Quick Step

A little bit like when a new CEO joins your company, that first day is where impressions count. You don your best work-wear. Polish your shoes. You might even comb your hair. You look bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, keen to be pro-active and ready for the new mission ahead. And that’s what I imagine the American Magic gang will be waking up to this morning. There’ll be a spring in everyone’s step. A quick step. That commute ain’t so bad now, is it? The Cup world is buzzing with the news of Tom Slingsby signing on the dotted line and committing full-square to the all-American challenge for the America’s Cup. What a great feeling.

©Thomas Lovelock for SailGP

As you walk into the base, the greeting is just slightly warmer than usual from the security guards. The marketing team are shrieking and exuding positivity. The design team are buried in the code with more gusto than my Labrador at meal time. And the management seem just that little bit friendlier, relaxed even. This is a great place to work now. Momentum, that elixir of sports, is coursing through the organisation like a Spring tide in the Solent. You can almost feel it.

It’s amazing what a killer signing does for an America’s Cup campaign. The known unknowns are tantalising. What will he be like? Is the ‘Red Mist’ real? Just how demanding will our star striker be? Is he a team player? And then very quickly it switches to: we can do this. We can win now.

©Patrick Hamilton for SailGP

And that’s the great thing, the X-Factor, that a true superstar of the sport can offer. Ben Ainslie has it at Ineos. Jimmy Spithill has it at Prada. Nathan Outteridge has set Team New Zealand quite literally on fire. These guys raise your game no matter whether you work in the shop selling apparel or on the shop floor cutting up chunks of carbon and laminating foils. If you’re office-based, you can sense it, feel it, touch it almost. Expectation not just from others but of yourself rises. You want a piece of the magic and to shower in the gold-dust more than ever before and your ‘commitment to the commitment’ as Dennis Conner used to say, just went through the roof.

©ACE / Studio Borlenghi

But it’s a team game as we are constantly reminded by those on the podium. Yes to a degree but without the star players your personal performance level can drop unbeknown to you and that’s where the mission creep filters in. It’s more deadly than a hitman.

Having the superstars who, by the way, come with a work ethic that puts many an investment banker to shame, keeps everyone on their toes. Second best isn’t in the dictionary. That will do, doesn’t work and that’s the reason why Tom Slingsby is absolutely crucial to the success of the whole American Magic project and the franchise going forward.

Yes, Slingers brings the biggest talent in world sailing but it’s so much more than that. It’s the focus that arrives at the doorstep that defines winning from being so near yet so far. As an employee of the syndicate, you have to deliver on that promise that got you hired in the first place. You have to do your best work from here on in. And if you don’t like it, well the exit is just a contract-rip away. Beware the ‘red mist.’

©Martina Orsini

Upstairs too, the natural order is challenged. Terry Hutchinson will need every ounce of his brilliance to corral, nurture, soothe and encourage his star-player. This is the Sir Alex Ferguson role that is crucial in any successful campaign for the Auld Mug. Grant Dalton does it with directness at Team New Zealand. Ian Walker will do it with intelligence at Ineos. Max Sirena is the brooding , no nonsense force at Luna Rossa. Brad Butterworth is more wily than a cartload of monkeys and key to Alinghi and now Terry’s in the box-seat at Magic with the greatest of all talents at his disposal. He’ll do it with ease and intellect.

© Sailing Energy / American Magic

The stars have aligned at American Magic and the rest of the Cup world would be lying if they didn’t admit to a tinge of jealousy. New York Yacht Club members have emailed me overnight, thrilled with the news. Delighted. Lovely to hear. It has turbo-charged interest and is marvellous for American sailing as a whole. And with free-to-air global TV rights being baked-in to the schedule, we are set for the most compelling, overt, competitive and downright interesting America’s Cup possibly ever in history.

The narrative can now be built. All the top teams are set. All the players are in the Great Game. American Magic has rocketed up the collective conscious and it’s game on for the greatest show on earth in Barcelona 2024.

It will blow us all away.

4 thoughts on “Quick Step

    1. Peter,
      There is no shortage of the Sailing Talent on American Magic now with the signing of Slingsby. Unfortunately for them & for the other Challengers the America’s Cup is decided on Supercomputers. It has become a 80 % Design Race and only 20 % a Sailors Race.
      And when it comes to the AM Design Team I have huge Question Marks. Silvio Arrivabene left and took a bunch of guys incl. Marcelo Botin with him to Alinghi. Will or Can Design Coordinator Scott Ferguson pick off the slack? I have my doubts.

      As Magnus pointed out with the signing of Slingsby the Expectations have undoubtedly risen and when you look at past Campaigns from NYYC backed Campaigns: They haven’t managed them very well.


  1. Daniel, thx again for your excellent insights. Yes, the supercomputers will be key and of course, the fact that the race is bugger all to do about sailing makes it even more important.

    The new buzzword will be AI and completely at home in the secret squirrel world of modern sailing.

    “God, God save us all”

    PS The NYYC did have that wee winning streak back in the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hopefully this time “free broadcast” really means FREE and not “175 dollars to watch live online if you’re American and not using a VPN”.

    Liked by 1 person

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