America's Cup Struggling In First Month Amid Reduced Racing, Sponsor Complaints
The America’s Cup in its first month has been "viewed as a flotsam of broken promises and undelivered spectacle, stained by the May death of a sailor," according to Branch & Wollan of the N.Y. TIMES. Little has "gone as planned." Initial "hopes were that 15 teams would compete with 72-foot catamarans, but there are only four." An "exciting, vigorous competition was expected by now." Instead, teams are "sniping, sponsors are groaning, people are suing, city officials are worrying and fans are not sure what to make of the entire enterprise." Prior to last weekend there had been "11 races, eight of which had one boat and three featured two boats." Event organizers said that they "believe the return of Artemis will restart the momentum lost" since the death of sailor Andrew Simpson in May. The same thing that organizers "hope will attract fans -- 130-foot sails, speeds close to 50 miles per hour and the threat of disaster, not unlike that in auto racing -- threatens to mar the race’s legacy." After the May accident, there was "discussion over canceling July’s races," but "instead, the decision was to refund the tickets that some fans had bought and proceed as best as possible." S.F. will spend roughly $22M for "upgrades and services like police, but event organizers have said they will reimburse those costs through fund-raising and have so far collected" $15M. America's Cup Event Authority CEO Stephen Barclay on Thursday said that he was "certain that the city would be left with no bills to pay" (N.Y. TIMES, 7/27).
AMERICA'S CUT: In S.F., Tom FitzGerald noted out of 78 crew members "listed on the four teams' rosters, only three" are from the U.S., and France is "better represented" with four. Out of 23 sailors on Oracle Team USA, "two are American." New Zealand by contrast "has 27 sailors in the regatta." New Zealand like the Dominican Republic in baseball has "become a similar proving ground in big-time competitive sailing." Sailing along with rugby "is New Zealand's national pastime." Australia and England also have "tacked ahead of the U.S. in sailing, largely because of progressive youth programs." Oracle team member John Kostecki said New Zealand, Australia and England "have good Olympic programs, and their kids aspire to go to the Olympics." Kostecki: "We've been definitely lacking there. We're trying to revamp it. I'm concerned that we haven't done enough" (S.F. CHRONICLE, 7/28).