Welcome to the Bluster Cup
Published on February 17th, 2021
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The irregularly held America’s Cup billows with bluster during the build-up, providing enough headlines to heighten interest for the competition. The advance haggling is a vital part of the event, with each team leveraging advantage of this challenge event. Good stuff.
However, when racing is to begin, any further haggling becomes annoying. Particularly in this era of heightened commerce and entertainment, there is nothing interesting about innate details and whiny competitors. And that’s where the 36th America’s Cup is now.
With full respect to Auckland and New Zealand, which has found their way to host the America’s Cup amid the COVID-19 climate, the government required a lockdown due to the discovery of several unexplained coronavirus cases. This was no surprise, such that the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series had a contingency plan on how to continue racing. But then the whining began.
If you follow professional sports, the concept of empty stadiums is what you do when you put your big boy pants on. You play the game, and if it means without fans and their revenue, it’s what you do if you can. But while the America’s Cup is so desperate to be a professional sport, it still can’t shed its history of self-interest to do so.
While the organizer of the Prada Cup, which is Challenger of Record America’s Cup 36 (COR 36), was ready to play on, they needed the cooperation of America’s Cup Event Limited (ACE) which handles much of the logistics which includes self-interest.
In what is supposed to be a competition, ACE was not ready to follow any game plan or pre-agreed rules if it impacted the commercial benefits to local businesses, event sponsors, and partners, along with local fan engagement. If health restrictions impacted revenue, ACE was going to resist.
Much like the competing teams that seek to leverage their advantage, we have organizing authorities doing the same. Whatever momentum the event had got lost in bureaucratic bullsh#t.
With Auckland relieved of its restrictive lockdown on February 17 at midnight, and COR 36 insistent for the competition to continue, ACE relented on February 18 its pursuit of a further postponement. So when will the Prada Cup continue? Not sure…
Without the bluster, there could have been racing February 18, and without the uncertainty, there may have been racing February 19. What looks most likely is for racing to start February 20 and continue each day until the final scheduled day of February 24.
The Prada Cup is the first team to seven wins or the team with the most wins when competition concludes. Hopefully the bluster will end then too.
Prada Cup Final Scoreboard (wins-losses)
INEOS Team UK (GBR): 0-4
Luna Rossa (ITA): 4-0