The Risk with “Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Yachting

Published on May 22nd, 2013

Not everything is book-worthy, but the 34th America’s Cup is definitely book-worthy. It has all the elements. Success, failure, Larry Ellison, history, newcomers, Larry Ellison, politics, and now death. Heck, the book hardly needs the racing for it to be riveting.

A recent report by Joe Eskenazi in the SF Weekly could be the book’s outline. Here’s an excerpt…

It started with a vision of 15 sailing teams out on the water. Now there are four – and the Jonas Brothers.

Andrew Simpson’s death exposes the macabre paradox undermining the sole element America’s Cup cheerleaders and haters could agree on – that the spectacle of massive boats hitting damn near a mile a minute within a few yards of shore would be exhilarating.

In order to maximize the new experience of near-shore yacht racing and create a television audience for an event normally as engaging as chess, organizers pushed the AC72s. There have never been ships like these hulking, cutting-edge marvels – and, now, there may never be again.

Their vast power and speed – and the ever-lurking possibility of a fantastic smackup – were selling points; your humble narrator witnessed an America’s Cup official showing a gathering of marine professionals a five-minute “highlight reel” of oversize catamarans colliding, flipping, and sending Lilliputian crew members hurtling into the sea.

This is the essence of “NASCAR on water.”

Perhaps in the future, TV networks might pay to put America’s Cup races on the air – instead of the opposite, which is now the case. The marine professionals, however, didn’t seem overly enthused by the notion of Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Yachting, and it remains to be seen how the nautically challenged take to the event.

The great risk is that the America’s Cup is now too NASCAR for the yachting crowd and too yachting for the NASCAR crowd.

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