wings: you know, for kids

ac breaking

wings: you know, for kids

Anyone who was lucky or sneaky enough to grab a peek at the old GreenComm boat hidden away in a shed in Venice this week likely saw a glimpse of the familiar blue, silver and red logo of Red Bull, and we’ve been digging for the rest of the story for almost two weeks now.  We’ve finally gotten most of it, just a day ahead of a big announcement in San Francisco, despite the new deal being the most tightly kept secret in the usually leak-ridden world of the AC.  So here it is:

Thursday, America’s Cup organizers will announce a comprehensive partnership with Red Bull for the creation of a new Youth America’s Cup event, or series of events, in AC45s.  The rumor mill (mostly thanks to Pierre at VSail and a few Anarchist riggers onsite) has at least two AC45s already purchased (or long-term leased) by the energy drink maker, and one of them – the GreenComm boat – is already covered with what we’re told are some damned sexy graphics in Venezia.   Rumor is that their purchase or lease will include not only the two boats – we assume the second being Aleph’s old ride, but probably the rumored-to-soon-be-defunct China Team, as well as several of Oracle’s 45s.

Until the end of next year’s ACWS, we’re guessing that the two heavily-branded Red Bull 45s will be used to train up ‘youth AC sailors’ whatever that means; probably 25 and under, or given the fact that the existing fleet already has quite a few youngsters in it, 20 and under.  They’ll also probably enter a few AC45 events once they’ve proven themselves, and once the sideshow that is the ACWS has ended and the 72s are in full training and race mode, a fully branded Red Bull fleet will begin formal Red Bull Youth America’s Cup racing.

We emphasize that this last bit is a lot of speculation, but its based on sound intel and makes a ton of sense for both the AC and the drink peddler.  First and most obviously, has there ever been a better platform for a product with the slogan “It gives you wings!”?  Second, Red Bull has a history of sponsoring things that can be near-death experiences for young people.  Third, Red Bull has been sponsoring an Extreme 40 for a couple of years now, and according to the reps we met in Boston last year, they love it.   Fourth, they saved a lot of US marketing dollars when they dropped out of NASCAR earlier this year.  Gotta spend it on something.  Fifth, Coutts has been very quiet about the “Youth AC” talk that was so prevalent when he was trying to win support for the San Francisco plan.  When things go deathly silent that’s not generally a sign that a concept is dead:  Usually, it means someone is doing serious negotiation.  And finally, despite their shortcomings, Larry genuinely wants to bring sailing to an entirely new group of younger people.  Short of hiring an NBA team race an AC45, there’s probably no better way to reach a giant group of active kids than to bring in the Red Bull circus.

Check the AC Youth Cup thread to get up to speed on the wheres and whens, and stay tuned to this page for more breaking news on Thursday morning from San Francisco.

If the story title goes over your head, check the clip, with props to Tim Robbins for one of his greatest roles.