When Oracle Team USA announced their intention to hold AC34 in San Francisco, most of the sailing community here in the Bay Area erupted in celebration and pride. We anticipated an exciting series of races that would show off the magnificent sailing venue we have, and that thousands of new people would be drawn to our passion for sailing. With the Louis Vuitton Cup officially settled, although the result was never in question, and the America’s Cup racing about to begin (we hope), we have had to deal with the facts that our dreams for the America’s Cup are radically different from the reality. There are far fewer contestants than we thought there were going to be, there has been constant change in the schedules, the political maneuvering among the teams has seemed nastier than usual, which already was at a pretty low bar, and the anticipated hordes of visitors have not materialized.
And yet, it may still turn out great. The boats, both the AC45s and especially the AC72s, are breath-taking, inspiring awe among sailors and non-sailors alike. The broadcasting is game-changing, thanks to the efforts of Stan Honey and his band of geniuses. And sailing is getting more media coverage than ever before. Most people think the advent of the Youth America’s Cup may be the most exciting aspect of AC34, with it’s fleet racing format and all nationals on each boat.
What do you think? Will AC34 cause a renewed interest in sailing that will echo long after the AC72s have concluded their races, or will the majority of sailors and non-sailors dismiss this version of the America’s Cup as a boring and ultimately meaningless contest between rich competitors?