Now the Italians are doubtful

Peter Bentley reports as the Admiral's Cup appears to be sinking

Tuesday March 20th 2001, Author: Peter Bentley, Location: United Kingdom
Unconfirmed reports that the Italians will not be sending a team to this years Admiral's Cup regatta appear to be the final nail in the coffin of an event that has run uninterrupted since 1957. Though the Royal Ocean Racing Club says it has had no official notification from the FIV (Italian Sailing Federation), it has been informed by phone that it is unlikely that an Italian team will compete.
Club secretary, Janet Grosvenor was prepared to admit "that from where I sit it doesn't look very good". Uncertainty about the status of this year's event within the RORC was further confirmed with Grosvenor already talking about an event in two years time. "Whatever happens this year, there will definitely be an Admiral's Cup in 2003," she said. How hard it would be to resurrect a championship that had effectively failed through lack of interest remains a moot point.

The list of nations that appear to have decided not to send teams now includes, Australia, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, USA and perhaps most surprisingly of all, the current holders, The Netherlands. Set against this, only Great Britain has declared their hand as definite challengers. With RORC general manager, David Minords, already on record saying that the event will not go ahead without at least four genuine international teams, the future looks bleak indeed.

Part of the problem is the domino effect: when one of the major teams decides to pull out others lose confidence. When two call it a day, the others panic and in very short time the whole event runs into the buffers. Though the cracks in the format and boat selection process had been clear for some time, the reasons for the withdrawal of the USA team - which set the whole crisis in motion - were very much more complicated and involved both internal divisions within the USA and the much wider issue of international class and rating-system politics.

Recently, the whole structure of the Admiral's Cup has struggled to find a bridge between the high level professional racing that now encompasses the The Race, Vendée Globe, Volvo Ocean Race and America's Cup and the owner-driven focus of the current round-the-cans and short inshore-sprint format demanded by today's owners. Failure to adapt to the demands of those who ultimately pay the bills has been the undoing of the event.

RYA keelboat manager, Bill Edgerton is quite clear about the importance of running the Admiral's Cup this year. "They have to set up an event in 2001. If they do not get an event in 2001 then you will not get an event in 2003, that is for sure." With the success of this year's regatta very much in doubt, Edgerton's thoughts, turned to 2003. "They could invent an event and call it the Admiral's Cup" he said, "but it would be a totally different event". This, it now seems, is the most likely possibility.

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