Room for improvement in selling AC35 – The Royal Gazette | Bermuda News, Business, Sports, Events, & Community

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Room for improvement in selling AC35

The America's Cup is unquestionably a boon for Bermuda in a number of direct and indirect ways. Could it have been promoted or even organised better are other questions that need a critical view. Unfortunately, given the high stakes, the environment for rational overview has been far too polarised for genuine discussion. Given the future of the event depends on the totality of its current success, you would think there would be an open and frank discussion about the good and not so good consequences of the event and its impact on the island.

We are now experiencing a buzz in the community and on the streets of Hamilton, and many of the hotspots and hotels. A buzz that even the most cynical observer cannot miss. However, all is not well and the glitz of what money can buy is not the only thing that can be observed. We have turned the island over commercially to AC35 and, aside from the trickle-down, the vast majority of Bermuda are passive newspaper and television spectators.

At first, there were the rumours and allegations that this was to benefit the elites only, and as we enter into the full brunt of the event, nothing has dispelled what was once the rumour. Yet still I fully support it because it could be a great event for the whole island one day. But only if we admit where we went wrong and make this event a more inclusive occasion.

My detractors will say, “Well, it's a high-end sailing event, how do you expect the little guy to participate?” Obviously, this is a high-end event and there should be no expectation that a little guy will come along and enter his Sunfish sailboat in the race, but heck can't he sell a snowball on the street? It's the “ambient” atmosphere like Cup Match or May 24 that envelopes the entire island that is important to achieve as an ancillary experience, which could have made it an island celebration and not just for the prescribed elite locations.

I loved seeing Michael Douglas on the TV, telling the global audience how he and his family have a 400-year connection to the island. He made even me feel proud of him, but I would have felt even more proud if that same sense of history and belonging could be said of my ancestors who also tarried for 13 generations and are steeped in our sailing and maritime history. In fact, pertaining to the NBC broadcast, I believe I have a picture of my great-great-great uncle Billy Godet sitting outside the door of his home off Longford Hill.

The real problem is there are people who don't know how to do things differently and inclusively. It isn't understood, hence we have two camps — for and against. The attitude from the beginning was if it isn't done the way we prescribe it, then you are listed as against us. The opposite for those who are against it is if you should support the event you are a traitor — the sad and opposite polarised view.

There is a middle road, which may be too late to cultivate for this event, but hopefully when we do the audit and examine the level of success, we can adopt a course that is far more inclusive and will embrace all sectors, giving everyone a sense of satisfaction and a longing for a repeat of similar events.

Steeped in tradition: Uncle Billy Godet, born 1836, at the Friths residence on Longford Hill (Photograph supplied)

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Published May 20, 2017 at 9:00 am (Updated May 20, 2017 at 1:53 am)

Room for improvement in selling AC35

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