Sunday, August 09, 2009
19
A quick brief for those that don't know what the Americas Cup is. It's essentially the Formula 1 of the boat racing without going into too much detail. It attracts a lot of well monied people to the event.

The winner of the Americas Cup gets to say where they will hold the next race. In 2003 the team SNG Alinghi, from Switzerland challenged the then-cup holders (New Zealand) and won. They then successfully defended their title in 2007 in Valencia, Spain. So the obvious problem being that SNG Alinghi, being based in Switzerland, can not really stage the prestigious event in their own country - no suitable areas.

So again the search was on for a location to hold this prestigious race, and Oman was seriously considered. Sources tell me that negotiations and planing was ongoing as late as June this year to hold the event at The Wave in early 2010. The Government of Oman would of been required to front up about RO 2,500,000 for core services, and the teams would have invested the rest of the money required for their requirements for the race.

Even more confusingly, SNG Alinghi have rather notoriously won a court case allowing them to race a multi-hulled boat (it was all single-hull stuff before). This incensed a lot of the contenders, but the main Challenger still wants to race, and this event is very, very prestigious. Hotels get filled from an event like this. There is also the rather handy tie-in with Oman Sail, which is being bank-rolled by the Government to go out and compete in international events, and when the chance to hold a very big event right here in Oman comes along, they said no. It doesn't quite compute.


So Oman had the chance to host a sailing event, which was double hulled, of which they sponsor their own team to compete in various races around the world, all for "only" RO 2,500,000 - and they said no.

Oh well, our neighbours, Ras Al Khaimah have now successfully won the bid and are to be the host nation of the 33rd America's Cup between Feb 8th and 12th next year.

It would seem that Oman have just missed a trick. Significant advertisement for the country, filled hotels, increased tourist spending, near-free development of a Marina and the opportunity to promote it's own sailing team.

le fin

19 comments:

Suburban said...

I heard about this, and We're all completley Aghast that the government would let this one slip by. Great post!

Muscato said...

Maybe they were afraid it would pull focus from the vast international tourist draw, the Muscat Festival. (If I knew how to insert a frowny face, I would, right here).

sbtm said...

Things like this make you cry...

Anonymous said...

I'm not convinced this would necessarily have been either a great decision or the right thing for Oman.
- hosting the America's cup isn't exactly risk free. The publicity would be more intense than Oman has ever had to cope with and if anything were to go wrong (how about another 4-month red tide?), it could do huge harm to the country's tourism reputation
- The Wave isn't necessarily an ideal venue. I can't imagine the marina will be anything like finished in 2010, the rest of the place is mostly a building site too, and the backdrop (737s) isn't quite what one would get down at say the Bustan or Quriyat, and certainly not Aukland
- how could 2.5m be anywhere near what it would cost the local authorities to set up for something like this?
- if this is supposed to be during the winter, the hotels are going to be pretty full anyway, and probably largely booked already. We've already had one recent mass cancellation edict.
- and in any case, a bit LESS of the tourism publicity may not be a bad thing for a few years, IMHO...

So all in all, I'd personally have been quite surprised and more worried than optimistic had they announced Oman as the 2010 AC venue.

WM

Sythe said...

Suburban: Thanks for the link, and welcome to my blog :)

Muscato: Well, it IS the Muscat Festival! ;)

sbtm: Well if I were a retailer in somewhere like MCC then yes, I probably would be upset.

WM: You have a point, but what you didn't quite grasp (I didn't exactly explain it very well) was that the TEAMS themselves provide their own stuff, and a Marina made out of floating pre-cast Concrete pontoons can be constructed and installed inside of 3 months. There is little aircraft noise at the shoreline in The Wave development, and I personally don't think it would of been a problem. There is the very real risk of the Red Tide which, lets face it, ruined sea-based activities last winter for many people. What special setting up would the local authorities need to do? Added ROP presence? Everything except the boat yards and marina is already in place. The organizers of the AC would not of let it fail, just like the organizers of the F1 wont let it fail in Abu Dhabi.

