WYRF 2011 – America’s Cup Q&A Session

Coverage of WYRF 2011

[cleeng_content id="341879704" description="99 cents or 10,000 hours. Become an expert for less than a dollar. We do the hard work so you don't have to." price="0.99" referral="0.10"]This is the final part of our coverage of the America’s Cup panel that rounded off the 2011 World Yacht Racing Forum. Delegates had the opportunity to ask the panel, including America’s Cup Event Authority Chairman – Richard Worth, about the scoring system, the Facebook generation and the way in which the cup is being promoted to an American audience.

Part 1 of the series – Learnings and Challenges. 

Part 2 of the series – America’s Cup reveals audience numbers.

Questions from the Floor…

Dobbs Davis – Seahorse Magazine:

Last year, the group up on stage said that this was an American story. This is going to be an American event in America. An American defender. Do you still believe that? Are you hitting the numbers that you anticipated and what is the plan going forward in a country that is not unlike Korea where there is not a lot of traction for sailing.

Richard Worth

From my perspective, I absolutely believe it, particularly in 2013, this has the potential to be an enormous event, because it will be America versus whoever in the final races. It will be America’s versus the nasty foreigner who has come to take our cup away. I think that will be a story that resonates beyond the sport. I think the Louis Vuitton Cup will be spectacular and I do believe that from July 2013 until September 2013, that 3 months in San Francisco will be one of the biggest sporting events of the year- globally. There is no Olympic games, there is no World Cup football, no European football championship…

Dobbs: Americans don’t care about the World Cup.

Richard Worth

Part of what the World Series stands for is to create awareness over the next 18 months. I think that the job that has been done so far, is acceptable and good news. We have run 3 great events, and we have had interesting stories – like two French boats chasing each other over the line in the very last race in San Diego. There is plenty of promotional opportunity still to come.

I believe that in 2013, this America’s Cup will transcend the normal barriers of a sports story.

Christoph Stadler – Marinepool:

Will you continue with the scoring you have now. We talk about the sport being too complicated and the current scoring is confusing with fleet racing and match racing.

David Fuller: Don’t forget the speed-trial.

Richard Worth

There is no right or wrong answer to this. The right answer is that we should have a lot of match racing in the America’s Cup World Series because it is ultimately what the America’s Cup is – match racing – and if you divorce yourself totally from that match racing discipline, then maybe you are not paying enough attention to what the teams should be learning, but then the right answer is also the wrong answer because what is clear from a broadcasting and media perspective is that fleet racing is more spectacular. More things happen. It is less tactical I suppose than the cat and mouse match race. It’s not that difficult to understand. Perhaps it is for those new to the America’s Cup right now – There is a bit of match racing to determine the rankings for the fleet racing – there is one championship for fleet racing, one for match racing, and the World Series winner will be the winner of the combined disciplines.

I would say that, because we have a dynamic opportunity, this subject is on the table all the time. Teams raise it. ACRM raise it. What is right for each of the stakeholders?

David Fuller:  What do the teams think?

Marco Nannini – GreenComm

This is exactly what I said before. The way it works at the moment we might only end up sailing one race – and for our sponsors – that means only 1 6th man guest racer spot and that is the worst case scenario. So we need to know how many match races we will do beforehand – at the moment we don’t know. So we need to have the ongoing discussions to find the best solution.

I understand that it is difficult for the public to understand, but it is not that difficult. Some of the rules of soccer are more difficult to understand.

David Fuller: Cliff you are a media man, what do you think?

Cliff  Webb – Team Korea

I think there are number of issues with the race format and I understand that the format will continue to be tweaked as we go forward. Marco hit on a very good point there in the sense that those guest racer spots are incredibly valuable, we’ve known this for a long time, in the cup they are working superbly for us, and frankly we don’t have enough.

The sailors are frustrated that they are not getting enough sailing, on the other hand, the boats are incredibly physical and therefore they are coming off the water completely drained, but it is all being driven by a broadcast schedule and there are a number of reasons for that – one of them is budgets.

We’ve been told on the match racing, that they can only have one match on the course at any one time – and I think that is primarily due to the liveline technology, which is brilliant.. .but we are constricted, by the demands of telly, and that creates problems.

We only start racing at 2 in the afternoon. Great in one way – lots of time for training and preparation and so on, but on the other hand, what a waste of a morning, when we could be out racing back-to-back… Why not get some of the early rounds out of the way in the morning and then go live for the big races? It’s work in progress.

How many boats will be in the Loius Vuitton Series?

Richard Worth

Maybe we should ask the teams first. I can have a try at that. At the moment we have eight teams, with Oracle having 2 boats. Of those eight teams, we would be delighted to see five or six in the Louis Vuitton Cup. And I guess we will know the answer to that pretty soon – because if you haven’t started designing, planning and building your AC72 pretty much now, you are going to have a problem being competitive.

What we know is that Luna Rossa will be joining the party in Naples. So that is a guaranteed team for the LV Cup. You can guess as I can that Oracle and Team NZ will be there and Artemis. Then it comes back to fundraising. Each of the smaller teams would love to be involved, but in the end, they can only do it if they have the budget to sustain.

