Entente Cordiale

Calm down Tom. Give ’em a chance. Throw them a bone. A glimmer of hope. He can’t be that good. Can he? It’s a pretty outstanding, devastating display of demonstration sailing going on down at Lake Garda from Tom Slingsby at the Moth Worlds. An overflowing bucketful of race wins and a second (what happened?) put him clear ahead in the yellow fleet whilst fellow Aussie Iain Jensen pretty much did the same in the blue fleet. I can hear Men at Work echoing around the Malcesine valley – yes, we can hear the thunder and it’s all Australia at the moment. And everyone is running and taking cover…

©Martina Orsini

Now the two fleets have come together and it’s Slingsby still out in front banging in the bullets. These two are quite simply amazing to watch – if Slingsby wins this then Rolex Yachtsman of the Year is his on a plate – and it’s not just the sailing world watching, the America’s Cup scouts have got their eyes wide open. Throw a blanket over the top five – Slingsby, Jensen, Langford, Goodison, Outeridge – bundle them up and set them loose in Jeddah. This is the generation that matters. Guv culture is yesterday’s news.

But woah…did I say Jeddah? Steady. Perhaps it will be Valencia…after all, they’ve gone over the top, broken cover and issued a ‘we’re the best candidate’ piece of prose on the Real Club Nautico Valencia website. Good for them. The worrying thing for me is the line: “Valencia 2024 has right now the main task of getting the support of the three public institutions: the Government of Spain, the Generalitat Valenciana and the Valencia City Council…” Good luck with that chaps. And it goes on: “some conversations that as of today are well advanced, leaving little fringes to close…” Little fringes have a habit of being gaping chasms of understanding but I wish them the best with it. It’s a decent proposal.

©ACE / Studio Borlenghi

However, the funding model that started with the promise of billions from a spurious European Union regeneration fund is now: “The working group has held talks with the private sector with a very good response to financially support the candidacy.” Held talks? Oooh…warning signs are flashing. Or is that just me. So tell me, just how does Team New Zealand get funded in this one because I can’t see it…

And on that subject, peace has broken out, an entente cordiale of sorts, in lockdown Auckland as the bullish boss of Greymouth Petroleum has dropped his unpopular line about sacking Grant Dalton in order to unleash a torrent of private cash. Did I say that?…sorry that’s not what I meant…perhaps you heard me wrong.

Call me a cynic but isn’t it odd that the America’s Cup has failed wholeheartedly for generations to consistently unlock the deep wallets of the fast-cash petro-chemicals world yet in this cycle we could have two leaders of this ultra-closed and secretive industry dancing at the Cup table. Coincidence? And the torrent of cash from un-named private backers that is just itching to be un-locked at the 11th hour…oh let’s not go there.

©ACE / Studio Borlenghi

The consensus viewpoint globally is that the Cup should be in Auckland and if you were at the decision table with chilly Cork, strapped Valencia and murky Jeddah as your options, wouldn’t you be asking for a Plan B and issuing the line: “don’t give me problems, give me solutions.” I’d want a Trojan Horse at the gates of Team New Zealand – perhaps that’s what this is all about? Having said that, the blank cheque from the desert is a mightily attractive option and think of the favour it would curry in the business and political worlds – particularly if you happen, just happen, to be in the oil game…

But if cash can be found or squirrelled by whatever channels miraculously and Auckland is the venue, the sailing world will breathe a mighty sigh of relief. It’s always been the right thing to get done and Kiwis, bless them, get things done. The defender gets a war-chest. Grant Dalton is in charge. Burling, Tuke and Ashby are back on. Ineos and Magic can re-activate their bases (assuming that MIQ slots can be secured) and 2024 can get set in the diary. Nothing to see here. Move along. Let’s go racing again. Save the venue debate until someone manages to level-up with New Zealand and take the trophy off them – until then, be quiet.

©KOS Picture Source / www.kospictures.com

It’s been a fascinating process. What’s heartening is that the America’s Cup has draw with multiple venues – I think they said there were 35 names on the original ticket – that all think they are capable of hosting. That’s good news for the future. Clearly the event is deemed commercially viable, globally attractive and capable of big things going forward. Hurrah. We need a thriving, pulsating, brilliant Cup cycle in perpetuity.

Sailing needs the Cup whatever some might say. Nothing else captures and fuses the sport, the personalities, the money, the politics and the intrigue like the America’s Cup. It trickles down – look at how a seemingly innocuous Moth World Championship, previously the domain of the weird avant-garde ones of sailing, quickly descends into Cup speak. Olympic success naturally translates into Cup aspirations and pathways. Even at club level, the local kids that are taking their first steps into the airborne foiling world, know that what they are doing could quite easily lead to the top table. It’s 100% in the back of their minds despite what their coaches, parents and indeed the sailors say. The Cup is everything.

Auckland gets my vote in a free and fair contest. Jeddah would move the dial and rock the world. Cork would be a lot of fun and Guinness is good for you. Valencia would be great sailing.

Roll on the 17th when we can finally put this interminable debate to bed. How many more sleeps? It’s worse than Christmas.

One thought on “Entente Cordiale

  1. I wonder if some of the motivation for sponsorship by such companies is a desire for social approval now that many are (rightly) criticizing them?

    Liked by 1 person

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