Thursday, 7 June 2007

The Battle for Europe

Some sore heads in the Kiwi camp this morning (thanks by the way to local SailJuice fan ‘Anonymous’ for his comment on yesterday’s piece, seems like the Kiwi camp partied long and hard last night!).

Such was the release of pressure yesterday in the Kiwi team as the champagne corks started popping, it was almost as though they’d won the America’s Cup itself. One of the senior management team commented at the team barbecue last night that they’d done the job they came here to do. What? Surely the job is only half done?

Yes, the Kiwis had a right to party after winning the Louis Vuitton, but the real job has yet to begin. Hopefully a gap of two and a half weeks before the America’s Cup is enough to reset Kiwi ambitions for the Cup, and put victory in the Louis Vuitton Cup into perspective.

Meanwhile, the Kiwis must be beginning to wonder if they’ve got any fans in the world outside of the North and South Islands. A couple of days ago Desafio Espanol went out training with Alinghi. Let’s not forget that the Spanish have given the Kiwis their toughest challenge to date, holding them to 5-2 in the Semi Finals, with a boat – ESP 97 - that some pundits believe is the fastest design of any challenger team.

Today the vanquished Luna Rossa team put out this announcement: “Being the only semi-finalist still working here in Valencia to not have raced against Alinghi, after they raced Emirates Team New Zealand two days before the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals and also against the Spanish Team during the Finals, Luna Rossa will race the America's Cup defender Alinghi tomorrow.”

It is not in Patrizio Bertelli’s commercial interest to see the America’s Cup head south, nor is it in Desafio Espanol’s. There is a fear that if Emirates Team New Zealand win the Cup, that they will take the event back to the dark ages, to a corner of the world that offers nothing like the same commercial opportunities that Europe has opened up, and to re-establish strict nationality rules that would benefit the Kiwis more than anyone.

The Kiwis have as yet been tight-lipped on what plans they have for the Cup should they manage to wrest it away from the Swiss, so it might be unfair to suggest this is where they would take the event. But that is certainly the fear, and is the reason why the likes of Spain and Italy are breaking one of the unwritten rules of the America’s Cup in agreeing to tune up against the Defender.


Demosthenes said...

I've been an America's Cup fan for a long time but I am not really acquainted with the 'deed of gift' and the establishment of rules.

May I ask you who actually made the changes that allow skippers, crew members, boat designers and so on to work for/join foreign syndicates?

I mean.. the swiss showed up in Auckland with Russell Coutts, Brad Butterworth, etc.. so is wasn't them who changed the deed of gift.

I also remember a few years earlier that big controversy concerning Chris Dickson's 'japanese' nacionality made ad-hoc to be able to skipper Nippon (was it 1992? 1995? both?)

I am from Europe but I can tell you this:

I am very happy that the italians are out
I will be quite happy if the kiwis regain the trophy.

And if they re-establish nacionality rules that will be GREAT. In my opinion what happened with the "swiss" team in Auckland was a shame. So it is now. A "swiss" syndicate where almost no one is from Switzerland is pathetic. A bad joke.

Just two more things.

ONE. You say that re-establish strict nationality rules would benefit the Kiwis more than anyone. Yes, you are surely right but it would also benefit americans, australians (when they come back), and to a lesser degree, as things look now, french and spanish.

TWO. When you guys tell about "bringing the cup home"

Mmmmmm... come on! The americans won 27 out of 31 so I believe that "home" is the United States. Give to Ceasar what belongs to Ceasar! :^-)

Fantastic blog,

Tillerman said...

I'm rooting for ETNZ. Why should it matter where the event is sailed next time? With global marketing, a series of "Acts" sailed at different locations around the world leading up to the Cup itself, and perhaps at last decent worldwide TV coverage, then the sponsors should be able to get value for their money.

Who knows, if EMIRATES TNZ win the next Cup might be sailed in Dubai!

Anonymous said...

WTF it was team nz who broke from the challengers group first and raced Alinghi. supposedly for their benefit...and why wouldn't any of the remaining teams do exactly the same!

very biased i say...then again, i think all this secrecy about what would happen if you win the cup is BS.

why wouldn't Alinghi and TNZ say publicly exactly what they would do with the Cup so that nobody will make unfounded assumptions and people could choose smartly the team to support/and the future to follow.

come on guys...come out clean and tell the do you see the Cup if you win it?

Anonymous said...

Nationalism and sailing don't mix, because it is so hard to draw a line on the water...

The results of the ETNZ-Luna Rossa are not relevant. The Prada boat made tactical decisions which can only be labeled as "huuuuh?". Many "mistakes" Luna Rossa made even led some to be supspicious that foul play may exist.

Maybe ETNZ learned a lot since their last hammering from Alinghi, but surely Alinghi has progressed as well. We will certainly see a wonderful match between the two boats. And for all you corporate sponsors, don't forget, no matter how well you planned, it is still sailboat racing. Anything can happen.

Happy Sailing.

Pepe in Solothurn Switzerland

Giulio said...

I'm not sure but I think nobody can change the "Deed of Gift". The Defender and The Challenger of Records can agree in changing the rules for the Edition they organize. If there is no agreement between them, and it happened only once in 1988...(NZ big boat vs USA catamaran) the old "Deed of Gift" remains the only valid rule.

Hi Demosthenes, I don't understand why you are "very happy that the italians are out".
I think one should be happy if the team of his own country or the one he's rooting for wins.
This is sport. The better team/boat (TNZ) has won. Simply.
If you are european and you have been an America's Cup fan for a long time you should know that in the last 15 year, in AC-LVC, ** Europe = Italy **. Consider that Alinghi's owner, Ernesto Bertarelli, who now lives in Switzerland.. is Italian, and was born in Rome from Italian parents..

I will be happy to see the Auld Mug in Auckland again, bacause I like NZ people and if there is a country who deserve it, it's New Zealand.

I agree with you that reestablishing some nationality rules would be GREAT.
Lots of fantastic NZ sailors without a job in the next AC may have a different opinion.. :-)

Fair Winds

Tom McCall said...

You have a great abilty to tell it excactly the way it is, Team NZ is doing for yachting what the all Blacks do for Rugby.
Kiwis are helping all yachties worldwide to improve the sport by elevating it to higher levels.
Signed a Proud retired Kiwi Wind budger

Anonymous said...

The dropping of the nationality rules has just made the mercenary problems the AC already had even worse. Part of the joy of the cup is watching your own team fighting it out to try and be the best in the world. Watching a collection of talented sailors racing to win a silver trouphy for the billionaire who happens to be offering the most on a given three year cycle has always been one of the bad things about the cup for me and IMO it's one of the main reasons that appriciation of the cup has been limited to a small number of countries. A lot of Americans have been turned off by Ellison's anti-nationalism.

Although it has regularly failed to live up to the goal, the AC is supposed to be about friendly, close racing between countries. "This Cup is donated upon the conditions that it shall be preserved as a perpetual Challenge Cup for friendly competition between foreign countries" is the very first clause of the deed of gift.

So, given this, it's hardly surprising that a syndicate called Team New Zealand would be interested in retuning the cup to its roots in this area. If they were named, say, Squadra Italia or Team Great Britian and they held such a view would anyone still be surprised or bothered by it?

Tommaso said...

It's impossible to have nationality rules regarding the members of the crews if these rules seem to be written for being avoided.

All the teams, before this edition, have avoided this rule, by "hosting in their country" the foreign crew members.

In a lack of more defined rules, removing the nationality rule set by Alinghi is without doubt the better decision.

I completely agree with "Anonymous": Nationalism and sailing don't mix, because it is so hard to draw a line on the water...