Feb 23, 2011, 5:57 PM
Post #1 of 4
By David Fuller, Yachtsponsorship.com
DOES AUSTRALIA’S AMERICA’S CUP TRADITION DESERVE BETTER?
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When I launched Yachtsponsorship.com in 2008, I had been working in sports marketing for a number of years, worked with some incredibly professional people and learnt a few things about how sport can be used to inspire. But more importantly, I learned about the commercial value of sport. Having seen the best practice employed by organizations like NASCAR, Manchester United and MotoGP, I turned to a sport that I had grown up with as a kid.
Sailing is more mass-market in Australia. In Melbourne, I grew up next to the sea and I remember watching sailing on free-to-air television, from the annual Sydney Hobart Yacht Race to 18ft skiffs during the lunch-break of the cricket to the historic morning my dad got me out of bed to watch Australia II win the America’s Cup in 1983.
The blog I started in 2008 then was intended to bring great sports marketing practice and professionalism to the sport of sailing. I love the sport and believe that I have done a lot to promote it over the last couple of years, which is why I am disappointed when I see amateurish behavior at the highest level.
It’s even more disappointing when that amateurish behavior centers on Australia and the America’s Cup.
Spokesmen for the new America’s Cup, like Russell Coutts and Jimmy Spithill, keep reading out the line that the event is the pinnacle of the sport. The new deal is supposed to usher in a new era of professionalism that allows sailing to be pitched as a platform worthy to deliver a return on an investment over $50 million.
How then, can the America’s Cup organizers officially announce the entry of a team that can’t name a team principal, sailors, a challenging yacht club or have a live website? In the year 2011, for a professional international sports team to not have a functioning website at the time of such an announcement just looks like amateur hour.
Speaking to some of Australia’s top sailors over the last few days - people who would be 1 & 2 on my speed dial had I the investment to launch an entry - I find that they haven’t heard anything about the campaign. Haven’t even had a phone call.
I hope that my fears about this campaign are unfounded. I hope that Australia can mount a challenge for the America’s Cup that brings to bear all the talent that the country has to offer - from world beating sailors to globally recognized boat design and technology to some of the savviest sports marketing people on the planet.
If Australia is going to enter the America’s Cup after 10 years it has to be a proper go. Being the underdog is okay, and mounting the resources to take on Oracle Racing, even with an Australian dollar that is parity with the greenback, is going to be tough. But there is underdog and there is amateur and we’ve moved on. Haven’t we?