Time to pump the brakes and reset

Published on July 21st, 2021

Since the first competition in 1870, the America’s Cup has been an evolving competition. But whereas the storied history has shown it to be a design contest, the recent narrative has been to create a show too. For Chris Collings, somebody is missing the boat:


The America’s Cup doesn’t belong to the highest bidder, it belongs to the club that won it last. Period. That may sound dumb, but it’s the core truth. As soon as it goes on the road it degrades into a rich guy’s trophy hunt and Sail GP is already failing there.

The disconnect between America’s Cup defender Team New Zealand and Auckland council as well as the national government is even more frustrating after reading the complete report.

Parking and traffic through the city has been a complete mess since they started digging up the streets for expanded subway and bus lanes. When I was in Auckland in February 2020 just before the pandemic border closures, nearly half the streets had been reduced from construction and several main arteries where dug up completely for a new underground metro system.

Traffic congestion into Auckland has been “first world bad” for years and the current infrastructure work made it worse. If planners are disappointed with onsite visitor numbers, maybe they should consider the stinking mess Auckland streets are currently.

The report also shows that AC36 was the most watched ever (thanks to social media). That’s a home run! Sailing has been relegated to true believers for years because it’s, well, boring to watch. Not this time! AC36 turned this into must-see TV!

It’s time for every one of the stakeholders to “pump the brakes” and reset. Large events are now covered by multimedia, fans are engaged from where they are – not just on site, and a once “boring” event has found new fans and viewers

The answers for a successful America’s Cup event are not the same as in the past and now include the tools we have learned to use over the last 18 months.

Use the 110 page report to focus on the highlights and success. Stop trying to frame the event in past context. AC37 will happen in a post pandemic and post traditional sporting event world. It should be raced again where it was won – period. Time to figure out the details – Don’t get left behind by your own success!

Sorry to whimper on but this is really sad for sailing.

Editor’s note: The reported viewership numbers had smart people in the USA shaking their heads, for if the data was correct, the America’s Cup would have been prominently broadcast with eager advertisers rather than relegated to a pay-per-view platform.

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