Gosh that was a bit of a hard watch wasn’t it? Sombre, reflective, utterly bonkers and bizarre in places, it felt like we were watching something that we shouldn’t be and boy did it drag on. Olympic opening ceremonies are the sporting equivalent of the Eurovision Song Contest but it’s a spectacle in very hard times for the Japanese and we all applaud them for putting on the bravest of emotionless faces to open the Games of XXXII Olympiad.
Forgive me but didn’t everyone look like they really didn’t want to be doing this? Everyone that is except Thomas Bach, the masked IOC President who has had the Japanese over a barrel financially for the past five years. Behind the smiles, he and his delegation won’t be welcome back in the land of the Rising Sun for a very long time. Perhaps an Empirical eternity.
Meanwhile the current incumbent of the Chrysanthemum Throne, Emperor Naruhito did his duty but couldn’t get away from the simple fact that the vast population of his fabulous country are elsewhere in their enthusiasm for the Games – 70% wish it would be called off and facilities, infrastructure, manpower and resource delegated to getting the country vaccinated or treated.
But we’re off and running and the best thing from a British Sailing perspective, old news that this is now, is that the ambassadorial Hannah Mills jointly held the flag as the standard bearer for these glorious isles. What a great choice. What an honour for Hannah. What a shot in the arm for the sailors. Terrific stuff and it gives me goose-bumps just thinking about how far our sport has come.
And now it’s heads down for three weeks of learning about sports that you didn’t even know were a thing but thoroughly admire those that found them and have devoted their entire youth to. The Olympics proves that it really doesn’t matter what sport you do, at the elite level there are no easy medals and the levels of dedication required to be in the top three of anything is a mighty tricky task. The early medals have been won, Geraint Thomas fell in the road cycling and the Chinese lead the medal table – some things never change. It’s a funny Games this time and on-site it looks a bit sterile but it’s an amusing distraction to round off a summer of sport.
Meanwhile in Cup land, the New York Yacht Club have been at it again – they really are itching for the next contest – with an announcement that the venerable club is linking up with the still-born Stars & Stripes syndicate that didn’t quite make it last time.
On first glance you go; “eh…what?” but the more you think about it, the more it makes sense. The deal sees Taylor Canfield and Mike Buckley join American Magic and that’s the end of the road for the Barker / Goodison / Hutchinson era in a stroke. No doubt Terry will be kept on in an executive role after the stellar job that he did in Auckland and the link with Quantum Sails is a positive one but it’s a big move to secure two undoubted talents at Match Racing but unproven in foiling monsters.
Ben Ainslie won’t be losing any sleep and it’s unlikely Paul Goodison will either – surely Goody will get the Ineos nod for 2024? Too good (y) to ignore.
On a commercial front, the tie-up looks a no-brainer. Corporate dollars will be a tough find for one syndicate, let alone two and you have to guess that having the New York Yacht Club on the ticket is a sure-fire door-opener at CEO level – “$100m and yes I’m certain the membership committee will wave your application through sir” – it worked for Jim Ratcliffe at the Royal Yacht Squadron after all. And further you have to assume that the Stripes gang bring a load of hot-leads from the boardroom of corporate America alongside sailing talent so the building blocks feel good for the USA and it’s great to see them achieving continuity and setting the compass due north for another challenge (or is it due East?).
All round American yachting is really trying. Paul Cayard is leading the Olympic charge and there are statements about creating lasting legacies and dominating for future generations to come. Good stuff. Fighting talk and about time too. It’s a country blessed with unreal talent from top to bottom but it’s just all felt a bit siloed of late but they’ve woken up to it and the merger of American Magic and Stars & Stripes is another significant marker of intent that things are getting done differently now.
Now what do they call the syndicate?