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the ghost of george schuyler

Editorial

I’m trying to like this version of the America’s Cup, I really am. However, a reality check is in order for those who think speed sells. All one needs to do is look at the You Tube live viewing numbers to know the global general public has yet another collective yawn about the “oldest trophy in international sport”.

I watched the You Tube live feed, looked at the number of live viewers and wondered what delusion is presented to sponsors by the organizers to justify their participation. Maybe the next winner of the Cup ought to think instead of making the term “the most interesting competition in international sport”.

The fanboys will say “well it’s a private event between wealthy men, so they can do whatever they want with the Cup, in every respect”. That is true with a real Deed of Gift Match like we saw in 2010, but in events like this current edition there is significant Kiwi public money involved. To add insult to injury, the rumor seems repeated often enough that if the Kiwi’s win the event they will be put it out to bid, so where does that leave New Zealand? Same place that it left San Francisco after ’13.

Some people scream that the boats are fascinating and the bleeding edge of technology. If that is true, then why is most of the sailing team devoted to only grinding? You might call me a luddite or traditionalist for wanting to see boats that, you know, actually had sails that went up and down and around, which involve precise crew work and give some semblance of visual spectacle far more more so than watching a group of weightlifters grinding in obscurity.

I call you the luddite for not allowing the sport to advance further with power systems that eliminate brute force. Imagine where the sport would be if instead of employing blokes that are just blocks of muscle money was spent on battery systems and precise automatic flight controls. Maybe then NYYC wouldn’t have crashed and been eliminated from the competition before they even had a chance.

It’s clear the way a race will go; win the start, win the race. Almost no passing, ever. How on earth is this interesting to anyone other than a cult member of a given team? The viewing numbers do not lie – the world is saying “we do not care”. Worse, the vast majority of hard core racing sailors I know are not watching, some do not even know the AC is happening this week.

The sport does not need the America’s Cup any more. Where it once was the biggest event in sailing, that is no longer true. The Vendee has a vastly bigger audience and significantly more competitors.

The question that both Dalton and Bertelli need to ask themselves if they win this America’s Cup: How do I avoid becoming a footnote in history as the guy who put the final nail in the coffin of the America’s Cup? Word advice to both – start listening to those of us who used to care, but no longer do.