Friday, August 26, 2005

EMPTY CUP (Thank you Herb)

Following is an excerpt from a story by Herb McCormick, the editor of Cruising World magazine. Posting anothers writing is a first for me but, as I hope you will agree, McCormick has captured it so well that attempting to extrapolate would be useless.


Of the 12 syndicates competing for the next Cup, four have a prayer of actually winning the thing. The two real favorites--the defender, Alinghi, bankrolled by Swiss billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli; and the top challenger, Oracle BMW, the sole U.S. representative, backed by software tycoon Larry Ellison--will have spent upward of $300 million before the first race is staged a little less than two years from now. Three. Hundred. Million. Dollars.

Yes, the America's Cup has always been about money. But only recently has the money become so obscene.

It'd be one thing if the Rich Boys had a little flair, some of the gumption of legendary Cup loser Sir Thomas Lipton or the controversy of Aussie rogue Alan Bond. But by all accounts, Bertarelli and Ellison are two, well, loathsome individuals. Want proof? Late in the game, they conspired to change the rules to suit their needs to ensure that Coutts, one of our era's most accomplished Cup sailors, doesn't sail in the next event.

And for the first time in three decades, good old Dennis Conner will sit this one out; he's been priced out of the competition. The New York Yacht Club? Nowhere in sight. The Aussies? Not this time, mate. The Brits are taking a pass, even on the heels of back-to-back successful Olympiads and the wondrous exploits of a wee lass named Ellen MacArthur. For them all, it's the same old refrain: No cash, no splash.

Don't get me started on Valencia, which was chosen over several windier, classier possible venues. Or the silly "Acts," which are supposed to generate interest in the interminable lead-up to the Cup itself but instead have been monumental bores. Or the fact that there are precious few Americans on Ellison's Kiwi-studded "American" team.

Which is sad, because the America's Cup, to me, used to be pretty cool. All in all, I reckon the Swiss should've stuck to cheese.


Videos by Professor Howdy said...

We work like a horse.
We eat like a pig.
We like to play chicken.
You can get someone's goat.
We can be as slippery as a snake.
We get dog tired.
We can be as quiet as a mouse.
We can be as quick as a cat.
Some of us are as strong as an ox.
People try to buffalo others.
Some are as ugly as a toad.
We can be as gentle as a lamb.
Sometimes we are as happy as a lark.
Some of us drink like a fish.
We can be as proud as a peacock.
A few of us are as hairy as a gorilla.
You can get a frog in your throat.
We can be a lone wolf.
But I'm having a whale of a time!

You have a riveting web log
and undoubtedly must have
atypical & quiescent potential
for your intended readership.
May I suggest that you do
everything in your power to
honor your encyclopedic/omniscient
Designer/Architect as well
as your revering audience.

Please remember to never
restrict anyone's opportunities
for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,

'Thought & Humor'

P.S. One thing of which I am sure is
that the common culture of my youth
is gone for good. It was hollowed out
by the rise of ethnic "identity politics,"
then splintered beyond hope of repair
by the emergence of the web-based
technologies that so maximized and
facilitated cultural choice as to make
the broad-based offerings of the old
mass media look bland and unchallenging
by comparison."

Zephyr (Sail) said...

Ummmmmm - thank you very much kind sir for these profligate words of encouragment. And howdy right back to you!

Anonymous said...

Er, back to the cup...

IMHO: The original thoughts are right on the money (pun?).

With millions of people dying of starvation and disease, pouring billions of dollars into this is a a cruel folly.

I've wondered, what the heck was wrong with the 12 meters?

More affordable, they were 'real' boats that didn't fall apart in 20 kts of wind and the close tactical manouvers were exciting.

You'd think at least they could put a 'cap' on what each campaign can spend per year to level the playing field.

Anonymous said...

