Overall Score 7.2 / 10 – Contender for ‘Best Newcomer’
The second ever America’s Cup World Series event has been staged in Plymouth, UK and the general feedback from people in the know was; ‘better than expected.’ For those who have never seen sailing, or have only a passing interest – the new audience that ACEA are literally banking on – the show was entertaining and captivating.
Over the years, the Extreme Sailing Series has been accused by some of being a circus. Despite the credentials of the sailors – the Olympic medals and the World Championships, despite ISAF accreditation, the ‘Stadium Sailing‘ format that treats spectators as stakeholders on an equal footing with participants, has been seen as a triviality on the fringes of the sport.
The America’s Cup World Series, with two events under its belt, could be in danger of straying too far across the line of entertainment, despite the obvious athletic abilities of the sailors. While marvelling at the spectacle on the water, the following words bounced around in my head…
a (poor) player. That struts and frets his hour upon the stage. And then is heard no more: it is a tale. Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.
It is still uncertain what the real purpose of the ACWS is.
On the one hand, it’s really just a very expensive advertisement for the real America’s Cup which is still 2 years away. The fact is that a team could come dead last in the America’s Cup World Series, but if they have the budget to build a 72 foot version of the AC catamaran, could still compete in that series – win and potentially dismantle the ACWS in favor of something else.
On the other hand, the ACWS is supposed to be a mechanism for sailing teams to become commerically viable sporting franchises, reducing the risk of the traditional 4 years cycle of the America’s Cup and potentially giving teams an additional revenue stream.
On the first objective, the ACWS is doing well. On the second, there is still a long, long way to go.
But none of that is of interest to the people of Plymouth, who on a cold, wet, and windy weekend, got a couple of free concerts and a bit of entertainment on the Hoe.
‘Out of this world’, black boats were buzzed by media helicopters. Excitable commentry was piped through loudspeakers, buzzing with static as the commentators screamed descriptions of boats flipping and crewmembers fell through wings into the sea. Every guest-house window carried a ‘No vacancy’ sign, despite there being plenty of empty tables at the bars and restaurants in the Barbican.
Plymouth was a much better event than Cascais. The America’s Cup World Series benefitted from the natural attributes of Plymouth – the amazing vantage point that is the Hoe, where spectators can look down on the action and the wind, which provided the chance to see these amazing machines approaching their limits.
The good news is that there are some people in the organisation who are listening and willing to respond to feedback. San Diego will be different again, with changes to the amount of racing already planned.
Our ‘secret sauce’ scores for the event. Overall – 7.2/10
- Marketing - 7.00 (High: Good local awareness. Low: Promotion restricted by ACEA)
- Visiting Fan Experience – 7.40 (High: View from Plymouth Hoe. Low: Lack of Food & Drink & Toilets)
- VIP Experience – 7.50 (High: 6th Man. Low: Over officious, badge checking, policing of guests)
- Stay at home Fan Experience – 8.40 (High: Live Stream. Low: MTV style cutting between cameras)
- Media Access / Organisation – 6.30 (High: Internet Access. Low: Nothing to eat for miles)
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