When John Arndt (associate publisher Latitude 38), and myself organized a meeting and AC34 celebration for the Bay Area sailing advocacy group, Sailing Renaissance (SR), we asked the Golden Gate Yacht Club if they’d set up seating for 30-40 people. This was to be a meeting for SR membership to discuss their ideas, areas of interest and concerns for the local recreational sailing and boating community with regard to the America’s Cup.
By Friday afternoon numbers had grown - just a little - with almost 200 crowding the upstairs grand room at GGYC. Tom Huston, COO of America’s Cup Event Authority spoke on behalf of America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). A new face to me in this growing organization, Tom hails from a sports marketing career where he worked closely with ACEA CEO Craig Thompson and ACEA Chairman Richard Worth. Tom’s a Northern California native and pleased that the opportunity to work in the Cup has brought him back to San Francisco after 10 years in Europe. Tom is not a sailor but did a very nice job of presenting what lies ahead of ACEA over the next few years.
I liked that Tom didn’t make any bones about not having intimate knowledge of the sport of sailing or even the Cup, but rather that he and his group want to do a better job than has been done previously of connecting with the non-sailor, using sports marketing methodology & know-how not previously applied to the sport of sailing at this level.
He did let a few things slip that were news to some of us closely connected to what’s been going on - namely that USA-17 is on its way to San Francisco as we speak (plans for the monster tri are unknown at this point upon its arrival to San Francisco), and that we will not, after all, get to see the much-talked about AC45 race on the Bay prior to AC34 due to scheduling and demand for the AC45 at other international venues.
Keeping in mind that the San Francisco venue announcement was made just a few weeks ago, much of what Tom had to say was tempered with, “it’s in the planning stages,” or. “we’re not sure yet how that’s going to work,” and, “stay posted for more!” I expect that this will be the case until a few major sponsors are in place that will help lend more direction to their plans.
The final portion of the meeting was dedicated to idea sharing with the many interested parties in attendance. A first call to action was determined: to form task groups to head up different interest areas that will be affected by the Cup’s presence, or interest areas that can be leveraged as a result of the Cup. For example, a task group devoted to communicating directly with the Coast Guard to represent local boaters who hope to be able to be on the water to view the AC34.
People with expertise in many different areas signed up to head task groups. The SR Steering Committee is putting together an organizational chart of all the key areas of interest/concern. Already many people have offered to head up these task groups. The goal is that SR becomes recognized by ACEA/ACRM as the representative constituency for the Bay Area sailing and boating community and that the heads of task groups can ultimately meet directly with ACEA/ACRM to discuss ideas and concerns in the interests of both groups working together to promote the sport of sailing.
We were also fortunate that Brad Webb, ORACLE Racing’s bow man, was able to also give a presentation on his recent experience winning AC33 on USA-17, a likely once in a lifetime experience for any pro sailor. I’ve seen Brad present a few times now and never tire of either the footage from AC33 or listening to Brad’s stories of this interesting time in AC history. Thanks Brad!
Thanks also to the Golden Gate Yacht Club, to their fine staff for hosting the event, and especially to Ellen Hoke, Marcus Young and Norbert Barjurin.
* John Arndt was interviewed on KGO by Jim Gabberts about AC34: http://vaca.bayradio.com/kgo_archives/kgo_player.php?day=6&hour=20
* About Sailing Renaissance: Initially formed several years as a Bay Area industry support group to find creative ways to market and grow the sport of sailing during the economic downturn. Subsequently, the group has expanded to include the greater Bay Area sailing community.
Mission Statement: To unite the Bay Area sailing community to grow participation in sailing.