Another call to boycott the America’s Cup

The Herald reports:

Let’s start a replacement America’s Cup.

A proper one, with one set of rules for everyone and genuine competition. Not some heavily-rigged pretence at sport which is actually a play for power and money. That’s what Oracle Team USA served up with their protocol for the 35th America’s Cup this week.

This is a jack-up so obvious it should be called the Jack Cup. This went beyond the usual America’s Cup defender giving themselves an advantage. This is the US Army, armed with nukes, drones and heat-seeking missiles versus Spongebob Squarepants waving a sharp teaspoon. This is ensuring retention of the Cup under the banner of taking sailing to the masses and making it more commercial. Translation: more of everything for Oracle.

Even at his worst, Alinghi billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli wasn’t this bad in 2007. Oh, he had plans to race in the challenger series, which gives the defender the knowledge they need to arm their boat to repel all rivals and was also perceived to control Cup officials and could throw challengers out of the regatta.

But his regatta in Valencia saw challengers benefit from the profits – Emirates Team NZ trousered 7 million ($12.2 million). Oracle’s plans include no such largesse for anyone else. They take the lot.

Team NZ should announce that the rules are unacceptable and they will not compete, if they are not changed.

Further the NZ Government should announce they will not give one further dollar to a challenge, if these are the rules. It would be throwing good money away.

If you’re doubting the Antipodes could host an America’s Cup clone, don’t. A major sponsor (the longest continuous sponsorship in sport), Louis Vuitton, are now sundered from the event and are far more philosophically inclined to partner Team NZ than Oracle.

They did in 2009-2010, combining to stage an AC-style event in Auckland while the Cup was going through its interminable court ordeal.

A new event would be cheaper, fairer and more accessible. It could be staged in Australia or New Zealand, or even both, and would eventually grow to be its own event, maybe even overshadowing the Cup which could stand proudly in the Golden Gate Yacht Club trophy cabinet – forgotten and uncontested.

That’s a worthwhile idea. Form a new cup and with permanent fair rules.

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