You remember the old classic, right? “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water” is one of the most famous taglines of all time, while the movie kept some of us from swimming at the beach for a lifetime. Well now, just a day after the America’s Cup got back in track with a sound Jury decision, ACEA boss and perennial foot-in-mouth Kiwi Stephen Barclay muddied up the waters just enough to confuse the world yet again.
Barclay said in a statement that ““This means racing can continue if the teams abide by the existing Class Rule and the Safety Rules…” The full statement is some of the most mealy-mouthed shit we’ve read from an organization with a serious communication deficiency; it barely acknowledges a powerful smackdown from the Jury, and doesn’t acknowledge at all that two of Murray’s overreaching ‘Safety Rules’ are completely invalid – something the public already knew. Do they think they’re fooling anyone, or is the culture of defensivity so strong inside ACEA that they are simply incapable of admitting they were wrong?
Worse, this statement, combined with ACEA’s seeming unwillingness to accept an embarrassing loss and move ahead, adds confusion back into a situation where the public and media were finally beginning to understand what’s going on. Barclay, an old engineering university pal of Coutts, and ACEA communications staffer Tim Jefferies, an old business associate of Coutts, don’t seem to understand the most basic of PR facts: When you confuse people or fail to give them accurate information, at a minimum they learn to dislike you, and more likely, they make up their own explanations for what they see. The public’s dislike means they ignore you. The press’s dislike means they rip you apart. According to a few influential AC reporters we’ve spoken to, the lack of clear information combined with the smug, bitter attitude which seems to infect most of Barclay’s statements, are the main reasons the media are tearing the AC apart at every opportunity.
While even some of AC Anarchy cleverest members don’t quite understand what Barclay’s release means, we think we do; so let’s try a little Barclay channeling. Here’s how we’d have said it: “With just two days until the first race between ETNZ and Luna Rossa, there is not enough time to modify the Marine Event Permit to reflect the Jury’s decision invalidating two of its safety provisions. However, since ETNZ and Luna Rossa currently comply with the MEP conditions, they are authorized by ACEA and the Coast Guard to race this Saturday. The Regatta Director expects to revise the MEP to reflect the jury’s decision no later than XXX date.”
That wasn’t that hard, was it?