Winner takes all?

In his latest diary OneWorld navigator Mark Chisnell questions whether this is helping the America's Cup
Oracle's recent announcement that BMW are joining them as a sponsor comes alongside a spate of recent articles in the press about how much trouble Formula One racing is in. The smaller teams are struggling, even closing in some cases, as the sponsorship dollars dry up. So it's no mean feat to get investment from one of F1 racing's major backers, through their involvement with the Williams team. It looks like sailing in general, and the America's Cup in particular, is at one of those moments of both challenge and opportunity. The challenge being that there are a lot less sports sponsorship dollars washing around, and the opportunity is that the Cup is now being seen by the global brand names as a safe place to spend those dollars. But America's Cup sponsorship is still a risky business, much more so than Formula One, because the Cup is a zero-sum game, winner takes all. Compared to the scale of the investment, the only significant yield in the coming America's Cup is the right to pick the site of the next defence. Let's face it, the major television networks are not exactly biting hands off to bid for the broadcast rights. And the other benefits, from the usual mechanics of marketing, corporate hospitality and the like, aren't making much of a dent when set against the amount of money being poured in to try and win this thing. I don't think that this is good for the Cup - ask yourself how many successful businesses operate in a zero-sum game environment? Teams should be able to come up with a business plan that makes total sense to a hard-nosed, sailboat-hating investor. And to achieve that, the return from all our efforts needs to be shared out more evenly - just as