President of the IOC Suggests AC Reforms
With an invitation to join Alinghi as 17th Man today, IOC President and three time sailing Olympian Jacques Rogge stayed ashore with everyone else as 25 knot winds streamed across the Hauraki Gulf.
Feeling the frustration of all the competitors as another day was lost due to weather conditions outside the limits, Rogge gave his thoughts on the America's Cup and the system by which the racing is conducted.
"I understand the constraints put on themselves by the challengers, who want to have a wind range that would be closest to the February one," Rogge said, alluding to the expected weather for the America's Cup final in two months. "Nevertheless, it's a pity to see these splendid boats can't sail in a 25-knot breeze."
"I think the America's Cup needs an independent, neutral body that rules the organization," he said. "Today we are in an ambivalent situation where the defender tries to accumulate as many rights as possible, where the challengers try to team up against the defender, and I think you need an independent body that would decide on format, on the dates, decide on the boats."
As it stands, the deed of gift, written in 1887 by George Schuyler of the New York Yacht Club, is amended every few years before the next America's Cup. The protocol wrangled over and eventually agreed to by the competitors - including boat designs, wind readings for competition and the nationalities of sailors competing for a foreign syndicate - is, in effect, the only law governing the competition.
Rogge stopped in Auckland during a trip to Australia and New Zealand.
One of Rogge's main complaints was the defender rule, which essentially guarantees that the next competition will be held in the country that wins the Cup in February. Team New Zealand, the defending champion, is guaranteed a berth in the finals without having to compete in any of the challenger series.
"Not to know today when the America's Cup will be or where it will be held is not something you would see in other sports organizations, because there the calendar is set for a long time," he said. "For the sport itself, it's maybe not that important. But for sponsorship, for TV audience, to spread the popularity of yachting to the world, it is vital to know where to go and when to go.
"The other thing that I think would be welcome would be to have a system where races wouldn't be postponed or abandoned in winds that are considered a medium breeze."