Friday, January 29, 2010

RIP America's Cup and Good Riddance

There's much wringing of hands in the blogosphere and elsewhere today about the latest turn of events in the America's Cup. If Larry wins his latest challenge claiming that it is against the rules for Switzerland to compete with American sails then Ernesto will go home and sulk and let Larry have the Cup. It's "depressing"; it's "disastrous"; it's "terrible for sailing" the pundits are saying.

I beg to differ...

The America's Cup has always been an anomaly, an outlier in the world of sailing. I don't accept it is the "pinnacle" of our sport in the same way that Wimbledon, say, is the pinnacle of tennis, or the Boston Marathon is the premier event in the world of long distance running.

At Wimbledon and Boston the participants are playing the same game in the same way using essentially the same equipment as us mere mortals. They just play the game a lot better than you or me, and we can admire them for that. On the other hand, the America's Cup has always, always been about exceptional boats using latest technology financed by extremely rich individuals using every weapon available to them (including lawyers and PR men) to tilt the playing field their way if they possibly can.

The America's Cup does not represent the sport of sailing that I play in any meaningful way. The sooner the whole event dies an ugly death, or failing that is recognized as irrelevant to the true sport of sailboat racing, the better as far as I am concerned.

On the other had if the match does go ahead I will be watching it with bated breath. I can't wait to see those two massive multihulls smash into each other at a combined speed of 100 knots.

RIP America's Cup.

Good riddance.

Update 4:30 pm. Apparently Justice Kornreich agrees with me. She wants to see the monster multihull smash-up too, so she won't decide on the challenge about the legality of Alinghi's sails until after the racing. Yeehow!


Turinas said...

Yes the AC does not truly represent the pinnacle of sailing but that's because we are involved in the sport and take other events more seriously. But to people who are outside the sport, the AC is the most famous event and most watched and written about sailing event.

Sailing is in long-term decline and this doesnt help.

EscapeVelocity said...

An AC boat is way cheaper than a football team.

I would like to be able to watch sailing on TV (without getting cable), but I can do without the other characteristics of more popular spectator sports. Collegiate sailors actually graduate.

Mike said...

As one of the many little guys who just enjoy messing about in boats I’d like to say that it is not the AC itself I shall be happy to see the end of but all the wrangling in court and the endless reports, articles and blogs about it.

As for Adam’s assertion that sailing is in terminal decline, I would suggest that it is not a decline in sailing itself but a decline in the interest in reading about the big money end of sailing.

There are plenty of little guys like me who are members of little clubs have little boats and just enjoy messing about in them.


Pat said...

Had I been made the Czar of the Cup I would have had Ernesto and Larry single-hand West Wight Potter 15 yachts off Cape Horn in July. Something about sinking two albatrosses with one stone.

claire said...

The AC isn't about sailing; it's about a few ultra rich guys whose egos are the size of the sails on these technical atrocities.

my2fish said...

escapevelocity said:
I would like to be able to watch sailing on TV (without getting cable)

I believe that the AC will be able to be viewed live over the internet, so you won't have to have cable:
America's Cup on TV

cheers, my2fish

my2fish said...

oops, link doesn't seem to be working.
2nd try:

Zen said...

Frankly my dear I do not give a damn.

Carol Anne said...

Here in the Southwest, we got the VOR on broadcast TV on public television. In Colorado and Arizona, it was in English; in New Mexico, it was in Spanish.

bonnie said...

I nearly fell out of my cubicle when I first saw the sails thing over on Messing About in Boats.

And speaking of boat races...just in case it's of any interest to anyone, Sebago Canoe Club's 2nd annual Laser regatta is on May 22nd this year!

David Fuller said...

Turinas is right - whether you like it or not, the Americas Cup is the most recognisable event in sailing worldwide. No other sailing event gets the mass-market coverage that it receives.

Despite the court room rubbish and the non-standard nature of this cup, the event pushes the boundaries of sailing - it innovates and the R&D developed for the Americas Cup makes its way to all parts of sailing.

Its a shame that the sport of sailing has so many people who dismiss it. Many people who muck about with a tennis racquet still watch the US Open or Wimbledon. Many who hack around with a golf club on a random Monday watch the Masters or the Ryder Cup, even though they will never get there.

Rather than walk away from the America's Cup, those who love sailing need to reclaim it and build some pride in the sport so others might be inspired to try it and halt the decline.

Pat said...

At least in theory, someone with talent and a modicum of coach-ability can advance to the top in many sports.

But the AC of late has become literally the preserve of billionaire egos, with an even higher threshold to entry than in the past, and I really don't see a whole lot of effective avenues for ordinary sailors to help "reclaim" the cup.

Despite the impressive technology and the great power, speed, and maneuverability of a Cheeszilla or a Dogzilla, it's harder for the ordinary sailor to identify with the present cup syndicates and their captive armies of attorneys than it is for most other sports fans to identify with their heroes.

It's almost beyond humiliating that some sailors may be able to identify better with Mike Tyson, Michael Vick, Tiger Woods, Pete Rose, Tonya Harding, or the current stars of World Wide wrestling or roller derby, better than with, say, good 'old boy Ernesto.

And I want to be very very careful to state clearly that in this context I mean absolutely no disrespect to the * athletes * mentioned in the previous sentence, many of whom had great talent and overcame huge obstacles despite whatever controversy their lives may have engendered.

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