I love boats. I love power boats, I love sailboats. I love all boats and almost everything about boating. Everything except the current iteration of the America’s Cup. I just received a news flash about the latest bickering over where the sails are being made, bickering mind you at the New York Supreme Court! It seems to me the New York Supreme Court might have better things to do than listen to a bunch of whining billionaires.
I also love technology and have certainly devoted the vast majority of my career to technology related issues as they apply to boats. But this is all just too much for me. We are trying to grow the public interest in boating as an industry, and we continue to fail miserably at that. The boating industry needs to look at Americans and the buying public and realize that this kind of publicity is a massive turn-off to most poeple.
I can remember a cup series years ago when I was quite involved with high-end sail boat racing. I was sitting in a bar having dinner and the cup races were on the television. The bar was a typical working man’s bar near where I worked at the time and the patrons were all sports fanatics. They did not embrace sailboat racing as I did at the time. The bartender asked if anyone wanted to switch the channel on the TV. Oh yea, it was off to a golf match for that crew. I find golf pretty boring. But golf wins hands down in the minds of so many people because the perception of it is that it is at least affordable, something they can all participate in at some level. Not sailing.
Every few years we revisit the America’s Cup and dig a deeper hole for our industry as an elitist sport for the likes of Larry Ellison and company. Not mainstream, not real, not fun any more. I’ve had it with the America’s Cup. Give me a one design race where all the boats are built to a strict class rule and it is truly one crew against another and you have half a chance of getting some new folks interested. The industry I work in needs to do everything it can to attract new people to the pleasures of boating. The America’s Cup series no longer has any part in that endeavor.