Magic Circle

Best job in the America’s Cup? I reckon you’d have a hard time finding a better one than Chief Commercial Officer of American Magic. Walk in the park. You can’t miss. Okay, perhaps working for the Alinghi Family would be on a par, but the gig at Magic is pretty special. The goodwill, or shall we call it ‘the open goal’ to score into is vast and with the backing of the New York Yacht Club firmly in place, Jon Persch has the most golden of golden opportunities to convert on the promise of what’s fast becoming the franchise to watch.

©COR36 / Studio Borlenghi

In days gone by you’d stick out some social media of grizzled grinding meat, marvel at the whopping speeds, briefly mention the technology being ‘cutting edge,’ switch in some historical content about the most famous club in the Cup and bang, you’re done. But the game has changed – and made the CCO’s job even easier.

Today, you’re a franchise. A sports franchise building for the future – and no this doesn’t mean some banal commitment to getting local kids out in Opti’s (although that’s great BTW), you’ve got real team members to promote. The Youth AC and Women’s AC are going to offer the greatest platform to showcase the entire franchise in cooler ways than even the teams can imagine at the moment. Suddenly muscle beach is complemented by youthful exuberance – and let’s face it they are probably, how shall we say, more photogenic…?

©COR36 / Studio Borlenghi

What the sub-teams will bring in this AC cycle is something very special – I would go as far as to say that the AC40s could easily, easily, steal the show as they nimbly flit between Barcelona, Malaga, Cork and Jeddah on their global circuit.

The 75s meanwhile will be massively design-interesting but those thoroughbreds won’t be thrashed in anger until late in the cycle, whilst the 40s will be the equivalent of donkeys on the Annapurna pass to Everest. For the untrained eye they will look like the real thing – we know they will sail like the real thing – and with the top female athletes onboard and the next generation sailing their hearts out, the stage is set for more back-stories than a regency drama. Can’t wait.

©COR36 / Studio Borlenghi

And for the teams, the opportunity to expand their franchise and commercialise their whole sponsorship and marketing approach is transformed. It’s the sort of opportunity that simply doesn’t come around very often – you’ve got a stipulation to encourage youth and female athletes, backers that have to commit (it’s in the Protocol) and a rampant next generation just waiting to be thrust forward into the spotlight. It’s like all your Christmases at once. There will be winners and losers for sure, but for the smart Chief Commercial Officers who can see the bigger picture, this is an opportunity to create both legacy and deep, intrinsic value.

But why do I pick out American Magic as the plumb job? Well the simple fact is that they rolled-on from Auckland as the single most likeable team following their crash – they were great before it if truth be told – were by far the most accessible and with a CEO in Terry Hutchinson, who to my eye is peerless in the Great Game, they had a stardust that was deep-rooted.

©COR36 / Studio Borlenghi

Post Auckland there was the debacle with the NYYC where they stayed just uber-classy before the club saw sense under new management. That was a shameful episode in hindsight. And then the link-up with the resurgent US Sailing under Paul Cayard was agreed and now they’re at the business end, laying down their base in Pensacola as a hub of American sailing going forward. It’s brilliant. It simply couldn’t be a better set-up.

Everything they’re touching is magic (Magic?) and with the commercially astute Mike Cazer installed as CEO, T-Hutch confirmed as Skipper and President of Sailing Operations, Tyson Lamond as Chief Operating Officer and Scotty Ferguson leading on design, they’ve got a structure that can ease through the gears of generating massive interest whilst performing at the highest level across all the AC disciplines and amplifying their franchise going forward. That’s a dream team there that has just been handed a free-run to the touchdown.

©COR36 / Studio Borlenghi

And the New York Yacht Club have a seat at the table again which is their rightful place. They made the right call to get back involved, swallowed some pride and go again. If they’d missed this opportunity, I sincerely believe that the club would have struggled to get back in. You have to be in this next America’s Cup, regardless of your ambitions, to build the platform for future success. Miss this one and they would be playing catch up in a game where no quarter is given. It could have been an unbridgeable chasm that even the esteemed NYYC would struggle to cross. Great to have them back and firing on all cylinders.

American Magic is a team, perhaps the team, to watch. I like their sailors. The design team looks strong. The resources are mighty. The technology they can tap is peerless. The resources are there and the willing audience in the States, the world’s biggest market, is ready to be entertained and excited. The Americans will be full-square behind the star spangled banner whatever happens but what an opportunity to commercialise the franchise they have.

As I say – it’s the best job in the America’s Cup.

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