DIVIDED: A publication ponders on how to proceed

Published on March 26th, 2013

For more than 35 years, Practical Sailor magazine has been taking the guesswork out of boat and gear buying with bold, independent boat tests, and product-test reports for serious sailors and boaters. But with racing for the 34th America’s Cup to begin this summer, Editor-in-Chief Darrell Nicholson considers his reader feedback on how much PS should focus on the event…

At this point, the “yeas” have only a slight edge over the “nays.”

Almost all of those who’d rather not see Cup coverage were emphatic: “Please don’t fill your great magazine with America’s Cup dribble. As a cruiser, I have absolutely no interest in it,” wrote one reader.

And most readers who encouraged PS to cover the event did so with reservation: “If you pick your topic, the AC certainly has practical value. For example, when these boats break, how are they repaired? As more boats are made from exotic materials, which structures are found to be more durable, more flexible, more brittle, or less repairable after damage?”

Most agreed that from a spectator’s standpoint, this year’s event, which features super high-tech catamarans, promised to be more exciting than previous Cups. However, as PS Editor-at-Large and Chief Measurer for the America’s Cup Nick Nicholson (no relation) pointed out, this also creates a Grand Canyon-size chasm between the equipment and materials on Cup boats and the boats most of us sail. To make matters worse, the veil of secrecy surrounding much of the “secret sauce” that goes into these boats makes it more difficult for even the snoopiest journalist to know what’s going to be applicable to cruising boats.

“Frankly, these boats are so different from what we usually deal with, that it’s really hard to visualize what may actually trickle down into the world of ‘normal’ sailing,” Nick told me in an email. “Part of the problem now is that much of what they are doing is highly proprietary, and I can’t even discuss it, much less photograph it.” – Read on

COMMENT: With regard to the ‘trickle down’ from the America’s Cup to the mainstream, now that teams are more self-sufficient than in the past, some of what used to come out after a Cup now remains proprietary within the team. Not sure what is less than a ‘trickle’, but that is what we may now have. – Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt

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