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The Publisher

Feb 23, 2011, 5:57 PM

Post #1 of 4 (17194 views)

By David Fuller,

When I launched 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?

The Publisher

Feb 23, 2011, 5:57 PM

Post #2 of 4 (17192 views)
Re: [The Publisher] DOES AUSTRALIA’S AMERICA’S CUP TRADITION DESERVE BETTER? [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

Since the team was announced last week, their website ( is now working, though it lacks detailed information. Among the vitals missing is their challenging club, though I have learned they plan to partner with the Multihull Yacht Club of Queensland. The last Australian team to challenge for the America’s Cup was when a young Jimmy Spithill skippered a team for Syd Fischer in the 2000 Louis Vuitton Cup.

- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


Feb 25, 2011, 11:20 AM

Post #3 of 4 (17059 views)
Re: [The Publisher] DOES AUSTRALIA’S AMERICA’S CUP TRADITION DESERVE BETTER? [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

David, I do not quite follow you what the big problem is?

For all the entries in the next cup the funding is the first and biggest thing to solve. If you have the money everything else can be solved but not the other way around. And getting a green light from potential big money sponsors is not always synchronized with your own racing schedule or in this case - the last date to enter the cup. I am sure there are sailing syndicates out there still waiting for answers from sponsors and without answers we will not even know they had plans for the cup.

From this perspective I do not at all find it strange that a cup-entry starts with entering the race when we are very close to the last date of entry.

Don’t be so quick assuming they have lack of professionalism just because they did not have a website the same second it was official or that they have not announced key staff yet. Maybe they just got a very late answer from a sponsor. They might even call your buddies that are number 1 and 2 on your speed-dial now that they have entered the cup. Wink

PS: Nice to see Australia in there. Smile

The Publisher

Feb 27, 2011, 7:20 AM

Post #4 of 4 (17026 views)
Re: [The Publisher] DOES AUSTRALIA’S AMERICA’S CUP TRADITION DESERVE BETTER? [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Damian Christie, Melbourne, Australia:

I am disappointed in David Fuller’s comments in Scuttlebutt about the Team Australia challenge for the America’s Cup. There is enough cynicism about the Cup in Australia without David adding fat to the fire! Anyway, if he had checked his facts, David would have known that the earliest announcement of Team Australia came in a feature in the December 2010 issue of Sails magazine – three months before the official announcement last week. Team Australia did not just appear out of thin air overnight! I believe it has been under serious consideration for over a year.

As a lay person who has followed the America’s Cup since the 1980s, I am excited that someone in Australia has finally had the foresight and guts to launch a Cup challenge. I am pragmatic though about our chances – this is effectively a start-up team. It is not blessed with the resources of a patron like Alan Bond of old and its sailors are certainly not yet as talented as Jimmy Spithill, arguably Australia’s best sailor. As Team Australia’s principals have acknowledged, it will take at least two to three Cup cycles for the syndicate to become a serious contender.

How about David volunteer his services as a sports marketing professional to assist the new team? Team Australia deserves the encouragement and support of all Australians. I for one will be more than happy to make a modest donation or to join a supporters club should Team Australia establish one.

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