I am not much of a sports fan, my stepson tells me great statistics about Football, I nod politely, but it means little to me. Basketball is equally an anathema, not understanding it, well it looks silly. Why have the basket so high that only really tall people can play? Why not put the basket height at 5 feet? That way everyone could join in! Baseball is just as mind numbing!

The one sporting event that I do enjoy is the Americas Cup. Or at least I used to. The cup has a long and interesting history. It has always been about innovation. Who can build the fastest boat. Who can innovate? Sure much of it seems pointless and boring to the average person, and even to the average sailor. Yet it really does have a trickle down effect on sailing in general.

The latest re-invention of the worlds oldest sporting trophy has been mired in controversy for several years. No one with two synapses firing is not unfamiliar with the concept that the AC is about money. Oh not the prize money, there isn’t any, The money is needed to fund the campaign.

It used to be a classy event. I was involved with the AC in the early 90’s. It exuded class. The Louis Vuitton people, including Bruno Trouble were all classy, OK the folks from the defender side were slightly different, Dennis Connors looked like an unmade bed, and Bill Koch made few friends by his antics on and off the race course. But the bottom line was that everyone had respect, and everyone was part of the game.

We fast forward a little over 20 years, and find ourselves in San Francisco. The Cup is a shadow of its former self. It has disintegrated into a mockery of sailing. While it is great to see 72 feet catamarans hitting 50mph, it is a truly pointless exercise.

I seem to recall being told four years ago that this AC was going to be the big one! Lots of teams, great media coverage, and accessible to fans as the entire course is inside San Francisco bay.

Media coverage is zip! No one cares. The AC organizers have reached the stage that not even the Shopping Channels would entertain the idea. The best coverage you can find is a rather badly put together YouTube option.

The huge fleet predicted has been reduced to just 4. And one of those has yet to hit the water.

There is little doubt that the 2013 Americas Cup will be named San Fiasco.

It is such a shame, the concept of huge Cats hauling ass at 50 MPH sounds so much fun. Of course there are elements of this that don’t work well in the classic Match Racing format. The traditional starting box becomes a joke. These beasts are too mean to handle a good jostle in the pre start. Once over the start line, it becomes a straight Drag Race.

Are we seeing the end of a 162 year old trophy?

Simon Barrett

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