The new 75ft foiling monohull for the 36th America’s Cup dominated the Internet news as the first versions were revealed by the four competing teams.
Here on Sailweb, 13 of the top 20 articles were America’s Cup based and the top 5 racked up big viewing numbers.
In the UK it was America’s Cup articles with the first images of INEOS Team UK’s Britannia filling the top spot and an article on their foil flaps that hit the top, and also attracted an over 50% Kiwi, USA based audience, before the sinking of a Dragon at the HM King Juan Carlos Trophy broke the flow.
Disaster stories are always popular and featuring in among the top AC pieces were – Leading Dragon sinks at HM King Juan Carlos Trophy and Capsized MOD 70 Argo recovered. Another big hitter was the loss of ‘My Song’ from its transport ship, which rumbled on as the blame game was played out.
Just outside the top ten was coverage of the World Sailing trials for a new Olympic single hander, with ‘Take a look at the 3 Olympic Pretenders‘ the main interest. But we all know how that finished, and the later test events did not raise anywhere near the interest – I guess people just thought, why bother!
Sailweb covers the Olympic class events and with the Tokyo 2020 sailing team selection trials kicking off in 2019, articles covering the British Sailing Team’s likely selections were popular, despite the official policy of keeping speculation under wraps.
It is no wonder that sailing struggles to generate any media interest when the main players are just names on a results sheet, but old habits die hard . . . when some news was presented the interest was there.
Top of the Olympic classes’ articles was a piece on the competitors likely to feature in the selection process – ‘British Sailing Team – The Class of 2020‘, along with the actual announcement of the first team GB selections – ‘Team GB Name Sailing Squad for Tokyo 2020‘.
In a non-Volvo/Ocean Race year Big Boat racing failed to gather big audiences, only Hugo Boss – another disaster story – attracting major interest. We will have to see what the Vendée Globe sailing race round the world, solo, non-stop and without assistance, brings in 2020.
SailGP League was the brave, new face of another attempt to present regular international yacht racing to a mass audience, with millions of dollars thrown at a heavily subsidised world circuit.
Despite some great images and apps etc, it seems that the recent machinations with the INEOS America’s Cup team getting involved with the British SailGP team was of more interest than the actual events, with gradually dropping interest as it all became a bit predictable and the familiar curse of weather setbacks.
The owners of the series came out with compelling media numbers which suggest the interest is there, but does it have ‘legs’?
Season 2 will see the addition of two new national teams, and Ben Ainslie now running SailGP GBR to provide some additional interest for the UK market, which coupled with the ACWS racing, could help both events to build interest.
Whether this event can stand the test of time is problematical and still leaves sailing without any form of genuine national/international competition below the level of a couple of specialist money/richman’s toy events.
World Sailing’s World Cup racing circuit has become a number of scattered events, with not all the classes taking part and competitors only seeming to show major interest in the final lead-up events to the Olympic Games.
Which highlights the one-horse reality of international dinghy racing – existing on the back of nations Olympic programmes to drive any interest or finance.
Unfortunately the lack of a strong, vibrant international race circuit – and thus any major personalities – has led World Sailing to grasp at any Olympic event format that it deemed PC enough to pass muster at the IOC, no matter what its tenuous relationship is to sail racing.
Classes removed from the Games seem to thrive, perhaps without the crutch of the Olympics, sailing would be forced to face reality and really knock some heads together and get its (smaller) house in order.
The strange feature of the whole Olympic classes’ saga has been the lack of protest by the sailors involved.
Apart from a strong rear-guard action from the displaced Finn class, the rest of the Olympic classes (and sailors) seemed to adopt a keep quiet and carry on attitude.
Perhaps as they see no professional future, as long as they get their chance of an Olympic medal, they are resigned to ticking the box and moving on to a proper job.
And speaking of medal chances, 2020 is an Olympic year, when for an all too brief couple of weeks sailing will gain a world-wide media platform, and after three years of toiling on the practice circuit the selected competitors get their day in the sun.
If we are lucky, we will see some great sailing, in fantastic conditions and the winners will celebrate their years of hard work, before disappearing back into the training programme for Paris 2024.
Sailing’s governing body, World Sailing, made up for a general lack of interest by the number of critical articles they generated, as they rivalled the British Parliament for ignoring and upsetting the people they were meant to be representing.
Obviously, the World Sailing manoeuvres were of interest to a certain section of sailors who seem evermore social media based, but not the audience they would like to relate to . . . that audience just gets on with their sailing and ignores the financial and bureaucratic high-jinks.
With the first America’s Cup racing taking place in early 2020, we can expect the AC to continue to lead the news and even break into the media mainstream, especially here in the UK with the ACWS event in June at Portsmouth.
Although with the AC75s being used first at the Cagliari event in April, that may have already revealed the likely pecking order, but we will also have the second iterations of the AC75s before they head to Auckland for the Christmas races.
Before that event we will have several SailGP events, with the Ainslie factor raising the interest level here in the UK, then the Tokyo 2020 Games, and rounding out the year the start of the revamped Vendee Globe in November 2020.
There are also two outstanding Team GB Olympic places to be filled, most likely after world championship events in February, but that is just speculation.
See you in the New Year.