America's Cup organisers admit shortcomings
DUNCAN JOHNSTONE IN SAN FRANCISCO
At last some sense from the America's Cup bosses who have admitted mistakes were made in the handling of this regatta that need to be addressed moving yachting's biggest extravaganza forward.
Frustrating wind limits and an uncompromising TV schedule have severely handicapped the undoubtedly exciting racing in the hi-tech giant catamarans introduced for this 34th edition of sport's oldest contest.
Nine races have been lost to high winds, including two entire days being wiped out. Racing has also been postponed because of time limits expiring for TV coverage despite ideal conditions, while Team New Zealand were also robbed of a cup win because of sloppy handling of the 40-minute race rule.
Amidst a press conference where the regatta organisers continued to look for the glass half-full approach, they did admit some culpability.
"Clearly our difficulty has been we have been restricted in an operating window that is tighter than we would have liked," regatta director Iain Murray said of the TV burdens.
Murray, who has managed a difficult assignment as best he could, defended the impact the lowering of the wind limits for safety reasons had on the schedule, believing the measure was necessary, despite the second races often being hit by San Francisco's notorious building sea breeze.
"If we have had to sacrifice that to having one race a day ... it's probably a small price to pay for what we have ended up with today.
"Sure next time, different times around things, a little bit more flexibility ... the two-race format is good going forward if we massage it ... but I think it has worked well."
Whoever wins today's final is likely to have vastly different ideas about hosting the next one. Oracle will push on with some refinements, Team New Zealand would likely make more changes.
Murray said the challenge facing the winning team was to "take the good parts and work that into a programme that entices many more teams".
"Everyone is looking for more of this competition that we have seen [in the final] and for that to go into the challengers with the Louis Vuitton Cup.
"Clearly there are good parts and there are parts that we can learn from. Whoever is the winner will take a lot of good pieces away from here, go and listen to who potentially the stakeholders are and try to work them in with the circumstances that they are going to have to deal with."
America's Cup Events Authority CEO Stephen Barclay felt the regatta had battled back from "a pretty tough start" blotted by the death of Andrew Simpson and the dismal challenger series.
"Some people have used the word revolution and whenever you embark on something big as we embarked on here you don't necessarily get everything right," Barclay said.
"The overall vision has been delivered, so as you move forward you change that word from revolution to evolution.
"You look at things you can improve on ... but I think the foundation stones have been laid."
- © Fairfax NZ News