Posted by at 05:11PM - Comments: (57)
Today, I received an email with the subject line, “America’s Cup: Media Services Update - 1.” According to the email, this was the first official notice to the media regarding the upcoming America’s Cup competition in San Francisco this summer. Nevermind that we’ve been receiving press releases for months—this one is apparently the first of a new torrent bound for our inbox. (It will be interesting to see whether they decide to continue the numbering scheme, which may well work against them: “Media Services Update - 2,322 . . .”)
I’m conflicted. The river—correction—ocean between Practical Sailor and Oracle Team USA is deep and wide. Apart from the gee-whiz technology behind 72-foot wing-sail cats ripping past the Golden Gate Bridge at 40 knots, is there anything in this for our readers? Is there?
Since PS readers truly run the gamut, let me frame the question more narrowly. What worthwhile nuggets can the ordinary island-hopping vagabond sailor mine from an overhyped, luxury-product-billboard posing as a race between billionaires? Well?
Whenever someone raises questions like that, I’m reminded of that classic scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, when John Cleese asks, “Apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system, and public health . . . WHAT have the Roman’s ever done for us?”
So maybe the America’s Cup has strayed a bit from its roots. OK, more than a bit. Maybe I wouldn’t be so conflicted if the whole legal imbroglio that marred the last Cup never happened. But I think the question is a valid one:
What has the America’s Cup done for ordinary sailors?
Let’s face it, the last one was an embarrassment to sailors everywhere. What few stories did make it into the mainstream press here in the U.S. only furthered the stereotype that sailors are a bunch snot-nosed rich kids who won’t play with the rest of us if they can’t win.
Will this year be any different? I am hopeful. For one thing, the host city—while not short on super-wealth—has a pretty low tolerance (by U.S. standards) for elitism and crass commercialism. For another, the boats are wicked fast.
Who would say no to the opportunity to crew, or better yet, helm, one of those machines? Who would say no to the opportunity to be in San Francisco in September, get pampered with the rest of the press corps? Who would say no to being given a front row seat to what is billed as the premier event in sailboat racing?
I would. Really. I've got way more important things to do. I've got two great kids, a terrific wife—and my time with them is flying by way too fast. Besides, we've got plans this summer. The kids have summer camp. My wife, Theresa, and I hope to do another boat trip together. We should have the Catalina 22 in the water by then. (Yes, the interminable restoration project still lives).
I figured I’d leave it up to you. As spring turns to summer, I’ll keep a tally of “yeas” or “nays” posted here. Share this with your sailing friends who you think might have an opinion. Should PS even talk about the America’s Cup? Or is the Cup our equivalent of Lord Voldemort, “He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named?"
Let me know. It’s up to you. I can go either way.
Hmmmmm. Now that I think of it, maybe the whole family could go . . .