So America is defeated. BMW Oracle is out of the America's Cup, beaten by the Italian Luna Rossa team without ever having led round a single mark of the course in any of the six races of their Louis Vuitton semi-final series. If I'm not mistaken, this is the first time since Dennis Conner first lost the Cup that there will not even be an American team in the Challenger Finals.
What went wrong?
Edward in a comment to my last post on the Cup, bemoans the facts that the BMW Oracle team didn't have a single American flag on their base. Gee golly. Could that be the problem? Somehow I don't think so, as according to this article on BYM News there were actually only three American sailors on the BMW Oracle team. Much as Americans revere their flag, I don't think that the BMWO multinational crew from New Zealand, Australia, France, Denmark and god knows where else would have been inspired to do much better by a few pieces of cloth with stars and stripes on them wafting in the breeze back at the base.
Ah, perhaps that's the problem. Carol Anne in a comment on the same post questions whether it's possible to build the necessary team spirit in a multinational team. Hmmm. Maybe that is the issue. I do have some slight experience on this topic having spent the last ten years of my career building and running multinational teams in a corporate environment. Sure it's tough sometimes to overcome language issues and cultural differences. But Larry Ellison actually boasted of the international character of his team and compared it to his global team in his Oracle business. Surely if you take a group of guys and have them live together, work together, train together, travel together, race together and party together for several years -- and even fit them all out in the same snazzy uniforms -- you ought to be able to weld them together into a cohesive team with a will to win? Or maybe not judging by their dismal performance this week. What do you think?
But before we rush to downplay the chances of multinational teams, let's remember that the conqueror of the American team, Luna Rossa, has a Brazilian tactician and an Australian helmsman to mention only two of the many non-Italians on their crew.
So where does America go next? Geeze I'm starting to sound just like that guy Craig Hummer on the Versus channel with such an inane question. But seriously, what should the USA do if they ever want to win back the America's Cup? In the latest edition of Sailing World magazine, Gary Jobson picks his dream team of Americans for the next challenge, including by the way a fair sprinkling of Laser sailors. Smart guy our Gary. Is that the way to go? A red, white and blue challenge with a pure American team, with some suitably patriotic name like Stars and Stripes or Young America (no more German car company names please), and with plenty of American flags fluttering around the base camp?
Please let us know what you think. Somebody please come up with some ideas. America Needs You.