Ken Read: Spread the word, help build our sport

Published on September 27th, 2013

By Ken Read, North Sails president
The 34th America’s Cup is in the books. The drama was unmatched. A worthy victor with a beyond imaginable comeback. A sad and humble loser, who is anything but a loser. The old adage of ‘someone had to win and someone had to lose’ stands true in this event.

Working on TV is and was a very new experience for me. Fellow commentators Todd Harris and Gary Jobson were terrific to work with. Their roles were hand-picked. Todd has never been on a sailboat. He was there to very professionally run the show, which is no small task with producers and directors in your ear virtually every minute of the broadcast. He made sure that Gary and I didn’t go off into “sailing speak” and lose 2/3 of our audience with sailing lingo that only us sailors understand. Todd was there to be a novice sailor because to grow our sport, we have to speak to novice sailors!

Gary was the tactician and simply told us what it was like to be on the water. He toughed it out every day onboard the committee boat and offered a perspective that we didn’t have in the studio. Todd and I did have five monitors showing us every angle all the time in the booth, but there is nothing like the salt water spray and seeing the puffs on the water and Gary used his tactician’s prowess to relate all that back to the viewers.

As for me, I got to just wing it! They let me try and explain what was going on in my own language. For sure it was a long month and a half and there were arduous days getting up early enough to do my day job with North Sails. Communicating with colleagues in Europe and on the east coast effectively is not easy from San Francisco and I found that out the hard way with very early mornings!

The bottom line is that I think it is crucial for opinion leaders within the sport to continually reach out to existing sailors and non-sailors alike and try to get them interested whether they race, cruise, day sail, it doesn’t matter. I agreed to do this TV adventure because I thought it would be the most effective way possible to spread the word. To reach out and paint our sport in a great new light both as a sailor and as part of the management of (in my opinion) the best brand in sailing, North Sails. For sure the AC participants did their part to make the whole story compelling.

Thanks to all at ACTV for bringing me along on this adventure and to you sailors out there who tuned in. Spread the word, help build our sport. It is up to all of us to make it happen!

Source: North Sails North America

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