Monday, November 17, 2008

Yachting: Oil on Troubled waters

[Excepts form by Paul Lewis] In the end, the inevitable happened. "We [Vuitton] left the America's Cup because of the relationship with ACM - they were too commercial, too interested in money and the budget for 2007 was 10 times what it had been for the regatta here in New Zealand in 2003 [400m euro as opposed 40 million]," he says.

"We were not getting 10 times the return on investment. Valencia was a big local success and you will read stories about the millions of Spanish people who went there - but they went there to lick ice cream and look at the facilities. They were not really interested in the regatta."
But it wasn't just the money, the payback, with Trouble and Louis Vuitton. It never has been. Scratch the surface of the America's Cup and you will readily find people to tell you how both have always had the heart and the tradition of the Cup in mind. Trouble was an Olympic sailor, an America's Cup sailor, the man who conceived and then ran the Louis Vuitton Cup for challengers, and then a sponsor who became an integral part of the event.

Alinghi ramped up the costs and tried to widen the commercial scope of the America's Cup, potentially losing its exclusivity and traditions. He likens the approach, with a Gallic sniff, to "soccer".

So Louis Vuitton had "a lot of big arguments" with ACM but retained a good relationship with the challengers. When Emirates Team New Zealand chief Grant Dalton first raised the idea of the LVPS, Trouble wasn't sure but later went back to ETNZ with a proposal.

"You know, I wanted to call this the Revival Cup," says Trouble, that grin playing again. "Louis Vuitton decided not to go with that name and we chose Pacific Series because it is in the Pacific region and because the word `pacific' also means to do with peace. That's what we wanted to bring."

He says Louis Vuitton is not expecting signiifcant return on investment for the LVPS either - but he says it is about bringing back a positive environment; an investment in the `psychology' of America's Cup-style racing. When the idea was mooted, the America's Cup was marooned in the courts (it still is) and nothing was happening - no racing, no talks, nothing except a lot of syndicates with severely holed bank balances and sponsors gaining no visibility. Read the full article here.