Please select your home edition
Bakewell-White Yacht Design

Gladwell's Line- Media crunch in the America's Cup

by Richard Gladwell on 17 Jun 2014
Oracle Team USA skipper, James Spithill with Emirates Team NZ's Dean Barker - Media Conference, 34th America's Cup Carlo Borlenghi/Luna Rossa©
The America's Cup has dominated the sporting and general media, in New Zealand at least, for the past week, polarising fans and others.

Team New Zealand scored an own goal, with a media conference at its base in the Viaduct harbour, Auckland, last Friday, Black Friday, which resulted in a lot of skewed and sensational reporting.

The media group at the conference were split in two - those that were focused on the sailing and getting the Team's view on the new Protocol, and those more interested in the Team's financial state.

Oracle Team USA's attacks on their opponent were without precedent. While they could have been understandable in the context of a media conference at the AC regatta, at this stage of the America's Cup they were nonsensical.

This is a time when the Defender, if they are genuinely trying to create a more commercial event, should be working with the teams to improve the event. Instead, it transpired that they had not even spoken to the last Challenger, and instead had used television and radio interviews in NZ to attack Team New Zealand. To what gain?

The attacks were backed up with social media grenades from two of the US team.

What was achieved?

For sure Oracle has succeeded in rattling Team NZ's cage, and has managed to drop them in it with the NZ Government funders, forced a rift with many of the NZ public, and couldn't have done more to get a top competitor out of the next America's Cup.

Time will tell if they have succeeded.

Team NZ erred in the media conference, by answering question on their financial state, and particularly questions on funding and sponsorship applications. They should have completely closed down that line of questioning, as has always been done before.

Few in the general media understand how the funding and sponsorship cycle works in the America's Cup, and they amply demonstrated that ignorance on Friday.

Calls for New Zealand to get out of the Cup, start an alternate event, publicly declare team salaries and expenditure just demonstrate again that lack of America's Cup background knowledge - and their readers, viewers and listeners deserve better.

Even more disturbing is the tendency, quite prevalent overseas, to run a dramatic, cliche-ridden introduction to a story in order to pull the viewers' attention, when the report that follows is quite balanced and accurate.

The Protocol for the 35th America's Cup was announced, or rather emailed, early last week. It did contain some very serious flaws. Several of these were quickly addressed a couple of days later, and now the document is more workable - particularly given the mechanisms that are there for changes.

The document is still remarkably short on timing, and doesn't even say the year the next America's Cup will be held, let alone the dates and venues for any of the preliminaries and the Match itself. There would be a lot of blanks in any sponsorship proposal relating to the 35th America's Cup, and going to a potential backer looking for money in 2014 just makes a Challenger, and the Event, look half-arsed.

Oracle Team USA did cop a lot of criticism over the loaded document, particularly as much of what they had accused former Cup holders, Alinghi, now seemed to be in the 35th Protocol.

It is easy for the media and others to recall the lofty ideals, and volumes of indignant assertions, made when Oracle were the Challenger, and in hot pursuit of Alinghi through the New York legal system. We hoped for better. In the first edition of this Protocol, Oracle seemed to have out-Alinghied Alinghi. Suddenly all Oracle's legal umbrage in 2007-2010 sounded rather hollow.

Turning the other cheek, Team New Zealand came out on Black Friday and said that the amended Protocol (Version 2) was now workable. A statement that has now been acknowledged by Russell Coutts. Hopefully, this sorry saga has finished, although the damage had already been done to Team New Zealand.

But in the final analysis, what doesn't kill Team New Zealand will make it stronger.

Moving on:
While the hard words were being said, and motives were being questioned, Most media missed the fact that Oracle lost another three of their First XI America's Cup winning crew.

A total of five who sailed USA-17 to victory, in September, have gone to other America's Cup teams. Those who remain are the Australians, Kiwi Joe Spooner and the sole US national, Rome Kirby.

Oracle suffered a further major loss in Dirk Kramers, a top designer, whose Cup experience extends back to 1977 and is a three-time winner of the America's Cup. He has joined the British challenger, Ben Ainslie Racing. Oracle's three-time Cup winner Jono Macbeth (NZL) goes with him as BAR's Sailing Team Manager.

Three of the Oracle sailing crew went to Italian Challenger, Luna Rossa, who are now geared up with over 80 in the team, and look to be in full operation.

Another leading US sailor - twice and current World Foiling Moth Champion Bora Gulari (Michigan) has also signed for Luna Rossa.