Anonymous said...

The key thing that the America's Cup boats need is wind, and the wind here in Oman is simply not consistent enough. Over on the Gulf side, the onshore breeze picks up at about 2.30pm, to the same strength, just about every day of the year.
I doubt if it will even happen in RAK, given that the challengers are going to court over the proposed location.

Sythe said...

Anon -

Tests were carried out - as this was the AC organizers greatest worry - and the tests came back and it was satisfactory and enough wind would be there for a race. This was thoroughly checked.

Anonymous said...

Don't know who did the wind speed/consistency checking, but I'll state again - wind here in Muscat is simply not consistent enough for a match racing series. The statistics can be seen here:
http://www.windfinder.com/windstats/windstatistic_matrah_musqat.htm
and here:
http://www.windfinder.com/windstats/windstatistic_dubai.htm
You are 3 times more likely to get the necessary wind in the UAE vs Muscat area.
(Where can I claim my consultancy fees from?)
By the way, does anyone remember the Omani olympic windsurfing team? Are they still in existence?

Sythe said...

From the source I have, the tests were conducted, as it was the highest concern of the event organizers (the wind) but the wind speed readings were taken and it was decided that there would be sufficient wind to hold a race.

I would point out the obvious flaw in your referenced wind data. Muttrah (matrah) is a natural harbour with hills protecting it. Unless there is a direct wind coming straight in to the harbour, no wind readings are going to particularly descriptive of typical wind patterns in the area. Besides, the race was to be held off of The Wave (Azaiba/Seeb) coastline, where no such natural harbours exist, and thus are exposed to more wind.

Perhaps you might need to give it a bit more polish before starting to claim consultancy fees ;)

Anonymous said...

Check the figures for Seeb, if you want - they're the same as Mutrah.
As someone who has raced in many countries, from windsurfers to round the world yachts, I rest my case. - there's not enough wind for America's Cup yachts (even if one of them is going to be a catamaran/trimaran)

Sythe said...

I dont know how many times I need to say that the tests were done and the results were that there was enough. If you take issue with that I'm sure the organizers of the AC know what they are doing.

Anonymous said...

The wind isn't consistent enough, on paper it may appear to be, but the reality is much different. Anyone who has sailed in Oman will tell you this

Sythe said...

Either you have really spotty glasses, or you are not reading what I am typing: the tests were done and the results were that there was enough. It is that simple.

Slim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amber said...

perhaps anonymous know-it-all pants doesn't live in azaiba or seeb...there is enough wind. Of course the tests came back positive. I think that the point here is that it was INDEED established as a spot that was wanted...approved, signed and almost sealed, had it not been for the Omani government.

Whether anon thinks it is sailable or not is pointless. A good sail team can get it going with the smallest amount of wind...perhaps anon just isn't that good and that is why he can't quite get it up and going.

Anonymous said...

Amber, you really need to read and understand what other posters have said. The America's Cup is about sailing, not drifting.
A great idea for Oman, but let's see how the organisation of the Beach Games goes first.

Anonymous said...

Oman does not currently have a marina that has the necessary depths to suit America Cup racing yachts which have incredibly deep/long keels. The only options would be the port itself of the Naval Base out at Wudam. Neither are particularly appealing venues

Anonymous said...

I just came across this blog, and this post.

Our company was approached by team Alinghi to provide them with specialist services for the whole two month duration of this event.

Our company provides a completely Unique tourism based activity not available anywhere else in the gulf and Alinghi wanted to use us as specialist local support.

The opportunities for publicity and exposure both for Oman in general and our Omani company in particular were huge.

As a result of Oman "dropping the ball" on this - once again we fade into the obscure shadows to ponder what could have been.

As an addendum - despite being the first company ever to win support for this unique opportunity - events have conspired against us and certain authorities suddenly find it necessary to hinder our ability to sell our product.

It's likely we will shut up shop and take our services to the emirates - much to our dislike but what else can we do?

Wake up oman!

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