Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Western Connecticut, USA
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Re: Interesting Sailboats
Hey Paulo -
I'm an American and I'm from San Francisco, which is, as you note, a superb place to sail. But it is also the case that there has never been any public interest in yacht racing in SF despite the long, rich history of events going back to the 1930's. I raced on the Bay for years and none of my non-sailing friends and acquaintences had any idea such things took place there, even when they could look out on the water and see hundreds of boats.
But, as I've argued before, Americans in general don't care about yacht racing for all sorts of reasons, most of which are good ones. Let me list a few:
1. It is remote from their daily life experience, unlike the sports they grow up with.
2. It is technical and difficult to understand for uninitiated viewers.
3. Unless the breeze is cranking - and sometimes even when it is - it's not very exciting to watch. Neither is chess and nobody watches that either... except chess players.
4. The public perception is that it's a rich man's game - and in the case of the Americas Cup, that's totally correct - and Americans prefer more populist sports. Ironically, sailing is perhaps the only sport where amateurs can compete against professionals and Olympians on a regular basis, and for not much money - e.g., Melges 24, J/70, Lasers, 505s, etc.
The problem with this iteration of the Cup is that Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts imagined they could do what nobody else has ever done - turn sailboat racing into a commercially viable spectator sport comparable to NASCAR or F1 or something. That there was no actual demand for such a thing - i.e., no market niche crying out to be filled - didn't seem to occur to men with egos bigger than the AC72s, zipping along on SF Bay to no effect.
By contrast, the Extreme 40 multihull series has been very successful in doing what it set out to do - provide exciting, low-cost, spectator-friendly racing on a global tour. With a bit more investment in media, the Extreme 40 series would be nearly perfect. I also expect the Vendée Globe to benefit from the increased media investment it will get in the next iterations.
So, when all is said and done, the best thing that could happen to the AC is for Team Emirates New Zealand to win it and take it away from the madness of Larry Ellison and like-minded capitalists, and return it to a focus on competitive international sailing.
We deal in lead, friend.