AC34: Nothing Comes Without a Price

Published on June 17th, 2013

The aspirations for the 34th America’s Cup have never been higher. Amid the event’s storied history, this edition wanted to be “more” in just about every category. The sailors have never been better, the boats have never been faster, but it is the entertainment element that the event has reached furthest.

The month of July was supposed to be the opening act of AC34, providing a round robin series of races amongst the challenging teams. With the high winds of the summer, the opportunity to gain fan interest was significant. But instead, uncertainty rules the day following the Artemis Racing training accident on May 9 that destroyed their boat and killed crewman Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson.

The team has struggled to regain its footing, and is eager to continue with their campaign. But their challenges, which will severely affect the race schedule in July, have adversely affected the entertainment element of the event. While others would like for them to bow out gracefully, they are sportsmen eager to compete. It is a confusing environment for them, but it is the cost of converting a competition into a show.

Artemis Racing sailing director Iain Percy discusses the team’s intention to carry on…

“It was a terrible day when we lost Bart, my best mate and everyone’s friend here within the team. It is still a shock for a lot of us. But we are a strong team, and in some ways we are a stronger team today. We came together, and one thing we were all very sure about was we didn’t want to end with this being our final chapter. We owed that to Bart, to the teammates, and to the owner.

“Our decision (to stay in the competition) was an easy one. We’re sportsmen and we’re America’s Cup sailors. And we want to compete in the America’s Cup. It’s a fantastic competition. We all support it. Our owner really supports it so we want to be a part of it. It’s going to be a great event here in San Francisco so I think it will be right for Bart and for the team for us to be out there.

“We have a lot of successful people here in all areas, but this was something that none of us had to deal with before. Losing a friend is very different to getting revved up for a competition. So for us it’s been very strange and disappointing to not understand that people see things differently from us. We want to get out and race and we can’t see why that wouldn’t be good for every team in the event.

“We find it strange that people want to stop that but it doesn’t deter us in any way. We have our processes and our own challenges without trying to be stopped by the opposition. We want to leave that behind and get on with trying to support the event and get our team out on the water.”

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