Why I will watch the America’s Cup, Sadly

by David Salter
Like millions of sailing enthusiasts around the world, I will be watching the America’s Cup racing on television, not because I admire the current version of this great event, but because my 50-year allegiance to the sport demands it.

The fundamental notion of there being a pinnacle of international yachting competition is what will always attract the loyalty of the true enthusiast.

But to my mind, the essential problem for the 35th America’s Cup is that it is not being sailed in boats. Like the previous challenge, it is a contest between two-hulled, one-winged, low-flying aircraft. The AC catamarans have no significant displacement. The design of their hulls is largely an irrelevance. The so-called “sail” is a highly fragile and complex contraption that owes more to aerospace research than the skills of any loft.

While all of that technology is certainly impressive, it bears little relation to the type of sailing the vast majority of us enjoy. We don’t toddle out to the starting line in crash helmets and survival suits. Nor do we rely on sophisticated computing power to choose our gybe angles or select the optimum angle of heel.

Even the intensely hi-tech world of Formula One manages to retain some connection to the ordinary motorist. The F1 cars have a wheel at each corner and an engine somewhere in the middle. They are, in other words, still cars. But the AC foilers are nothing like the average dinghy or yacht that most of us sail.

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And we like to devote two or three hours to a good, solid race, not a frantic wham-bam-thank-you-ma’m sprint that’s all over inside 30 minutes because that’s the kind of instant gratification the short attention span TV executives want. The America’s Cup has let itself become just another commercialized spectacle, with all the grubbiness that inevitably infects sport when the dollars begin to outweigh the merits of the contest itself.

So, yes, I’ll be watching the racing, but all the time I’ll be wishing it was more like those wonderfully elegant contests we had 30 years ago between the 12-metres. Back then, every sailor in the world could follow the tactics and imagine themselves on board the yachts. It was engrossing – the very best our sport could offer.

I doubt the Battle in Bermuda will generate that same feeling.

Source : http://www.sailingscuttlebutt.com/2017/01/13/will-watch-americas-cup-sadly/

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