America’s Cup: Silence is not very golden

Published on September 9th, 2014

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
For an event draped in performance and technology, the America’s Cup is plodding along like a Model T. The tag line for the 34th America’s Cup was “The Best Sailors. The Fastest Boats.” The tag line for the 35th America’s Cup? “Hang in there, baby.”

I suspect next year we will look back at our angst for information, for which we now have very little, and smirk at our impatience. But it has been nearly a year since the last Cup was won, and with the eagerness among the stakeholders to promote the event’s commercial appeal, silence is not very golden.

Our hopes for information were again dashed when the entered teams gathered for a press conference in London on September 9. The six skippers, of whom we already knew, revealed very little. The race schedule and venue locations remain a mystery. Even the boat type is subject for debate.

The full replay of the press conference is online, but here are three nuggets to nibble on…

* (1:48) The aspirations for the America’s Cup to raise its public profile now rests on the shoulders of Dr. Harvey Schiller, who has been appointed to the new position as Commercial Commissioner. Harvey is highly accomplished and seemingly qualified for the task, but Harvey is a sailing outsider. Harvey must first overcome history, as many of the non-sailing appointees during the 34th edition failed to grasp the ‘product’ and were dismissed. Said Harvey, “This was a tier one sport way back, and it’s time for it to keep its place in the world with other types of world competitions, and I think we can accomplish that.”

* (16:06) With rumors swirling that the AC62, announced in June as the boat to be sailed in the 35th America’s Cup, will be changed, Defense skipper Jimmy Spithill gave a lengthy non-response on how the sailors are sharing their thoughts and that discussions are occurring, but in closing he said that “right now we have an AC62.”

* (26:56) When Team Australia abandoned their post as Challenger of Record in July, the void has yet to be publicly filled. When Spithill was asked about this, he deferred to Max Sirena of Luna Rossa Challenge. Max explained:

“This will be the Cup of change. We start to put in place a challenger committee. The main reason why, and I pushed pretty hard for that, and had the support of the other teams on the stage, is in the last few America’s Cups, the Challenger of Record has been a big issue.

“To move forward in our sport, we need to do a few changes, and I think we need to work as a group to be able to make the changes sharp and quick, and to work together with the Defender to make a better event for the future – for this one and for the coming America’s Cups.

“We are working as individual teams to put together as this committee, and I think we are at a good stage and we are going to define that in the next couple of days. Again, the main reason is that we need to work together as a group, like other sports such as Formula 1 and MotoGP, to make the rules and changes, and to work together with the Defender.”

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