a change we can live with?
The absolute shitstorm of meetings, public statements, news reports and lobbying over the location for the 34th America’s Cup is massively it is impacting the goals so loftily sought out by Messrs. Ellison and Coutts.
We’ve gone from an event that will revolutionize the public perception of sailing, that will grab the ‘Facebook Generation’s’ interest and introduce the sport to millions of new people to something that is only going to work if it can be hosted cheaply and easily.
That’s BMW/Oracle’s stated reason for the world’s third richest man ditching San Francisco: The deal left him on the hook for far too much cash if the event didn’t make any money or if the sponsorship dollars didn’t materialize.
We’ve said from the very, very beginning that Ellison could succeed at his goal of changing the face of the Cup and sailing in the US only through a very careful and expensive process that guaranteed maximum eyeballs watching a completely new presentation of the kind of racing that few have ever seen. His success would depend absolutely on a well-prepared and promoted venue, on participation of a half dozen solid teams, and on him paying whatever it costs to bring in network television and fully integrate it with the web and the dozens of new distribution channels.
But something has changed – something big – and it looks as though the team may have given up on the vision, working instead on getting something ironed out in much less desirable and accessible Newport and proceeding with the plans for a traveling circus.
So what happened? Is this the final step of Tom Ehman’s decades-old plan to get the Cup back to Newport where he first worked with the NYYC? Is the team finally getting enough pressure from Grant Dalton and the other CEOs to get it sorted or they are out? Are Larry and Russell sick and tired of trying to do something special for an ungrateful sailing public, or sick of trying to make San Francisco work for a government that didn’t appreciate the opportunity?
One thing is for sure: Considering the volume of cash that Larry Ellison has spent on not only previous Cups but numerous projects throughout his lifetime, it ain’t about the money. But considering the glee with which the ‘yachting establishment’ up in the Northeast is tossing lifelines to Ehman & Co, perhaps it is about something far simpler, far older, and far more in keeping with the AC being unable to escape being an ancient and obsolete competition for the super rich…and not the public. After all, San Fran is like the nouveau riche guy ostracized by the real old money folks that built America…and had their summer homes in Newport.
But hell, who knows? Galway is almost as isolated as Newport, and they had hundreds of thousands of visitors to that small Irish town for the Volvo stopover. Larry can still accomplish his TV-based goals if he gets some good competitors and they sail in the confined waters of Narragansett Bay with innovative coverage tachniques. It could work. Ok, It probably won’t, but it could. So maybe there won’t be billions for a region, but there would be lots of good yachting jobs coming up in Rhode Island, a great time to be the skipper of a rich NYers powerboat or a canvas guy…