2011 Retrospective Part 2 of 4
Fortunately, the chance arose to apply these lessons when Carbonicboats was hired almostimmediately by the then Official Challenger from Italy.
Having carefully done my homework on their funding, management, and philosophy, I was impressed by the commercial approach they advocated and (vitally) comfortable that the backing was in place to implement the strategies they had formulated.
Specifically, they showed proof of having in place the underwriting necessary to get through the campaign, and they presented some innovative plans to independently increase the value offered to partners through initiatives taking advantage of up-to-the-minute social media tools.
As with any business, these are two key components: capital to get a product to market, and a coherent strategy to recover the investment.
Armed with this knowledge, I was enthusiastic about bringing on board some of the key players I had already worked with, as well as some outstanding new talent both in the technical realm and in the sailing team.
AC45 purchased and loaded. Next stop Portugal…
As the key deadlines passed for qualification and entry (deadlines that had already been postponed and whose associated barriers had been considerably lowered), it became clear that the commercial viability of the proposed format was being questioned by many, with good reason.
The uncertainties that persisted exacerbated the lack of confidence in an already bear market. Question marks still existed on venues, dates, budget capping mechanisms, balance of power, competitiveness of the existing players, commercial arrangements, allocations at the race villages, and broadcast deals…
In a further change to an already moving target, the ACWS was effectively de-coupled form the CSS and the AC ‘proper’, altering the nature of the commercial proposition that teams were presenting to prospective partners.
This radical change was a revelation that the new ‘democracy’ could easily be ‘tweaked’.
For those who had already paid up, and done the necessary work to be in a position to take on the original calendar, the change had significant implications.
The stated motivation for the change was that, as things stood, there were only three Challengers.
But that is still the case when one looks at the AC today, as distinct from the ACWS.
Accumulating uncertainties surrounding an event that had been totally reinvented after shedding all momentum due to several years of unglamorous litigation, an incredibly volatile economy, and a difficult relationship between the team owners and event organisers, led to the last minute (the day before the first race) exit of what was the only funded and staffed Italian team in the event.