Look in the mirror: This is the America’s Cup

Published on July 10th, 2013

By Mal Emerson, guest commentator
The current controversy surrounding the 34th America’s Cup is peanuts compared to many of the past squabbles. The money involved, including sponsorship and the resulting profits from that sponsorship, is also peanuts compared to many of the pre-war Cup matches.

Lack of challengers? There was only one in every contest from the 1870’s to 1970; only one. If there’s only one this summer, and practically speaking that may well be the case, that will still be representative of much of the Cup’s history.

It is about money, big money, and always has been. The pinnacle of most any sport is. Why is that fact continually demonized by the sailing establishment?

Will there be a resurgence in sailing as a result of the 34th America’s Cup? I doubt it, but that also is not the America’s Cup, and has never been. Despite that, I’ll bet there have been more people directly exposed to the America’s Cup as a result of what has already happened in AC 34 than likely all the past America’s Cups combined.

Has the current contest lived up to the hype? Certainly not in terms of participation but it certainly has in terms of performance.

The AC45s were great. I’ve attended all but one of the US AC World Series events and comparing any of them to the 2000 Cup match I attended in New Zealand, the racing viewed from the water was far superior and the racing viewed from land was obviously infinitely superior. Even the non-sailors I met were excited about it. They often didn’t understand it but were quite interested anyway. The commentary as seen on TV and the Net has brought a modicum of understanding and interest to even those that have never touched a sail boat.

As to the current squabble, where is Sir Lipton and his brand of sportsmanship when you need it? I really expected the New Zealand team to soldier on without any sour grapes, and I suppose when compared to Prada, they have. I’m a bit surprised at the Italians shooting themselves in the foot so early. What is that saying about big dogs and staying on the porch?

Don’t take this wrong; I loved the 12 meter and the IACC contests, but I really think they were the aberration in the history of the Cup. I think the two Deed of Gift matches (1988 and 2010), and what is happening now, are far more representative of The America’s Cup.

I wonder if the sailing establishment will ever get on board and represent AC 34 for what it is: the best sailors on the best boats in the best venue with the best access for the most to view in a contest for the longest continuously running trophy in history.

I have my doubts.

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