AC35: Moving On – By Brad Webb

Disappointed. That’s my pensive response to the news that AC35 will not be held in San Francisco. I appreciate that many view it as just another sporting event, but I was optimistic that the city and the team would build on the successes of the 34th America’s Cup.

I’m disappointed as a San Francisco business owner that there will not be another chance to showcase the Bay to enthusiastic sailing fans. I’m disappointed as an ORACLE Team USA member, having spent 13 years fighting to win and keep the Cup here, that some other venue will now inherit the show. I’m disappointed as a San Francisco resident, that this great event will pack up and leave this great city.

There are many who have directed their ire of hosting the regatta at Larry Ellison. It’s easy to target the top, and even easier with a narrow-minded view and no skin in the game. Painting the Cup as elitist ignores the spectrum of involvement it takes to put on the event, and many will miss the opportunities that hosting the AC provides. The legacy and enduring value it creates is profound, a walk down Thames St. Newport, RI. is testament to this. But one cycle isn’t enough, and so the potential for lasting impact is lost. Only those who understand the Cup will understand this. Most will never realize what they had, and the charlatans will enjoy an empty satisfaction.

Regardless, the Cup will survive. She is bigger than all of us. This is just a short chapter in her history and while those at the helm have a chance to steer, it’s not for long.  She has influenced many, and although sailing may not be widely followed, the America’s Cup has tested the limits of people and technology for 163 years. No other sport can make that claim.

After 20 years of involvement I’m not ashamed to admit that the America’s Cup has defined me. I spent half my life in pursuit of the planet’s oldest prize, and consider myself lucky for the career I’ve had. I still stare in awe when I’m standing next to the trophy, and think of the thousands who strived to win, and never got this close.

As the America’s Cup moves on, a host of fresh faces will be drawn to the event and enveloped in the experience. My only hope is that she is respected for the prize that she is, and embraced for the opportunities she provides.

 

Brad Webb

June 13, 2014