King Kenny

Just how good is Kenny Read on the official America’s Cup commentary? It’s one of the absolute joys every four years as the laconic voice hits our airwaves with the confidence and knowledge of a sailor who has been there, done that, bought the T-shirt. He’s won everything and pretty much commands the sport from the lofty echelons of North Sails. Last night’s classic was how “I lost a round the world race on a $22 fitting” and unlike the bloggers, no names mentioned, he doesn’t stick the knife in when clearly a meat-cleaver could have been stuck into the Ineos boys. Rather, Ken offers soothing comfort and warm words of encouragement like “it’s progress, at least they are sailing around the course.” (Until of course they were sailing headlong into the spectator fleet about to capsize, but I digress.)

Ken is like the father of the Cup these days. We sit at the feet of the master, curl up with our devices and get thoroughly entertained in the process. Last night the subject of VMG came up. “Don’t throw me under the bus with that one” cried Nathan Outeridge but it was Ken that stepped up to explain the equivalent of the Stableford handicap in golf or the offside rule in soccer.

A masterclass and I have to say too, that Outeridge is a great addition in the commentary box – like a younger foil to the master arrowsmith’s brogue, ‘Nathe’ appeals to the cool kids and should be applauded. The sailors know and like him – why he isn’t on the boats is a complete mystery to me – and he really knows foiling. Grinding’s definitely not his strong suit but foiling, yeah Nathe’s the man.

Fuse all this with (Dame) Shirley Robertson flying along at 50 knots right behind the AC boats and you have a team that has experience to burn. They cover all demographics and give outstanding analysis of what is actually quite dragster-like racing. They keep the patter going and whip up the right amount of shutzpah at the key moments whilst keeping the cool kids happy.

Kenny is an alumni of the great Gary Jobson school of commentating with an audience in the palm of his hands and a voice as addictive as the sea, in my book he gives even the legendary Peter Montgomery a run for his money. This is one area that the Cup organisers have not only got right, but struck gold with.

Long may King Kenny reign.

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