To precis the lyrical genius that is Bob Dylan: Come gather ’round people, wherever you roam, and admit that the waters around you have grown…For the times they are a-changin’…Today it may well not be the early to mid-1960’s and the political preoccupations that Dylan was writing about but the news that the New York Yacht Club is about to appoint Clare Harrington to the position of Rear Commodore is seismic.
The waters around have certainly grown but the Club is on the front foot with this appointment and it’s brilliant…the way the system works at the world’s second-best yachting institution (ahem) is that you serve two-year terms at Rear and Vice Commodore before taking the top job.
So, by 2025/2026, Clare will be the first female commodore of this mighty institution. Think about that. It’s massive…and with the way things are going in the America’s Cup, she might just be the driving force behind a bid to win the Cup back from the world’s top club, the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, in 2028. What a story that would be…
Bravo to the Club. It’s coming out of the corner having taken a pummelling of Tyson Fury-esque proportions and it’s slugging…perhaps it was a rope-a-dope in the finest Ali tradition and we are all the chumps for doubting?
Personally, and I have said as much, it’s very clear that the New York Yacht Club has wise heads pulling the strings behind the scenes. It’s a club that knows what it’s doing and it knows not only what its membership demands, which is the highest quality, but crucially it has the foresight to read the room and take the temperature of the global yachting scene. As I’ve said before, the Cup needs the Club far, far more than the Club needs the Cup.
And in Clare Harrington, the future doesn’t just look bright, it’s positively glowing. I understand from members that Paul Zabetakis is now acting-Commodore, Jay Cross will move up to Vice in short order and the Club will simply double-down on its sailing and social programmes to move on fast from the America’s Cup debacles.
But who’s to say that with new management installed and foresightful individuals in the top spot that a re-cosying up to American Magic is not on the cards? To my eye, that would be terrific and welcoming Terry Hutchinson, Hap Fauth and Doug DeVos back into the fold to join them in going again would be the fairytale. Make it happen Clare – pull those strings.
Alternatively, will the new guard take a long-ball view of this current Cup scene and decide that enough’s enough? They know what’s in the wings, as many of us do, and it’s looking uglier by the minute.
The Hobson’s choice on the venue leads to, as the phrase suggests, one outcome which is the race for the America’s Cup but accepting largesse abroad over holding the event in Auckland is fraught with stormy waters. The agitators are agitating and with broadsides already being fired around possible legal action if ETNZ opt to propose to the RNZYS that the club considers a Middle Eastern venue, it’s looking like the whole process could be something that the NYYC are well out of.
Cases are being made daily for global venues, none of which are particularly attractive whichever way you dice them and the only choice that really makes any sense in a sporting sense is Auckland.
Somehow and someway, that deal needs to be done for the sake of the competition on so many levels but all signs are suggesting, today – and that’s important in this context – that it won’t. Today, as far as we know, money can’t be found to host in Auckland. It’s a write-off. Forget it. It just isn’t going to happen. But just as the New York Yacht Club has wise-heads behind the scenes, you have to think that there’s big enough players involved to make this happen at the swish of a pen. One email from the Challenger of Record and this Cup is in Auckland.
Forget the small-town noise hogging the airwaves currently around a defence in New Zealand, the biggest name in this cycle could and, in my view should, solve the issue in one swoop. Winning the Cup in New Zealand waters is credible and just – anything else is a slightly shallower victory and if Ineos Britannia feel confident in their programme, like they should, then the chump change of event hosting and a stipend to keep the defender just about alive in the form of a concealed event fee is compelling. At the end of the day, participation is key and solving the Rubik’s Cube of the Cup and all its moving parts is but a cheque away.
If it happens in Auckland, as it should, immediately there will be a torrent of news. Luna Rossa will be full-speed ahead. The Alinghi/Red Bull press release will be dis-embargoed. American Magic, perhaps with the NYYC’s backing, will be at the races. Any number of emerging nation challenges will appear – and there are strong indications around at least two currently in the wings. AC40 teams will be announced. Sailors will land dream jobs. Boats will start getting built. New Zealand will be open for business and political change could be enforced around the Covidiot policy that Russell Coutts so eloquently opined on in his Facebook rant this week.
Going abroad causes more trouble than perhaps it’s worth. Although the case for multi-venues with the Match in Auckland is solid. An event in Plymouth (Cowes please), one in Cagliari, a hurrah in Valencia, a chilly trip to Cork another in China and a controversial one in the desert with all grand prix’s counting ahead of the showdown in Auckland, to my mind, is compelling. But the AC must be won on Auckland waters.
This Cup cycle is poised and ready to rock but as the Rolling Stones guitarist, Keith Richards once said: “Everyone talks about the rock these days, the problem is they forget about the roll.”
Right now, it’s the roll that matters…