David Fuller: This is a very strange sporting event though, where the promoter doesn’t have an interest in having good competitive teams on the start line.

Richard Worth

I would say that the trustee in this case has shown a different face and they have done a lot of things to lower the entry barrier through the last year. We were planning to have the second World Series starting in August be in the AC72 – because of the economic climate that decision was changed and it has kept a lot more teams involved up until now. So I think the opposite is true.

We learnt a few things in the technical panel. We learnt that ACRM has a streaming policy – referred to Bel Air and Basra– I guess the teams on stage have the Basraaddress. Louis Vuitton would prefer only 4 teams that match their brand – high profile. We also learnt that if you don’t start production of your boat by the 1st of March, you have no chance to be in the first race. So the question for ACEA is will you continue the 45 format for the Basra address teams so that they can continue to practise and raise money?

Richard Worth

I guess that will naturally happen. The second World Series will continue until Naples in May of 2013. There would be no event in June because all the tech gear would be taken to San Francisco for the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup. So there is a commitment that the AC World Series will run through to the end of the first series, this coming summer in June. The second world series will start in August and all the teams that are currently involved are expected to continue as long as possible.

Marco Nannini

It’s an almost impossible situation for a small team. We have to continue fundraising and to work to compete in the cup. The AC45 is a preface for the AC72. We have to work out what to do. Do we stop? Or do we continue in the AC45?

David Fuller: As we get into it, are we getting an understanding of what the range of budgets might look like?

Cliff Webb

You wont get many people talking about budgets and what they are putting in. I guess we all know the Luna Rossa budget that was made public was 40 million euros. They are coming in late, but are doing a deal with Team New Zealand. That sounds like a comfortable target to be aiming for.

David Fuller: Is it realistic for 8 teams to be able to raise 40 million each in the current economic climate?

Cliff Webb

No there is  going to be wastage. For sure there are going to be some who don’t make it and that is inevitable sadly. On the other hand, there might be new ones that come in from the blind-side.

What is the rationale for the teams to be restricted in their web presence?

Richard Worth

I can start with the global policy – which was – developed along the idea of an American sports basis, where there is an accumulator factor where all the teams are part of that website. The hope is that you create so much interest and attract so many more visitors because its all together.

That’s a great theory, and I am not saying that the policy was wrong, but in the end, we can look at the website and see that some are very active and others don’t have the resources at all to update it – whether it is on Americascup.com or on their own site.

It is an advantage to teams without the resources to be on the umbrella site. The bigger teams might argue that they don’t need to be under that umbrella.

David Fuller: I guess it is an even bigger challenge if you have to cater for multiple languages like Spanish – or Korean.

Cliff Webb

That is a challenge. Richard is right that for smaller teams it is easier to be on the central website and it is part and parcel of what you are buying into. It’s also perfectly logical to argue that it is not right for a team like Team New Zealand.

This was pitched as sailing for the Facebook Generation, so how have you gone about winning on social media?

Richard Worth

As I discussed earlier, it is still in its infancy. When that statement was made, that separated the audience into the Facebook or Flintstone camp, I don’t know if that was too harsh a dividing line, but … what we didn’t anticipate when we made that statement was a YouTube Channel, that YouTube themselves are using as a case study. But there is an awful long way to go with this stuff. I don’t think we have scratched the surface of what is possible.

Everybody in this business is learning. If you just talk about the people who come to YouTube who come for 27 minutes – YouTube tell us that is remarkable and it must be special. There are many things in the social media space that we will develop.

Does it mean that we should stop worrying about traditional broadcast and the really big numbers? And can we elevate the America’s Cup into a mainstream place? I think it is possible. The social media space is exciting though and none of us have the right answer to what the future will hold. [/cleeng_content]

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  • Christophe

    1- All the ACUP policy is aimed on the idea to get TV Rights. But it’s a strong mistake to think that TV Networks will bring in total for a sailing even a 10% of total broadcasting costs. Maybe in 100 years from now .
    At this subject the firsts to make the error were Ernesto Bertarelli because that was a chance to get the Cup in Europe, but to bridle broadcasting by asking for rights or going through crypted network was not the best solution to enlarge diff

    2- One of the comments of Marco Nannini is “Some of the rules of soccer are more difficult to understand”. Agree , but thet are understood by 90% of people on the globe, except American

    3- Internet policy : I think also it’s a strong mistake. The good idea should have been to make a portal but to let the teams to settle either their own visual identity on the common CMS for the “poor” teams and to still use their own site when they have something in place, especially when they are on multiple projects as ETNZ

    4- To win the Cup as to be flexible. To expand the catchment area (the market) in Sailing the ACUP brand as to be shown before to be protected. That the same for Volvo Ocean Race. Race stakeholders on such kind of event are just thinking they are UEFA or Olympic Games. But they are nothing on the global sport marketing market. That’s maybe because all heads in thir boards are coming from those huge events. We’ve to be pragmatic, especially in such huge crisis, and to go back to the basics of funding for sailing events as we don’t have neither tickets nor TV Rights : sale icecreams ! We’re working on that in France.