by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The morning ritual at Scuttlebutt HQ finds the editor sitting in the large chair, with a second cup of coffee in hand to begin scrolling through emails and social media updates. And given the current state of the America’s Cup, it was a charge on September 22.
Sorting through the ads from America’s Cup Team New Zealand defender and their club, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, a thought occurred to me, and when I scoured social media, an avid fan of Cup put my thoughts online.
“What a shit show! ”
When controversy is so readily aired publicly, it usually has less to do with transparency and more to do with public relations. As the Kiwi team selects the location for the 37th America’s Cup, I suspect they want their country to understand why they are ultimately hosting the event off the coast.
Although it is an immensely unpopular decision, the Kiwi team need the money to defend themselves and they don’t see enough of it at home. And when the team CEO, Grant Dalton, gets stuck on the subject, and possibly accused of unfaithfully avoiding people who have long supported the team, he returns to his favorite quote from Winston Churchill:
“Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it! ”
It has to do with the 2003 America’s Cup in which the New Zealand side were hampered in their defense effort, being shut out by the Swiss side 5-0. Dalton argues that insufficient funds led to their failures and vows not to let that happen again.
In the land of the Kiwis, there had been an outside effort led by wealthy Mark Dunphy to privately back the government’s offer to keep the event at home, but mistrust had become a point of no return. So offshore, it’s okay… but towards where.
Dalton had listed Ireland, Saudi Arabia and Spain as finalists, but the Irish are now questioning the costs, the world is questioning Saudi human rights history, and Spain is wondering how sell the high fees to their citizens.
After exceeding the September 17 deadline for venues confirmation, potential challengers are getting impatient with the lack of certainty for a match set to take place in 2024. Topping the list is Luna Rossa’s skipper Max Sirena, who wants more information on the next America’s Cup.
“New Zealanders are good at saying a lot and saying nothing,” Sirena said. “We don’t know where the cup will be held, when, with what rules, with how many and which boats.”
Considering that the event’s sales force is tied to the number of challengers, and three teams at AC36 were not enough to meet sales goals, the Kiwi team may have a hard time remembering a part of the past.