Despite our righteous indignation at having been turned down for press access to the America’s Cup, duty compelled us to head for the harbor today on the first day of racing and check out the scene.
And so we did, for about an hour. I can say in all honesty, and without the slightest amount of sarcasm that it was the most thrilling, gripping, intense and wonderfully ecstatic hour of my entire life.
Allow me to assist you in imagining the scene: under the austere auspices of the Veles e Vents building, a sparse crowd had gathered! With no way to see the actual race, people had congregated around a large screen! Heavily tanned gentlemen in polo sweaters were everywhere! Alinghi clowns danced among children and possibly delighted one of them! A palpable sense of boredom permeated the air!
Workers darted in and around the crowd, chanting “Or-ac-le!” “A-lingh-i!” That’s right: paid employees were trying to generate excitement by goading people into chanting the names of corporations. Like the spirit of the Olympics, only much more moving and authentic!
Hundreds of schoolchildren were bussed in before the race’s scheduled start time. A brilliant strategy! Children are loud, generate a buoyant atmosphere without prodding and, besides prisoners, are the only people who can be forced into attendance. And you can’t expect sailing fans to mingle with prisoners! The kids made up about a third of the crowd. I felt sorry for them when the race was postponed 6 hours and eventually rescheduled to Wednesday. But at least there were Alinghi clowns.
This America’s Cup is an unmitigated disaster for sailing fans, for the event itself, and especially for the city of Valencia. Friends tell us that the 32nd edition held in 2007, was fantastic; not just exciting on a sporting level, but successful in bringing fame, money and tourism to Valencia. This time around, the constant (and still on-going) litigation has snuffed out any legitimate interest.
So if you don’t get down to the port to check out the action for the 33rd America’s Cup, don’t feel like you’re missing out on too much. You’re not.
More pictures from the 33rd Americas Cup, taken this morning: