Ronstan

America’s Cup: Will a Nationality Rule Overcome Self-Interest?

Published on January 9th, 2014

A hot topic for the 35th America’s Cup is the nationality rule. It is notable that at least 11 World Championship titles were won in 2013 by Americans, yet the ‘American’ defender Oracle Team USA had only one American among their winning crew.

Certainly when reporting on the 34th America’s Cup, the races between Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand required careful wordsmithing.

A story could comment on how the “Kiws” did this or the “Kiwis” did that because 10 of the 11 crew were Kiwis. But when it came to Oracle Team USA, a report could never state that the “Americans” won. How could it?

When surveyed whether a nationality rule would impact the interest in the event, the results strongly indicated that it would…

76% – I would be more interested; I want to cheer for a country
20% – It would have no impact
4% – I would be less interested; I want each team to have the best sailors regardless of nationality

But when the rules are created by the defender, we fall back on a classic line offered by AC legend Dennis Conner: “Bet on self-interest. It’s always running.”

Here’s what the defender has said…

Oracle Team USA CEO Russell Coutts
“In a marketing sense I think it would be a significant improvement for the event to have a nationality rule for the sailing teams. … It’s understandable (to the fans) to have country against country.”

Oracle Team USA’s general manager Grant Simmer
“I’m an Australian and have worked for a Swiss team and an American team. These teams are truly international, and I like that part of it. I think we should continue to have international teams. I know that there’s been talk of wanting to implement a nationality rule, but I doubt GGYC will do that.”

Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill
“I think people should be on the boats based on talent, not the color of their passport.”

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