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Posted by: Captain Daniela Clark

America's Cup World Series Racing on the Hudson - Is that the Problem?

America's Cup World Series Racing on the Hudson - Is that the Problem?

The sport of sailboat racing struggles with its image. Its imagery is nothing short of fantastic, but gaining spectators and media coverage is a challenge.

 

The America's Cup AC45Fs are light, foiling speed machines that can sail at 50mph. They're so fast that sailors wear helmets with Redbull stickers, proof that true athleticism is required and it's officially an adrenaline sport. Even skiing legend Lindsey Vonn came aboard this weekend to catch a dose of speed over water.

 

This sport is undeniably cool, but media success is difficult to come by, and a 3-day series on the hudson this past weekend has added to what some call a setback for the sport. Even in recreational sailboat racing, a 3-day regatta can be risky. An unstable weather system can bring 3 days of doldrums and minimal or no raceable conditions.

 

Recreational sailors just take to the bar in this situation, but for an America's Cup World Series event, the show must go on.

 

And in recreational racing, sailing on the Hudson is far from normal, far from fair. Add an unfavorable weather system to the strong currents and disrupted wind flow from nearby buildings, and you have a real stretch for racing conditions.

 

As Sir Ben Ainsle put it, the lower hudson is "in my opinion the last place on earth you would want to put a race course." And he explained: "As competitors we have a problem. We have to accept the trade-off between maintaining the integrity of the racing and helping to promote our sport in front of new audiences." Read the full article.

 

But did the audiences really benefit this year? Not really. According to Sailing Scuttlebutt and readers, "The holders of the America’s Cup are working in earnest to turn the event into a broadcast product, and while the technology developed to show the game is impressive, they’ve yet to create a commercial format that does not cut away during the race." Read the full article.

 

So proper racing conditions, negative. Proper TV coverage, negative. There's a heck of a long way to go to compete with NASCAR.