Why does everyone keep saying an America’s Cup battle in giant multihulls is a bad thing? It’s a show-stealing return to its egocentric roots

BMW Oracle trimaran

Hugely disappointing: that’s the widespread judgement on the news that the America’s Cup will be fought out next year in multihulls. Why, though? Racing in big multihulls sounds very exciting and if that’s the way it is I look forward to it.

I’m intrigued by the almost universal agreement that this outcome is ‘bad for sailing’. That pronouncement is taking on the proportions of orthodoxy and being presented as a fact that is utterly self-evident.

What is bad for sailing is what affects it adversely as a pastime for amateurs. There are plenty of worrying things going on in the mainstream right now but the America’s Cup is not one of them; it is largely irrelevant. More accurately, I think, the expression translates to: ‘bad for me and my crowd’ – in this case a comparatively small but high-profile segment of the marine industry, including the specialist journalists who commentate on it.

Is a multihull match America’s Cup bad for you? No, me neither. I think it sounds like fun.

The America’s Cup is not a world championship. There wouldn’t be a mass audience for anything so esoteric. It’s the Hogwarts of sailing, best savoured as an epicalised battle played out vicariously in intricate, nerdy microcosm between lethal foes.


French fishermen blockade port with burning tyres

A two-sided contest without all the interminable round robins, flights or whatever and, please God, those tedious pre-start Pavannes will be much easier to understand and follow. The attempts to wrangle the whole shebang into a continuous, bloodless sporting franchise have been deadly dull, as nothing compared to the colourful prospect of a few egomaniac billionaire pantomime dames flouncing on to the stage every four years.

This will be simple, quick and faithful to America’s Cup’s egocentric roots. I think it will be a more athletic and visually exciting spectacle to boot.