Monday, 26 August 2013

A non-contest for a non-trophy

Despite NZ’s victory on the water this morning in the conclusive Louis Vuitton UP race, it’s hard to take it seriously.  It was a non-contest for a non-trophy with a non-audience, winning them the right to be in a contest that no longer matters.

Yes, it’s a dramatic boat when it’s flying. But there were only two boats in the non-contest, only one of them fully prepared. 

So little interest has the world for the contest only two of the world’s billionaires had sufficient interest to back other boats. Just them, and the long-suffering New Zealand taxpayer fronted up—pouring millions into a sport once described as the equivalent to rich men standing in a shower tearing up hundred-dollar bills. 

Why the New Zealand taxpayer was fronting up to join in tearing up hundred-dollar dollar bills with the lingering number of few billionaires still interested in the non-contest is a mystery known only to our Prime Minister.

The Louis Vuitton Cup is a non-trophy. The America’s Cup has been so sullied for so long it is now little but a joke.

Despite the obvious thrill of a boat this spectacular flying under one of the world’s greatest bridges, it is hard get beyond the thought that what we are watching here is not so much a sport, but a welfare programme for sailors.


  1. OK, completely with you on the taxpayer funding of this being criminal, but:

    It is heartening to see a race that does not aim to hobble it's competitors. Formula one has changed the rules to slow down the cars, golf is limiting the equipment because players are hitting it too far.

    Every record nowadays seems to be: "Fastest mile by a 800cc hybrid running on vegetable oil"

    These boats push the boundaries. They are the best we can do with the best materials we have, using the best of our minds.

    Surely that must be encouraging?

    And maybe given the opportunity I would have contributed voluntarily. That is, however, no excuse for the government to steal my money.

    And now for my final question: if team NZ does win, will the next race see speeds of 44kts? Or will we see racing in recycled bathtubs with eco friendly sails?

  2. @Dolf: "It is heartening to see a race that does not aim to hobble it's competitors."

    Yes, this is all true. But it would be nice to have some actual competitors, no?

  3. True.

    But excellence costs money, I guess.

    And with the attitude that money spent on this is "Hundred dollar bills torn up in the shower" people will find more altruistic ways to spend their money. Like funding global warming scaremongering. Or lobbying government for their pet projects.

    I'm finding it very hard to criticize Ellison for anything here. He is spending his own money on an endeavor he loves. He is doing it to the best of his ample ability, and I get to enjoy the experience of human excellence, thanks in part to his funding.

    Hard to complain about that.

  4. Look at it this way: When red bull sponsored Baumgartner for the skydive from space, there was no competition, and yet it was still thrilling.

    They burnt a whole heap of cash, but in the end, did so for two reasons: a)they wanted to and b) they could.

    No other reason required.

    Ellison does the same for sailing. If only 2 other billionaires wants to partake, then fine.

    The problem here is the fact that I had to pay for a boat in this race, not the race itself.

  5. @Dolf: Hell, I'm more than happy for Ellison and others to spend their money thrilling us. Wonderful!

    But when so few others want to spend their hard-earned doing that, making it a non-contest, what the hell is the long-suffering NZ taxpayer doing there?

    And when and in which tournament will the long-suffering NZ taxpayer be able to stop doing it?

  6. OK PC, then it seems we agree.

    I get a bit sick at all the gnashing and wailing about how the race is a farce because it is beyond most people and that Ellison is the devil because he dared to write a rule set that makes boats go "too damn fast".

    One of the drive shows on Newstalk hoped that Team NZ wins, restores "sanity" to the race, and make it affordable for more people.

    Basically, they want to use taxpayer money to bring down everyone's performance. Much like the NZ school system.

  7. Like Kennedy said - "We do these things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard". Or something like that.

    Technology does trickle down and while the yachting may not be real racing its a fantastic display of technology. I'd happily pay to go for a ride.

    Looking at how good the NZr's are in this sport I'm not sure the govt spend, hate it in principle though I do, was wasted - more info is needed.



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