America’s Cup: Being the host

Published on March 1st, 2018

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
The America’s Cup is both blessing and curse, with winning as the best while hosting is fraught with conflict. Both were blurred while New York Yacht Club successfully defended the trophy twenty-four times, but as no one now holds the mug for long, and with skyrocketing costs, the extremes are… more extreme.

Here are two news reports now impacting the new defender:

Benefit: The origin of the America’s Cup is rooted in nationalism as the competition sought to test the strength of each country. By successfully defending the Cup over a period of 132 years, the USA became a formidable nation of sailing talent and industrial might. To this day, Rhode Island remains a valued hub of boat building talent.

New Zealand has benefited as well, with their 30 year involvement in the Cup equally elevating the nation in all areas of the sport. So it is with confusion now that Auckland’s government officials are looking to kick the legs out from one of its most prominent marine manufacturers – Southern Spars.

Southern Spars employs more than 300 people, supplies 85 percent of the world’s masts for superyachts, has half the market for large racing yacht masts, yet the site it uses to service superyachts has been suggested as an America’s Cup team base.

Chief executive Mark Hauser said there was no alternative location that allowed work on the biggest masts on the biggest boats. “Without it, whether we’d be able to stay in New Zealand, I’m not sure.” Full story.

Tourism: Estimating the impact of pop-up events is economic guesswork impacted by dangled promises of financial windfall. Wherever the America’s Cup goes, bean counters are challenged to determine its value in room nights. That’s the metric all cities love.

When the Cup was in San Francisco, it became comical as event organizers would take credit for the footfall. As one of the most visited cities in the U.S., the activity on the Bay hardly moved the meter. This was also when the event raised the bar on the broadcast, which proved critical as even with such a natural amphitheater, live spectating proved daunting with three mile course legs.

When the Cup moved to Bermuda, the fear of room shortfall never materialized. The territory did claim financial victory, but the benefit of Bermuda was always the broadcast. The time zone was good and the backdrop was beautiful. Why deal with the cost and complication of travel when, honestly, you can’t passionately watch the racing live?

Whereas San Francisco sought to present the racing to the layperson, the Bermuda edition returned the event to the well-heeled. So what will Auckland be? Already the worry is about room nights, or lack of them, as fear is how the City could face a hotel room shortage issue during the 2021 America’s Cup.

But their report is based on the previous America’s Cup events held in 2000 and 2003…before the brilliance of the broadcast. Monetizing live spectating in San Francisco proved a nightmare, whereas the holy grail of commercial conquests is reliant on television deliverability. Will people flock to Auckland as well? Full report.

Key dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
December 31, 2018: Late entries deadline
March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched
2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched
During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
December 10-20, 2020: America’s Cup Christmas Race
January and February 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 2021: The America’s Cup Match

Protocol of the 36th America’s Cup
Key Points of the Protocol
Deed of Gift

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