During an interesting back-and-forth with Mr. Clean over on Sailing Anarchy regarding SailGP, he posted a link to an interview he did with Grant Dalton of ETNZ in 2017. It actually cleared a lot of things up for me – coming at all this as a recent SailGP fan who only loosely followed the previous America’s Cups. I provided my typically astute analysis of that interview there in the thread – but I’ll include it here as well for those who don’t frequent SA.
This analysis actually also relates to my previous post herein about Tom Ehman’s discussion with Richard Gladwell regarding World Sailing and its CEO, Andy Hunt. Grant Dalton talks about World Sailing as well in the interview. So, as you can see, this is all obviously wound up in an incestuous little ball. And that’s the problem.
The link to the interview is at the end of this post for those who would like to listen themselves (a bit of language here and there so be warned)…..
Finished the interview while I was darning my socks. Pretty interesting, I must say. And congrats to @Stingray~ for being an NZ needle-mover!
One of the most telling aspects of the mentality in which the AC is steeped (or mired), along with most of the sailing media that always surrounds it – is Grant’s repeated references to “The Fraternity”. I understand why he’s using the term – but it also belies the deep-seated problems that have always held sailing back from more general public interest and adoption. “The Fraternity” is an incestuous world that can do nothing but shrivel as time goes by as focus turns ever inward, while its costs keep rising, and less and less people actually want to be in it.
The biggest evidence for this shift that we’ve seen over the past few years is the explosive growth of millennials buying sailboats and taking off cruising all over the world – with their YouTube channels garnering millions of followers and hundreds-of-millions of views (something most major sailing events can only dream of). This generation could care less what “The Fraternity” thinks about them. They don’t need to be “accepted” or “inside”.
So, really “The Fraternity” itself is a seriously outmoded concept in this modern world. It is dying – if not dead already. And it has been killing the sport for a long time. Yet it STILL drives ETNZ’s view/stewardship of the AC. And, to be frank, I think it has also always driven SA and you, Clean. And that’s always been the Faustian bargain of SA…how do you balance “being accepted into ‘The Fraternity'” – when your mission is tear down the “Status Quo”? I’m not faulting you guys for doing whatever you want to do. It’s always been an interesting experiment. But, if you’re able to look at it objectively, it really sets up impossible expectations as you’ve clearly experienced. As you know, if you’re going to take sides, you can only take one side at a time.
Grant himself has obviously had a very hard time balancing these two worlds as well. Since that interview, we are now down to a small handful of billionaire-backed AC syndicates that have very little real “nationality”, with boats that will likely have very little trickle down to that harbor in front of his house, and almost no run-up to the actual event to build the audience you spoke of. So it is very much still an open question what kind of global public interest and financial impact it will have in its current state.
The AC has clearly gone back into The Fraternity world. And SailGP is looking to continue on without it as much as possible. May the best direction win.