From's New Zealand newsletter. To subscribe click here

North Technology - Southern SparsT Clewring One DesignBakewell-White Yacht Design

Related Articles

Gladwell's Line -The America's Cup settlement deal
The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the Arbitration Panel is not news The 'News' today that Emirates Team New Zealand has won their case before the America's Cup Arbitration Panel is not new - Sail-World reported the same story in the first and second weeks of September. The Hearing on the amount of compensation to be paid is yet to be held. So far we have been unable to discover a date if indeed one has been set. Maybe next year?
Posted on 11 Oct
Debriefing the 2016 J/70 Worlds with Winning Skipper Joel Ronning
I talked with Joel Ronning after the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds to learn about his team’s win at this high-level regatta. Since its inception in 2012, the J/70 has become the most popular One Design boat in decades, with 1,100+ boats sailing in myriad countries. Some 68 boats from 15 countries arrived on San Francisco Bay last week to determine bragging rights at the 2016 Alcatel J/70 Worlds. I caught up with Joel Ronning to learn more about the Catapult team’s road to becoming the 2016 J/70 World Champions.
Posted on 5 Oct
Rio 2016 - America's Cup champ says Paralympic racing is closest ever
Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar Twice America’s Cup champion, Rick Dodson is extremely impressed with the standard of racing in the three man Sonar keelboat class at the 2016 Paralympics in Rio de Janeiro. The regatta is being held in Guanabara Bay on three of the courses used for the Olympic Sailing Regatta in August.
Posted on 13 Sep
Debriefing the Rio 2016 Olympics with Team USA’s Helena Scutt
I talked with Team USA’s Helena Scutt to hear about her Olympic experience, and to learn more about her post-Rio plans. The 49erFX was introduced to Olympic circles when it replaced the Women’s Match Racing event following the 2012 Games. Not surprisingly, it drew high-performance sailors for the Rio 2016 Olympics, including Team USA’s Paris Henken and Helena Scutt. While Henken and Scutt were Olympic first-timers, they put on a strong show. I caught up with Scutt to hear more about her Olympic experience.
Posted on 8 Sep
A Q&A with Peter Bresnan ONE Palma’s founder and director
Sail-World interviewed ONE Palma’s founder Peter Bresnan to learn about the company’s partnership with McConaghy Boats For the past eight years, ONE Palma (formerly OneSails Spain) has been building a strong name, first as a sailmaker and later with refit work. Recently, ONE Palma and McConaghy Boats-legendary boatbuilders who have crafted some of the planet’s fastest sailboats-entered a business partnership. I caught up with Peter Bresnan, ONE Palma’s founder and director, to learn more about this new direction.
Posted on 2 Sep
America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ train late on the Waitemata Harbour
Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. Emirates Team NZ were out for a training session that ran into the early Thursday evening. The team were sailing their recently launched AC45 Surrogate test boat which features an articulated rudder gantry - taking the AC45 close to the geometry of the AC50 to be used in the 2017 America's Cup.
Posted on 1 Sep
Dateline Rio - Sailing Olympics review - as good as it gets?
The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The Rio Sailing Olympics was widely judged to have been the best of recent times. The weather was better than Weymouth and Qingdao, the courses more varied, but from a working media perspective, it was the people running the Rio regatta who really made the difference.
Posted on 26 Aug
Rio 2016 - Plain speaking by triple-medalist on Olympic sailing moves
Triple Olympic medalist, Santiago Lange has been on the sharp end of changes made to Olympic classes and formats Santiago Lange, a six-time Olympian and Bronze medallist in the 2004 and 2008 Olympics, won his third medal – Gold sailing in the Nacra 17 class. With that length of experience at an Olympic level, having sailed the Laser, Tornado and now Nacra 17 classes his comments on the future shape of the Olympic regatta was one of the highlights of the Medallists Media Conferences.
Posted on 25 Aug
An Q&A with Steve and Heidi Benjamin about the NYYC’s 2016 Queen’s Cup
Sail-World caught up with Steve and Heidi Benjamin to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup. When it comes to U.S. Grand Prix sailing, it’s hard not to encounter the names of Steve and Heidi Benjamin. The two highly polished sailors have been successfully campaigning their series of yachts, named SPOOKIE, for years, starting first with a Carkeek 40 and progressing to their TP52. I caught up with Steve and Heidi to learn more about Heidi’s historic win in the NYYC’s Queen’s Cup
Posted on 19 Aug
Rio 2016 - Images of the penultimate race in the Finns - Scott wins
Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn Sail-World's Richard Gladwell was on the water for the final race of the Qualifying Series of the Mens Finn, in what potentially could have been Giles Scott's (GBR) Gold medal winning race. In the end, the current world champion won in style.
Posted on 15 Aug