elimination with three boats on the racecourse (not two). The racecourse focuses on short legs with reaching starts and carnage at the first bear away mark (ie the first corner) and is held within sight of the shore. Winner takes all and the boats are whittled down to two finalists. On water umpires and no recourse to an off-water race committee. You break, you’re out, that’s life…

The other thing that we need to do is make superstars out of the sailors. Sailing is so good at being demure in the media and almost apologetic that this has to change. As I’ve said before, I want good looking dudes, not the circuit weary morons, buffoons and beefcakes that are on the current pro circuit. We need more hype and we need personalities – I’m thinking F1 here and the primadonnas that occupy that sport. Fresh blood needs to be injected and the boats need to fortune the brave. This needs to be a dangerous circuit with frightening closing speeds and the ever-present risk of serious injury. The boats need to be capable of 30 knots reaching.

Looking at boats and camera angles is great and I applaud BMW Oracle for doing the evaluation but it’s the venue and the hype that makes an AC. I think San Fran as the final stop is great because it’s windy so let’s make sure all the others are in the same mould. Venue evaluation is the absolute key to this global circuit. Make it windy with big waves and you have TV gold dust on your hands. Do it in sub 20 knots and you may as well forget it, we will all be watching golf….