There have been any number of people who can (and will) critique (OK, criticize) any number of things about the 34th Americas’s Cup. The boats are too radical, they are not mono-hulls, they are too expensive, they are not traditional, people DIE on them, etc., etc. The City of San Francisco can (rightfully) bitch that it was over-sold, and that the America’s Cup Event Authority has under-delivered. After all, 14 boats became, well, 4. Ouch.
But that’s OK, after all, the San Francisco Bay, where it is known to be windy as hell, especially in, well, summer, was still the greatest venue in the world. Except that the Teams decided to go with the “big” wings, instead of the “small” ones. But the big ones catch too much of that wind, and are too powerful for the boats they sit on. So, now, we have “wind limits” for racing. Really? SF Bay is “too windy” for an AMERICA’S CUP RACE? Are you kidding me? What about the billing, we can race in anything “from 3 to 33” knots? Oops?
Then there’s been the Louis Vuitton Cup. Single boat “races”, Jury protests, boycotted races because of “rudders.” No wonder Louis Vuitton wants some of its money back.
And then, the Cheating. Great. Way to improve the image guys!
And then, the Red Bull Youth Americas’s Cup - and the Racing, finally, really began. (I bet Louis Vuitton is really soooo happy about the image of ten – count them, 10 – race boats flashing Country flags on their sails and huge smiles on their sailors, and that big, flashy, Red Bull logo on 20 bows crossing the start line, with five different winners over seven different races, especially when compared to the image of Emirates Team New Zeland sailing about the course all by itself, or Prada doing the same. But that’s another story, right?) What a nail biter the Red Bull series was. “Friendly competition between nations.” Hmmm, Sounds like someone ought to create a perpetual challenge on that basis, don’t you think?
But Louis Vuitton should take heart. After all, on race day three of the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup, I was one of only three spectator boats on the water. Three. And the grand stands, were only about 1/3 filled. The pay stands that is. The free ones, were EMPTY. Go figure.
The broadcast viewing was miserable. ESPN was “sometimes” - YouTube was “sometimes” – NBC was “whenever we feel like it” - and even the Americas’s Cup Virtual Eye crapped out, regularly. And Jobson? Who the hell made the decision that he was to be the “voice” of the America’s Cup? Fire that person. Right now. And, fire Jobson too. Right now.
But keep Stan Honey. In fact, pay him double. Or triple. What an incredibly fantastic job he has done to make the racing interesting to a “TV” audience. Holy Smokes. Did I say we should pay him more already. We should. He’s earned it.
And, come to think of it, the concept of the AC World Series in the 45s was brilliant too. Shove them in a container, in fact, shove the whole Regatta in a series of containers, and ship them (literally) anywhere in the world, unpack and hold a regatta. Fleet racing, one-design boats. Now we’re talking. SF, San Diego, Venice (!). Racing in the canals of Venice. That’s brilliant! Now, we just need to have a race in Sidney Harbor and Tokyo Bay too. Maybe next year. Or four from now.
And why not have AC “teams” be country specific? Because we’re afraid it will become the New Zeland Cup - for 136 years? Well, hell. If the Kiwi’s are good enough to earn it, let them keep it! That’s the point, isn’t it?
Should the AC be mono-hulls? Nope. We’re past that. The America’s Cup has ALWAYS been about fastest, cutting edge. That’s cats. Nat Herreshoff knew it too. (See his patent #189,457 from 1877. Yes, 1877.)
Do you go back to AC45s? Nope. Can’t do that, especially now that they have been relegated to the “kids regatta.” It’s like going to paper plates after fine china.
Do you shrink the wing size but keep the AC72s? Maybe. People smarter than me (and there are a lot) will decide that.
But think about this concept: “National Teams, where the owner MUST be part of the crew (driver or grinder, or after-guard, doesn’t matter). AC45s then? Maybe. Some say that’s not “elite” enough for an America’s Cup Match, that there would be too many “merely rich” guys participating. An elimination series with 50 entrants isn’t high level enough for an AC competition. Again, maybe. Then again, what was that phrase: “friendly competion”?
OK, so enough bitching.
Can the Cup be saved? Now? Can ACEA pull a rabbit out of the hat? Only if the racing this weekend – is perfect. Picture perfect. Not too much wind. Not too much fog. A massive spectator fleet (I’ll be out there...) Full bleachers. A TV broadcast or a web-cast, or a Virtual Eye-cast, that people can actually find, and watch, LIVE. And a dead heat tie between ETNZ and Oracle.
That’s not too much to wish for, is it?