By Lynn Fitzpatrick
Throughout May and June 2017 ardent America’s Cup fans and sports enthusiasts witnessed the best America’s Cup in a decade and another sporting milestone. The innovative and resilient Emirates Team New Zealand team accomplished one of the biggest comebacks in sports history, having won the 35th America’s Cup 7:1 following the heart-wrenching 34th America’s Cup 9:8 loss.
Sexy, fast, high-tech, competitive boats with smart, strong and sexy sailors on turquoise blue waters based on an island nation, the 35th America’s Cup was a feast for the eyes and the shot in the arm that the Cup needed. The Challenger Qualifiers, the Semifinals and the Finals provided high speed, adrenaline pumping, lead changes and a bit of drama. Refreshingly, it was sporting drama. Now that Oracle Team USA’s grip on the America’s Cup has been wrested by the very deserving Emirates Team New Zealand, Americans have a window to reengage with the America’s Cup.
For all intents and purposes, the America’s Cup has been off limits to Americans and American teams since the 2007 America’s Cup, despite Oracle Team USA having won the Cup in 2010, defended it in 2013 and lost it on June 26, 2017. The Defender Selection Series was notably and noticeably missing from the 34th and 35th editions of the America’s Cup. We’ve missed the public clashes among skippers, backers, yacht clubs, and aspirant teams from different regions of the country. By not having a Defender Selection Series, the Defender may not have had that extra push to keep its winning edge and the support it needed to carry through to the America’s Cup Finals while the Challengers battled until the bitter end to race in the America’s Cup.
The 36th edition of the America’s Cup is North America’s chance to get back into the America’s Cup. Let’s open up the pathway for emerging athletic, sailing, engineering, design, data, and building talent. Let’s put a spotlight on S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education, sustainability and the maritime trades. Let’s generate economic impact. Let’s build North American teams and give local, regional, national and international sponsors, partners, investors, backers, media, and fans a North American league. We can foster crosstown competition, cross country rivalries and plenty of events to generate interest, a fan base, and the best team to represent America and the challengers in the 36th edition of the America’s Cup.
Congratulations ETNZ. Thank you for creating an opportunity for more Americans and American teams to strive toward participating in the America’s Cup, the oldest trophy in international sport and a friendly competition between nations.
America, let’s embrace the opportunity.