Get. In. The. Sea.
As exhilarating as the America's Cup always promises to be, as exciting as it always is, there is one extra staple that sticks in the craw of the event before the racing begins, it's the excruciating pain of the off the water squabbling.
The latest brouhaha around which part of our magnificent Waitematā these crews can flex on is as welcome as a banana in the galley. It's been established through arbitration that two of the five set courses for the big dance are no longer eligible. Unfair access, cited by the challengers, gives TNZ an advantage, which prompted the decision, whereas TNZ insists that the issue was signed by all many moons ago. The black marking of courses B and C also considerably detract from the land based spectator experience, a key part of the regatta, and dilutes the impressive TV coverage of Auckland city, in part a justification of the huge public fund injection.
Accusation and litigation are as much a part of the America's Cup as the heady exchanges on the briny deep. But that doesn't make it welcome. Or necessary. It's just down right irritating. Super egos, powered by super wallets indulging in power plays, cling to the event like barnacles.
I'm sure it's wonderful fun for the syndicates as they desperately try to justify the overloaded wheelbarrows of money they tip into the ocean, but to me, and I'd suggest a majority of the public standing perplexed on the pier, it's a grotesque display of appendage measuring and chest thumping.
The point is, around the endless dodging and weaving, thrusts and counters, once the racing actually starts, it's all forgotten by the casual fan. The legal bunfights fade into the ether as we focus on the actual competition itself.
This bickering paints the teams in a poor light. They appear cold and aloof. When I say them, I don't mean the sailors, the guys who give us the huge on water thrills, but the bosses of the syndicates, the people behind the arbitration, the bending and twisting of the rules. Looking in, we only see entitled brats scrapping over unintelligible regulations that have no bearing, to the untrained eye (which most of us are in possession of) on the nuts and bolts of race day.
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These behaviours isolate the casual fan, excite the sentiment that it's a sport for rich white guys and do very little for the promotion of the Cup itself.
The current course stoush is a case in point. It's already deteriorated into a 'he said she said' slanging match, which makes all parties very hard to like. From TNZ to Luna Rossa and everyone in between.
For an event that has sucked in an unfathomably large amount of coin from the public purse, you'd think that the public would be the primary concern, but it just looks like we are inconsequential bystanders.
Plainly, like every America's Cup, we'll forget all of this mindless public bickering once these awe-inspiring machines get up and start foiling. We'll forgive the petty posturing and climb in behind our lads as nationalistic fervour grips us tight. The gobsmacking technology, the ever present danger, the inspirational coverage and the tried and tested 'us versus the world' schtick.
The racing can't start soon enough.
Get in the sea.