Wight Lightning

It’s on the table. It really could be happening. Pinch yourself. The America’s Cup could be coming to the UK for a one-off Deed of Gift contest with Grant Dalton confirming that it’s being considered saying; “Certainly the Isle of Wight is an option. We want to come back (to Auckland), but we also have to think of the team and ultimately my responsibility is primarily to the welfare (of the team) and the strength and the ability to defend the Cup.”

©ACE / Studio Borlenghi

And that’s the key here. Grant is looking out for his team from top to bottom, as any good boss should do, from the superstars to the cleaners. But there are so many moving parts – government, mayors, ministers, sponsors and potential eye-catching alternative bids that absolutely nothing can be ruled either out or in. Looking at the Auckland council 10 year budgeting process, that is currently going through public consultation to the 22nd March, and you can appreciate the predicament.

Dalton, as boss of a commercial enterprise, is eyeing the fast money around him but exercising the patience of a saint. He’s playing the game. It’s a torturous council process and the New Zealand media are reporting that the AC might not even be in the budgeting process as the Cup hadn’t concluded by the time submissions were made at the end of February. You couldn’t make it up.

But, as you can make out above, Jacinda Ardern was pictured with the winning home team right next to Pistol Pete holding the trophy and that’s a very good sign. It’s a clue that this is a serious issue and desperately needs executive authority. Jacinda has the pen. She has the political clout and capital but can she make it happen?

It’s a minefield of negotiation but with Dalton, it’s clear that there’s no machiavellian grand master plan and that he’s going to be doing precisely right by the team. As a straight-talker, he sees it black and white, does what he says and tells it how it is. I like that. And it’s absolutely right that he strikes the best deal for the sake of Team New Zealand and perhaps a deal that might appear off-kilter to the man-on-the-street is actually in the long-term interest of the country.

©KOS Picture Source / www.kospictures.com

A lucrative match in the UK, bankrolled by the equally straight-talking Jim Ratcliffe could propel the Cup into the sporting stratosphere and set up a multi-challenge event for the 38th edition.

The Italians wouldn’t like it one little bit but they didn’t so much burn their bridges as incinerate them on a bonfire of vanity. Personally, I thought the Italians played harsh but fair. Awkward, culturally aloof, competitive, irascible, testy, down-right difficult. I quite admired them but they did nothing to secure entry to the gentleman’s club that now sits at the apex of the great game.

But we’ve seen this all before. The relationship between Defender and Challenger of Record always starts out as a love-in and ends in death by a thousand cuts. Deals get reneged on. Agreements get quashed. Self-interest raises its head and what you believed was better than a teenage crush, creeps into mid-life acrimonious bickering and ends in divorce in the High Court. It was ever thus.

©KOS Picture Source / www.kospictures.com

But for now, life is rosy. Sat before Dalton and Ratcliffe is a world of opportunity. The chance to shake the foundations and project this fabulous competition to a global audience. One of the keys will be to build on the communications progress and it’s vital that they secure top-level resource at an event level to both relentlessly plug its virtues and paint the richest of canvases.

Going dormant and then firing up the website like a slumbering bear alongside the multi-media is not the way forward. It needs to be a living, anticipation-building, public and media relations exercise to start immediately. Maintaining the momentum is absolutely vital and bright minds, new blood and fresh approaches need to show this event not as an aberration on the sporting calendar but as a living, breathing, fire-snorting global sports franchise with worldwide appeal. Open the doors, invite the world in and do it relentlessly, capitalising on the goodwill and eyeballs of a public that has seen these AC75s in action and wants more. We need to see these beasts flying again – and quickly.

An America’s Cup in the summer of 2022 on Solent waters would be Wight lightning. It’s a story of our times. It would be absolutely fantastic. The Solent is a natural amphitheatre with more hydrographic nuances than San Francisco Bay. And if races are to be held actually around the Island – (how about a best of 21 races?) – then there’s a world of wind sheers, tidal gates, wrecks, rocks, conversions and swell even before you’ve turned up on the Bembridge Ledge buoy. Then there’s the blast back through the dominant forts at the eastern end of the Solent built by Royal Commission in 1859, past the difficult sands of Ryde and straight on to the Yacht Squadron finishing line. The photos would equal Auckland. The scenery is stunning. The sailing is challenging. The opportunity to showcase a (hopefully) post pandemic southern Britain would be enormous. In short, we’re ready. Bring it on. We’ll get the party started.

©KOS Picture Source / www.kospictures.com

What a treat it would be. But it seems strange, albeit highly enjoyable, to be writing that the Cup could be coming to the UK without the euphoria of an event win. But the more you think about it, the more exciting it becomes. We’ve had a taste of it sporadically before with IACC boats thundering around the Island and Cowes hosted a magnificent America’s Cup Jubilee Regatta in 2001, where the electricity in the air was palpable. Superyachts moored off the Green in hazy summer, tanned crews prowling the narrow High Street replete in team gear. Every restaurant full to capacity. Australia II in the marina. Blimey those were magical days. To be a part of it was a privilege.

Bring the Cup to Cowes and you’ve got a serious event on your hands. The locals would embrace it like Kiwis and as a platform to whet appetites for a multi-challenger Cup in Auckland, you couldn’t do better. It would be tantalising. Form an orderly queue to Auckland in 2025.

But first Cowes in 2022. What a time to be alive.

19 thoughts on “Wight Lightning

  1. So, Ratcliffe couldn’t win it, Couldn’t even make it through the defender selection, so he buy a match on his own turf. That’s the spirit. I guess, when you’re frackers in chief, you don’t give it a damm about reputation and sportsmanship.

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    1. Yes, I’d rather he wasn’t sponsoring Team UK at all and hoped Ben would shake him off after being eliminated, but it looks like he’ll have to lose a few more times for us to be rid of Ratcliffe. There did seem to be a small British outcry against INEOS as sponsors when they were first announced and even protests at the World Sailing headquarters, so we’ll have to see if that movement continues. As shocking as it may sound in our contemporary world, fans actually DON’T have to blindly support any team just for having their country’s flag on the sail and can be critical of who is “representing” them on a world stage.

      (To anyone pointing out that I’m an American— I also dislike Devos and similarly would rather he would not be a part of any US effort for AC 37. I did not support American Magic and was lukewarm on Oracle— my AC 35 watch party sign said “No Strong Feelings Either Way”.)

      I have no objections to having preliminary or exhibition events abroad (I became an America’s Cup fan by attending the 2016 World Series event in New York!), but I would rather the actual America’s Cup defense take place in Auckland if at all possible. The outpouring of love and enthusiasm we saw in the broadcasts and on social media was powerful and captivating, and even Jimmy said it impressed him.

      Come to Cowes, come to Sardinia, come to Toulon, Valencia, Geneva, Amsterdam, Fukuoka, Guangzhou, Sydney, and any other challenger’s home city, come back to New York and I’ll be there in a heartbeat (alright, Newport’s fine, too)— but just for a few days of festivity to give us a taste of what we can expect in Auckland at the main event.

      I was excited to see Team New Zealand defend successfully because I wanted them to host again with all of the opportunities that COVID took away— a World Series beforehand, a Youth America’s Cup, and the chance for international fans to visit and be part of that rapturous enthusiasm in the City of Sails. And, if I can save up enough money, the possibility that I could be among them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. When Total in France tried to sponsor the French Sailing Federation with big big money, (just after the Erika oil spill) it was such an outcry that they had to withdraw. French Sailing lost a lot of money then, but everyone felt better not getting dirty money.

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  2. Shirley Robertson, Prada TV presenter and Olympic Sailing Gold medallist has already said on the NZ Herald vlog “Beyond the Cup” that her house in Cowes is available to anyone who wants to rent it! It is getting like Wimbledon in Summer!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Magnus, your coverage of AC36 was just stunning! I enjoyed it a lot.
    But hosting the Cup events without winning it, should be just a matter of Honour… Simply put, this clashes with UK legendary sportsmanship…
    What a pity! Not only there will not be a Second, but a First neither!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Why does it have to be a fake DoG match?
    Why not a AC World Series event with everyone invited and fleet races around the Island?
    New teams could get started with the three B1’s and I believe there’s another TR in some stage of build.
    It wouldn’t have the British and frackers stain of racing for the AC without winning the Challengers cup.
    Rinse and repeat in Newport, Cagliari and ME leading up to the AC 37 where it belongs in Auckland.

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    1. They could have a one-off “America’s Cup Septicentennial Festival” (170th anniversary) this August like the 150th jubilee in 2001!

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  5. Not sure it is a ‘Deed of Gift’ match just because there’s only a defender and one challenger. DoG matches occur when there’s no mutual consent between the two parties that might result in a protocol being agreed between them. What’s being mooted most definitely sounds like there is mutual consent.

    It would be hugely lame to host an AC in the UK without the British team having won it fairly and squarely. By all means have an INEOS v ETNZ encounter on the Solent. Do it every year! But don’t call it the America’s Cup. Do an Allianz Cup or UBS Trophy just as Alinghi and Oracle did (when they were still friends) in San Fran and Newport in the mid-2000s.

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  6. hmmmm wasnt this a bus down in lower Queen Street/High Street with the mega sandwishes you can buy at 4 am?

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  7. Better still why not cut to the chase and have the British radio-controlled plane against the kiwi one on a virtual island and whoever has the best AI wins. The emperor has no clothes. Bring back real yachts with sailors and spinnakers, please.
    P.S. My Morris Minor would still lick the AC75 for top speed.

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  8. I quite like the technology in fracking. Makes a lot of sense to me. What’s with people lighting on fracking as a reason not to like Jim Ratcliffe. I quite like Jim Ratcliffe.

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      1. Evidence of causation? To what degree? Health affected? I think not, so far, on the published evidence, as found by those charged with investigating.

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    1. I’m guessing you don’t believe in climate change either, and you would be happy for your mate Jim to put a fracking well rig in the field behind your house..
      The risk to the environment and water quality from the use of high pressure toxic chemicals, not to mention the earthquake risks does not seem to bother you?

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      1. Nope. Don’t believe that “climate change” is harmful and it is purely a political stunt, well played by governments and businesses to (i) tax the citizen (ii) make profits for companies that produce little benefit to the world. It is of course not science based. Sure, it is in people’s heads and ideas. But what most think is that it is (a) deleterious to life on earth, (b) that humans somehow caused “it”. To be perfectly honest it is one of those totally meaningless advertising phrases that can be taken any way the listener wants or feels. It used to be pre 2000 to 2010 “Global Warming”. If I were a betting man, I would say that we are likely to see an Ice Age. Eventually that bet will come in. I do not know Jim, but I quite like him, especially when he faced down the ridiculous SNP sponsored blackmail in Scotland in regard to the “spanish practices” in the oil business. And in this I speak as a lifelong Trade Unionist with 1/4 Scots blood. NIMBY? Not into that. Risk. Level in regard to each? The evidence considered by governments and scientists supports none of those contentions. What the evidence does support is a ready source and supply of energy to a Temperate Climate UK which requires sufficient energy to light streets, warm homes, power industry and schools, generate surplus income to pay for all the things which we enjoy as a civil society such as free at point of treatment NHS, social services, police, fire services. Again, a tad NIMBY on the luxury of picking and choosing who what and where.

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  9. The US fracking industry is spending millions of dollars on political campaigns and PR to cover up the catastrophic impacts of well fluid waste in PA and NY, your post pretty much mimics what they are saying.

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  10. Esteemed Magnus,

    always great writing, but sometimes – how unknowingly? – little objective. After this goodbye message (find enclosed, but I think you know it), how can you say that Luna Rossa challenge, and the Italians in general, cannot sit at the gentlemen’s club? If true, then it would be an honor not to sit on this kind of club. Please read this from a team and people that would be awkward, irascible, culturally aloof. And – oh yes! – who subdued the legendary Sir 7-1 (still remember?).

    Your affectionate and attentive reader. Fabio Colivicchi

    THE DREAM OF EXCEPTIONAL PEOPLE It has been an intense and emotional campaign, that started over three years ago – with a blank sheet on which a new class of boats took shape, with a new and technologically advanced hull concept – and ended just a few days ago, after over three months of spectacular and thrilling racing.

    Being the lead actors in the limelight of this adventure, up till the very end, makes us incredibly proud of the work done by the entire team; this competition is not only a sporting challenge, it represents the technology, creativity and values of an entire nation, which we are proud to represent.

    There have been many memorable moments to look back on, from the very difficult move to Auckland to the victory of the PRADA Cup, earned after competing against such strong teams as NYYC American Magic and INEOS Team UK.

    In the final of the America’s Cup Match the races were fought until the very end, and some of these will remain etched in our collective memory for the spectacular show and the close competition.

    Defeat is never easy to accept, but this is sport, this is sailing and this is the America’s Cup. Sometimes it is brutal, but you have to accept the result and learn from mistakes. If you don’t give up you have never really lost, and this is the essence that characterizes Luna Rossa.

    We are happy to have gotten this far and even more excited at the prospect of coming back stronger, in the hope that the Cup will continue to enclose the spirit that has distinguished it throughout all these years, making it the most coveted and fascinating sailing trophy of all times.

    A team like Luna Rossa, with a great history behind it, will continue to honour those who have supported us, from sponsors, to partners, to the millions of fans who have made us feel their closeness even from the other side of the world.

    It is also thanks to their passion and enthusiasm that we have come this far.

    We have proved that we were a worthy challenger, with important values both on land and on the water.

    As a team we want to thank New Zealand and the city of Auckland, and the Mana Whenua community, who welcomed us and allowed us all to enjoy the privilege of living these months in a healthy environment, free from Covid, and allowing the competitions to take place safely.

    We look forward to returning to racing on the AC75s in the next edition of the America’s Cup.

    >

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