Samtidigt… i Auckland

Tack till SailKARMA (fler filmer här).

Louis Vuitton Pacific Series avgörs i perfekta förhållanden, och alla verkar mycket nöjda med arrangemanget… fram tills att Alinghi inte ville möta Team New Zealand för att man “inte hade något att vinna”. Jag trodde att Alinghi skulle vilja plocka lite godwill-poäng i den här regattan, men det verkar inte vara deras grej?

With a competitive elimination round coming up in the next few days Alinghi had everything to lose and nothing to gain in racing the home team Emirates Team New Zealand.

We are loving this regatta, the racing has been great and the summer conditions have been fantastic… Normally we would jump at the chance to sail against Team New Zealand as we have so many times in the past, so we are sorry to have to make this strategic choice.

Efter medaljracen i OS så behöver segelsporten verkligen fler konstiga upplägg. sammanfattar det ganska bra:

Alinghi’s behaviour, though technically legal, shows that sailing has a lot to learn about being a spectator sport. It is unthinkable that a professional sports team like Manchester United or The New York Yankees would refuse to play a game against a rival based on the argument that ‘they had nothing to gain’.

Journalisten Bob Fisher skrev:

This was hardly a gentlemanly action by the holders of the America’s Cup to deny the Kiwis the opportunity to race against them for the first time since they met in July 2007. It had been hailed as the Match of the Day by the local press and broadcasters and one that the spectators were ready to appreciate.

After all there were Auckland citizens who through financial reasons were denied the opportunity to cheer their team in Valencia and who were gathering on North Head for this match. Their disappointment was immense and calls were made to those close to the event complaining about the behaviour of the Swiss team, whose skipper would have known the full effect of the decision not to race.

Och Dean Barker (Emirates Team New Zealand) var allt annat än nöjd:

I was disgusted. The racing has been close, competitors are enjoying themselves and the public are being treated to some great sailing. Why would they introduce a niggle into a very successful regatta? It’s all about the spirit of the event. It’s all about doing what right for yachting. Their action was insulting and disrespectful to our team and to the New Zealand people. We were really wanted to race them today, the first time since July 2007. We don’t know what their agenda is. If they were taking a swipe at us they missed the target and whacked the thousands of New Zealand yachting fans who are following the action in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series and wanted to see two great teams go head to head. It inexplicable when the team pulls a stunt like this. It’s just bad sportsmanship.”

It’s hard to see how Alinghi’s actions cannot be seen as bringing the sport of sailing into disrepute. In a time when people are trying to raise sponsorship and awareness of yacht racing, actions like this give potential supporters an excuse not to participate. If one of the most visible teams can decide not to compete, how can we convince sponsors, media and fans that they should comit time and money to watching?