Fast moving America’s Cup story today. Following the announcement from the New York Yacht Club that they were partnering with the Stars & Stripes gang, it was naturally assumed that it was a case of merging with the American Magic Team but oh no. Not by a long shot.
This is the New York Yacht Club aligning with and adopting the Stars & Stripes syndicate and ditching Terry Hutchinson, Hap Fauth and Roger Penske completely. It’s sensational news and Terry Hutchinson is hitting the airwaves to explain that the assets of American Magic, still locked away in a shed in New Zealand, are very much their Intellectual Property and that the hunt is on for an American Yacht Club that shares their vision for the next AC.
In an email widely circulated to a close circle of American yachting journalists and seen by myself, Terry makes himself available but states very clearly that: “since early June, American Magic has been navigating its way through an AC37 partnership agreement discussion with the New York Yacht Club. It has proven to be more difficult than expected. Instead of finalising an agreement with American Magic, NYYC’s Commodore and Board of Trustees has decided to announce a “joining” of Stars & Stripes and the NYYC. This is an agreement separate from the American Magic team and mandates the ‘participation of S+S with the club’s future efforts’.”
Astonishing really. I knew that the New York Yacht Club could play rough but never in my wildest dreams did I think they’d do this to Terry Hutchinson – a member no less – and with a back-up plan that looks shaky at best.
Or so it would seem. There simply has to be someone with very large pockets standing like Iago in Shakespeare’s Othello, ready to exact revenge and throw down a mighty American gauntlet to win back the Cup. In America there’s no shortage of those characters, and with the stock market booming post Covid, more billionaires have been created than at any other time in history and at a faster rate. The Cup is, I will forever contest, chump change in sporting terms and the New York Yacht Club has the best brand in the ‘Great Game’ and wants it back and to hell with the collateral damage.
For Terry, Hap and Roger it’s a kick in the solar plexus but they too are carrying aces in their pack. Patriot was a weapon right up to the moment of that crash and remember just how far ahead they were of the Italians when the capsize happened. That IP was borne out of hard yards of training and it’s not something that money buys. The design team were A1, the mechatronics guys were best-in-class, the sailors and shore team were bang on the money, the sails were looking innovative and all was set fair for a very decent run. Hell, they even beat Team New Zealand at one point. This had everything except a shiny Cup and a ticker tape parade down Fifth Avenue.
And I would imagine, there will be no shortage of club suitors in the US willing to lend their name, facilities, management team and administration department to American Magic. No brainer. Done deal – I would think it’s a case of take-you-pick. Wouldn’t it be great if they went off piste and chose a club that’s never been in the event before – I’m thinking the Texas Corinthian Yacht Club or the South Carolina YC – how about Clearwater Beach? It would be cool…
Terry Hutchinson is bankable in the Cup – of that there’s no doubt. The model CEO with a sailmaker pedigree and the best big boat CV on tap. What a talent to let go…begs the question: what on earth are the New York Yacht Club up to?
Time will tell and we’ll expect a very big announcement any day now but as for a new dawn in US collaboration, my initial observations were wrong. These two syndicates are going toe-to-toe for the sponsorship dollars and my bet is that US sailing at the apex of the sport is set back a generation, scrabbling in the dark and that its time in the Cup sunshine is a long, long way off. Or have they nabbed a whale? Bezos has done space remember…but that’s just wishful speculation. Musk perhaps?
It’s a brutal game at the elite level. As Mark Twain said: “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”