[cleeng_content id=”125148866″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]Only a few days after the America’s Cup Event Authority inked a deal with Louis Vuitton and the long time partner expressed their satisfaction with the strategy to keep out the pretenders with significant payments, the organisers of the elite sailing trophy have drastically reduced the entry fees and performance bonds. The desire to have more than four boats in the competition has proved to be a stronger driver than the size of a team’s bankroll.
The news was revealed to the yacht racing industry at the World Racing Forum in Portugal that the entry fee would be drastically cut by over a million US dollars. Originally the entry fee was set at USD1.3million payable in April 2012, but now the amount is just USD $100,000 though it must be paid 10 months earlier.
The Performance Bonds have been cut from USD $3million to just USD $1million.
Of course it’s hard to sell television for an event that only has a few teams and the more countries that enter, the more territories are likely to buy rights. The decision may have been rewarded in the last few days with an announcement that Australia will challenge for the Cup.
Australian Syndicate to Challenge for the America’s Cup?
An Australian syndicate including Ludde Ingvall, skipper of the YuuZoo Big Boat Racing Team, has announced that they will challenge for the next cup. However, the story has only had limited exposure and there are irregularities in the statement that don’t seem to line up with the new process. Ordinarily, the America’s Cup Event Authority have been quick to endorse such entries with official press-releases, but we haven’t seen anything. Australian newspapers are also sceptical.
The press-statement is perhaps a rallying strategy to raise investment and support. Ingvall says:
“Excellence in youth sailing is my objective. We want to bring home the many talented Australians sailing for other countries and give them a chance to compete for their country. We want to create a legacy for future generations, something to aspire to, a reason for any Australian youngster to get out there and take part in our wonderful sport of sailing at all levels.”
The syndicate have high hopes for the challenge, but some statements are a little strange. Project manager Dario Valenza says optimistically:
“Bringing an event to Australia would rival Oprah’s visit in tourism value as well as boosting Australia’s marine industry.”
The statement refers to a well publicised tour of Australian by perhaps the world’s most recognisable woman. The day an America’s Cup sailor can be recognised by first name only is a long way off. As for the tourism value – Winfrey’s show is syndicated to 215 TV stations across the U.S. and 145 countries around the world. Many sailing events claim this, but the difference is that people actually watch Oprah.
Nevertheless, an Australian entry in the America’s Cup would be a good thing. As syndicate member and multi hull expert Peter Baker says:
“Australia has been the challenger at seven and the defender at one of the 33 America’s Cup events so far and has sought to challenge on three other occasions. Australia has provided America’s Cup teams worldwide with more members than any other nation in modern times. We want to bring them home. The last America’s Cup was won for the USA by an Australian skipper on a boat designed by an Australian racing against another boat designed by an Australian for a Swiss team. Yet Australia has been out of the game for 13 years.”
For Australia not to sign up to the New-Deal America’s Cup would be a blow for the architects of the vision for the future. The syndicate is looking to be a host for the annual America’s Cup World Series as well.
Ingvall is banking on Australia’s national sporting pride to deliver a nationalistic campaign – something that is missing from many of the recent teams.
“We want to get everyone working together to make possible a true people’s challenge for the benefit of all Australians. The new format America’s Cup is a once in a lifetime chance to jump to the front of a sporting and technological revolution. Being part of the America’s Cup also means bringing races to Australia, fantastic for tourism and the chance for Australian fans to see their team in action. Our aim is to engage the Australian public, corporate Australia and Australian sailing institutions such as yacht clubs and associations. We are undertaking due diligence with well respected business advisors reporting on the economic impact of taking part in what is the third largest sporting event in the world.”
We’ll wait and see. The same syndicate promised big things on the social media front in 2009 with their entry into the Sydney Hobart Yacht Race. The reality didn’t quite get there.
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