Turbulent Journey for America’s Cup

Published on July 28th, 2013

The mission of this edition of the America’s Cup was to grow its audience, but most of the attention thus far has come from the issues surrounding the event. The prospect of great racing should help to turn the tide, but as this report in the New York Times details, that shift would need to move a lot of water. Read on…

(July 26, 2013) – The race was scheduled to begin at 12:15 p.m., and fans were expected to pour into the well-manicured America’s Cup Park and line themselves all around the waterfront of San Francisco Bay to watch. Years of planning, promise and promotion were built toward what organizers called “America’s Cup Summer of Racing.”

But this race, like most of the others so far, featured one boat, albeit an impressively majestic and fast one, sailing back and forth across the water. Even the competitors found it a bit laughable — the world’s most prestigious sailing race reduced to a glorified scrimmage.

“Halfway through race 1,” Emirates Team New Zealand posted on Twitter during the event’s first race, on July 7. “No surprises to be leading in a race with ourselves.”

Others were more critical. The San Francisco Chronicle called it “perhaps the worst nautical launch since the Titanic set off across the North Atlantic.”

In its first month, the America’s Cup, returning to the United States for the first time since 1995, has been viewed as a flotsam of broken promises and undelivered spectacle, stained by the May death of a sailor.

Little has gone as planned. Initial hopes were that 15 teams would compete with 72-foot catamarans, but there are only four. Oracle Team USA, the defending champion owned by the billionaire Larry Ellison, has a free pass to September’s finals. Another team, Sweden’s Artemis Racing, returned to the water this week for the first time since its boat capsized on May 9, killing the sailor Andrew Simpson. Artemis hopes to begin racing in August, joining what is formally called the Louis Vuitton Cup to determine which challenger will meet Oracle Team USA in September.

An exciting, vigorous competition was expected by now. Instead, teams are sniping, sponsors are groaning, people are suing, city officials are worrying and fans are not sure what to make of the entire enterprise. – Read on

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