what’s good?

I was asked on the forums whether I though the America’s Cup was “good”.

Not quite sure exactly what he meant by good (thanks Kiwing for getting the grey matter working) but it got me to thinking

Whether you like or otherwise the America’s Cup and the various goings on is immaterial. It places, in some jurisdictions, sailing in the media in “non-sailing” areas and in my mind any publicity that lifts our sport out of the Sports Pages is no bad thing.

Whether those comments in the media from non-sailing journalists, who may not even know the sharp end from the blunt end, is positive or negative it raises the intrigue amongst non-sailors whose interest might just be piqued enough to give sailing a try or at least watch the event. 

Ipso facto the AC is definitely good.

I have been an unashamed fan of AC since around the time of Bondy’s attempts to wrest The Cup from NYYC. In fact to such a degree that I have a copy of “An Absorbing Interest” by Bob Fisher which is by far and away the definitive history of The Cup all the way up to AC32 (I can hardly wait for Volume 3). Now that comment alone might cause some disagreements particularly amongst other authors of the AC history.

It is not light reading but it does make one realise that all the tricks and politics are certainly not new and basically go all the way back to 1851. 

I am not sure if the will they/wont they situation with some teams not yet entered is a good thing and, with the infrastructure required, and the expense of running The Cup, more teams are better for the defender. 

Over the history of The Cup the bulk of challengers have been privately funded – it is, and basically always has been a big boy’s game down through the years without corporate $ input played by people passionate about sailing – and of course conscious of the financial benefits their raised profile would bring. Whether amongst the defenders the likes of Vanderbuilt or the challengers like Sir Thomas Lipton whose grocery business’ profile was certainly enhanced by his challenges and ultimate award of a losers trophy funded by ordinary Americans. (His story is another good read – “The Man Who Challenged America”)

Emirates Team New Zealand largely broke the mould with the corporate funding model with, for example the previous two holders being largely funded by individuals. (Some pundits reckon that Larry Ellison spent USD1Bn of his own money to win, defend and lose the America’s Cup.)

For the record I DO like the America’s Cup and think it is a good thing for our sport. My opinion of whether the choice of boat it right or otherwise is immaterial, in some ways by being “out there” it causes further interest, in other ways there are the traditionalists who would prefer – well – tradition.

BUT the game has usually been played in the ‘high-tech’ boats of the time whether the Big Boat Class, or boats with quadrilateral jibs, duralium masts or built with exotic materials which anecdotally ‘fizzed’ when in the water so in some ways the current AC design is just today’s version of a Ranger or an A2. 

And regarding the comments about The Cup being tainted? Man up Russel, you are not the first. 

I am sure people thought the cup was tainted when Oracle tried to build a ‘club‘ for the next event amongst the challengers in the edition that was running, or when Alinghi tried to establish CNEV as CoR, or NYYC tried to have A2 ruled out because she was Dutch designed (they claimed) all the way back to Lord Dunraven and his supporters when he was ruled against or the NYYC’s  multiple defenders with the most suitable one declared only on the morning of racing depending on conditions.

Nobody does our sport any good at all when they openly criticise what they see as competing events. The only potential (at it was always only a potential) challenger NOT going to be in Auckland because of SailGP is Oracle itself and who is to know if they would have challenged in any case and SailGP has not this far sucked up one cent of sponsorship that would otherwise have gone to an America’s Cup team.

For one set of supporters to state that SailGP is damaging the America’s Cup and for the other side to claim the America’s Cup is in any way not what it should be does, in my humble opinion, our sport a severe dis-service if for no other reason that sponsors like to be associated with stability. Any sort of spat, real or perceived, between two of World Sailing’s special events is not in the least bit healthy for the image of our sport with all the potential ramifications that brings.

What would be coolest would that the non sailing world wakes up to how modern, high tech and intense the pinnacles of our sport are and not something that is just enjoyed by old guys in Breton caps, fisherman’s smocks while sucking on their pipe.

So in answer to the question if I think the America’s Cup is ‘good’? Well most certainly sir!