When leadership needs to make change
Published on February 26th, 2021
by John Burnham, Trade Only Today
Sports teams are in many ways like business teams. And the highest-profile sailing competition, the America’s Cup, is a unique team event that brings together boat design and crew work in pursuit of the world’s oldest international sports trophy. Spending $150 million on a multiyear effort is the latest benchmark, and for all but the winning team, the sting of defeat is brutal — and raises questions.
The U.S. team, New York Yacht Club/American Magic, was eliminated from the competition Jan. 30 after four straight losses to the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli team from Italy. Luna Rossa and INEOS Team UK were then scheduled to race in February for the right to be the official Cup challenger in March against the defending champion, Emirates Team New Zealand, which is hosting the regatta in Auckland, New Zealand.
To discuss lessons learned from the American Magic loss, I called Tom Whidden, leader of North Sails for 34 years as president, CEO and now executive chairman of the board. Whidden sailed as tactician several times for Cup winner Dennis Conner. When I got hold of Whidden, he held up Conner’s 1987 book No Excuse to Lose and said, “Forget what the book says; the title alone is shockingly appropriate.” – Full report