I think that the last Cup series that I took any interest in was the Koch victory in '92(?). Since then, all of the obscene amounts of money and increasingly poor sportsmanship from all parties involved has eroded my interest. And since team members now jump from syndicate to syndicate and there are Americans helming foreign boats, it's no longer America vs. Another Country, it's this billionaire vs. that billionaire. This has drained the last bit of interest that I had. I just don't care anymore.


Anonymous said...

Have to agree with the last two replies. I love sailing, but I will only watch the Cup itself, the buildup is way overdone. I don't even read the Cup articles in the monthly mags. It's a spending contest, not sailing.

wingssail said...

Ok, A contrary opinion:

I still love the whole AC circus. I don't think the acts are a bore, I think they have been interesting, and have been fun to follow. No, they don't mean that much, with old boats, and little impact on the eventual cup competition; they are just sailboat races, but with the neatest big boats, heaps of talent. It's the big time buoy racing, folks, why be so down on it?

The cost?
I don't care where these fat cats blow their money, it's theirs. Is the cost keeping out entries? Doesn't look like it to me. To have four teams with a real chance is pretty good.

The change in format, in the font chosen for the logo?
Hey, loosen up a bit gents.

Coutts and Cayard out?
Yeah, that's too bad, but who cares, there is plenty of talent sailing these boats, and these two and the others who couldn’t get along with the owner, and now can't sail, well, they are big boys, they can cut it, and I can still enjoy AC racing without them.

For every bad aspect, (I too would enjoy national teams) there is a good point to be made too, the change has opened it up for more teams to complete from more countries. This has leveled the playing field. Without it, the Kiwis would simply own the cup for the next 151 years or so.

You don’t like their choice of venue, well, opinions, like assholes; everyone has one. It’s a venue. It’s got water and some wind, and I’m giving the guys who selected it the benefit of the doubt.

Ellison and Bertarelli
Yeah they are slime balls and arrogant. So what, you’d rather have a crook like Bond or a mouth like Ted Turner? Conner is gone, yeah; lots of guys from the past have aged out. Big deal.

You know what? For all you guys who are bored, they aren’t holding this event for you, or for the elitist’s in the media, nor are they doing to make a buck. They are doing it to feed their egos and to try to win or keep the big prize. And it is sure paying the salaries for a lot of sailors, designers, builders, etc. I like to watch them do it. If you all don’t, switch the channel.

And Herb, maybe you need to change with the times, things don’t stay the same, and…there is no going back. It’s OK.

Zephyr (Sail) said...

Ha! Bravo Wingsail...I was wondering when a contrarian would weigh in. I still think Herb is right to lament the overall direction of the Cup contest but a lot of what you offer up - particularly the "if you have an issue change the channel" type commentary - is spot on. And you hit the crux of what we're really discussing at the end of your comment. Times truly HAVE changed and like it or not - there's no going back. True to form people who have cherished the Cup contest in days gone by are not going to be pleased by what they see (and I have to put myself in that catagory) but what's evolving surely reflects the values and priorities of the day...and though it bears all the marks of our era, big money, big egos, poor sportsmanship and go fast boats that fall to pieces in a matter of years...are these attributes really that unique to 2005? Well maybe the boats falling apart but not the rest of it...

Anonymous said...

You know, we are concentrating on what the Cup series means or has meant to us, but as I think about it more maybe we should be more concerned with what it means to the sport. I would be willing to bet that John Q. Public's only exposure to the world of competitive sailing is the sarcastic commentary on the Cup races that is shown on ESPN SportCenter. I just don't think that the way the syndicates behave these days paints a very good picture of our sport, and may potentially turn off newbies because they'll think you have to be a Rockefeller to even contemplate getting into sailing. Which I guess is ultimately fine, because I really don't want all of the cognitively-challenged Jet Ski crowd to decide that they want to attempt sailing in the same waters that I ply. So I have officially changed my mind. Keep up the good work Larry and Ernesto! I will be anxiously not watching you guys make asses of yourselves.