This article started off like any other, but as it went on our disappointment in the Defender and Challenger started turning to anger. While the politics of the America’s Cup might be fun for some, the impact on the sport is starting to become tangible. To an outsider, the fights and court cases are impossible to understand and neither side seem to acknowledge any responsibility to the wider sailing community.
[cleeng_content id=”679933279″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]The media have been out in force during the last few days covering America’s Cup boats, with particular interest in those on board. But the event was not in Valencia and Messrs Coutts, Butterworth, Ellison and Bertarelli were nowhere to be seen. The reason for the press interest was not sailing itself, rather that Prince William was on the helm of an Emirates Team New Zealand boat during a royal tour of the antipodes.
Meanwhile in Valencia, the news from BMW ORACLE is that their boat, now renamed USA, has sailed for the first time in the Spanish waters. Normally a race team sailing a boat would not be news, but since we are more used to news about sandpit spats and court cases, it is indeed novel to hear news about on the water activity.
Of course, just because USA is sailing, does not mean that the backroom antics are over. Quite the opposite in fact. Alinghi have refused to sign what has become known as the ‘Singapore Agreement’. BMW ORACLE have started more legal action in the New York Courts to get a ruling on the ‘constructed in country’ fight. Alighi have issued new rules and notice of race and like a Pavlov’s dog GGYC have issued a statement crying ‘unfair’.
Meanwhile, the date for the first race is 18 days away and the sport’s most recognisable event is a shambles. The war between these selfish clubs and their representative teams is doing more and more damage to the sport with every open letter and every public disagreement. Competitors trying to raise money for sailing campaigns from the World Match Racing Tour to Open60s are coming up against negative attitudes created by the America’s Cup mess. To an outsider, it is inconceivable that the event in a sport with most public awareness could appear so disorganised and unprofessional.
From a sponsorship point of view, sailors the world over are being put into the situation by professional marketing people of having to answer the question “What is going on with the America’s Cup?” It gets harder and harder with each day to try and defend how the sailing community has let the situation get to this. The total disregard for fans and the rest of the yacht racing industry is now having a real impact on the livelihoods of non-america’s cup sailors and the sport as a whole. While both sides can continue to blame each other for breaking the ‘rules’, these arguments mean nothing to a non-sailor. For those on the outside and the general public, the sport is made to look foolish, unprofessional and petty. Both sides have to take (equal) responsibility for that.[/cleeng_content]