Thanks to SA’er ‘Francis’ in the Saxophone piece below we’ve already heard how much better the AC folks – with help from NY Organizers – have gotten at the overall ACWS atmosphere – at least if you are on the ground. Unfortunately for the sport and fans of competitive sailboat racing, they seem to have gotten worse at everything else. Here’s what the world – and the Anarchists – had to say about the actual race viewing in Manhattan.
Ben Ainslie echoed the sentiments of all sailors in this piece decrying the ridiculous race management necessitated by choosing an idiotic venue, and wondering how much more the AC is going to sacrifice in the name of the almighty dollar, and how far down on his knees Russell Coutts is in search of the almighty dollar. SailorGirl Nic Douglass caught up with Ben here.
SA’er ‘_____’ brought his family, with a mostly negative review:
We were there on Sunday. The damn buildings…completely wrecked what would have been a puffy enough NWerly. The course was too short. The boats looked like pinioned ducks trying to fly off the pond. The crowd cheered to “let’s hear it for team USA”. Which I found bemusing.
I said to my kids, “I’m cheering for the French Team–I bet there are Frenchmen on it!” Apparently there was a french couple near us that heard me. Not sure they appreciated that bit of boorish Yankee humor–I’ll never know (my kid speaks french but didn’t hear anything other than a few words here and there). There were a lot of foreign languages–I heard French, German, Spanish, possibly Russian. Lots of people there.
I was glad to have seen it, but frustrated by what was obviously a PR spectacle. The Newport event without hydrofoils was much better in last go around–the boats got up to speed at least.
It feels like these toys are expensive, and the guys paying for them need their exposure, and that that is more important than making a viable set of races. Which is too bad. At least NASCAR builds tracks big enough. The ferry terminal with the tarpaulin design got in the way of watching. So did the sculpture. And the buildings on far side problem. Not sure this is such a perfect location. Somewhere else along the river would have been better perhaps. Maybe not really.
‘6924’ snarks in:
I was there all day Sunday, great event, plenty of noobs, plenty of brooze, and beaucoup ladies. My group got pleasantly tipsy, watched a little sailing, and tried to behave adult.
Only a killjoy would complain about the corporate vibe, the stupid courses, the dumb Sh”t commentary, and the overbearing security
They should do this every year – maybe have a night race with flaming torches on board the boats or topless dancers on a barge in the river too.
‘pwormwood’ summed up the wholesale failure of the live racing feed, echoing hundreds of comments on SA and the various social channels. We searched high and low, in three different languages, and still could not find even a remotely positive review of the broadcast, whether you paid for it on the app or watched it on pay TV.
Unbelievably bad TV programming – they interrupted 11 minute races with 2 minute commercials, completely missing the finish of one race and spoiling the ever changing plot in the other two. Then they fill the time between races with fluff bullshit rather than get the commercials out of the way. WTF – the commercials so destroyed the continuity that it was frustrating rather than pleasurable to watch the racing. With three 11 minute races in an hour of programming, there are 27 other minutes for commercials. A normal TV show has about 15 minutes of commercials, so there is more than enough time for commercials without interrupting the racing. It is amazing to me that a good sailor like Russel can watch that hour of programming and think to himself: “I can’t wait for my sailing buds to watch this – they’ll love how we captured & clarified the racing…”. Frankly, I was embarrassed for having invited a sailing friend over to watch it…and I won’t do that again. Fortunately, with the M-32’s, the GC 32’s, the TP 52’s, and even the Stars, there’s plenty of performance sailing to watch that allows you to view an entire race, start to finish. In terms of quality of content, the AC is looking up at ALL of those programs. I was glad to hear that the on-site experience was much better; but you are not going to develop a sustainable financial model just filling the “stadium”. If you’re going to completely bastardize the racing to fit a TV program, you ought to at least make it a good TV program.
In an unrelated note, Longtime SA’er and New York Times reporter Chris Museler stayed away from criticism and grabbed a meaty look at how the young guns were displacing veterans in this piece.
People like the fawning Jimmy Spithill and the foreign sailing press can be forgiven for their ignorance of the realities of New York; the ‘huge crowd’ along the water was anything but impressive to folks who know a hundred thousand new yorkers and tourists will turn out to watch paint try if it’s colorful enough. When we asked a highly respected journalist about the AC’s claim that ‘75,000 spectators lined the banks on Saturday’, he gave us a great answer: “If bullshit were music, they’d be the Kings of Jazz!”
And while surely the handbag-sellers, watch-purveryors, and financial product pushers will be overjoyed with the b-to-b and hospitality trips that New York makes so easy, but by any logical metric, the ACWS New York failed to deliver anything of value to the sport or to a meaningful portion of the public. Friends of Sailing Anarchy at the NYFD estimated around 50,000 people combined over two days, which would be a great number in a small town, but in New York, isn’t much higher than the number that would be through there on a typical weekend. Remember when 50,000 people for the Volvo Ocean Race Miami was a huge failure? New York makes Miami look like a country town, and with the joke of a competition put on by the event, there’s not much to build on when and if they return.
Once again, the Bermuda America’s Cup cycle confirms what we’ve said all along; the greater public, the sailing community, and the sport are all just an afterthought, and you should feel lucky that they give you and the rest of the peons even this piddling amount of consideration. While the in-person experience is worth the trip if the venue allows decent sailing, the rest of the decisions – format, venue, TV and internet, marketing, commentary – are destined for history’s dustbin as soon as someone competent takes over in (hopefully) a year and a half’s time.
Read the ACWS NY thread for the most complete wrapup of the event.