Thursday, 2 August 2007

Run Your Own America's Cup Campaign - Part 1

With the lawyers busy doing their warm up exercises, The Afterguard takes the opportunity during this lull in activity to present the first in its series of how to 'Run Your Own America's Cup Campaign'.

Over the coming days, weeks, months & years (yes it really will be that long), The Afterguard will be taking an irreverent look at what it takes to mount a successful America's Cup campaign.
Everything hereafter is alleged and not at all true (The Afterguard has no wish to visit the New York Supreme Court or any other!).

Part 1 - Mounting a Challenge
Novice taxidermists take note: Only if your challenge goes to court will it involve any 'stuffing' - here we refer to the organisational techniques involved in being included in a cup campaign.

It may seem obvious to most, but the first task in presenting a successful campaign is to:

1. Know the rules by which you are governed.

This requires the careful study of the following documents:

i/ The Deed of Gift. It was written many years ago in a time before greed, skulduggery & un-sporting behaviour was known of, so it tends to take a lot for granted; this is good news for the novice team, as it presents a lot of 'wriggle room' - interpreted correctly you can get away with an awful lot even before you have to 'lubricate' your path into the Cup.

ii/ The Protocol. Anything the Deed of Gift appears to suggest unacceptable, the protocol will usually make acceptable. It is a document generated by the current defenders of the cup & which often cleverly contradicts the Deed of Gift while introducing yet further 'wriggle room'. Novice taxidermists take note: there may be an opportunity to practice your stitching skills at this stage, but only once you've successfully won the cup & are now looking to defend it.

2. Arrange to represent a 'sailing club'.

There are a couple of methods to achieving this:

i/ Visit a long-established organisation with an impeccable reputation & convince them there is much prestige in being identified with you (unleash your novice taxidermist if necessary).

ii/ Gather a few mates in a bar and try to think up a name for a new 'sailing' club (be sure to write down some of your ideas before alcohol takes grip, otherwise you might have to repeat the whole process).

Note: If following the second suggestion, be aware that there are a number of conditions to establishing that your new club is acceptable, but these are issues that need not concern you at this stage - everything necessary can be done much later, once you're up and running.

3. Arrange to have something to sail.

*Top Tip*
For this, we strongly recommend a boat - to date, only boats have been known to win the America's Cup. Better still, a boat which complies with the current America's Cup standard (for boats) will do nicely. Don't worry that the current America's Cup standard is known to be changing, nor that it is not clear as to what it is to be changing to. None of this matters right now. The important thing is to go to your bank (piggy or otherwise) and borrow the money to buy someone else's old boat. If the bank manager enquires as to what might be wrong with the boat that someone else no longer wants it, resist the temptation to tell them to discuss the matter with a novice taxidermist; bank managers are highly trained in the technique of 'spotting one a mile off' and it may be wise not to upset any that are agreeable to meeting with you.

4. Making your challenge.

Without a shadow of a doubt, making your challenge official is by far the greatest hurdle you will have faced up to this stage. There are a lot of people involved in running the America's Cup, and having decided to challenge, having created your club and having secured your boat, you really don't want to go and blow it all by asking the wrong person if you can participate. If you don't know who's who, it would be all too easy to go and talk with the owner of another team thinking they were in charge of running the whole show - just imagine the shame!

No, it's important to do your homework first. Have you studied the organiser's website thoroughly? Often, there's a wealth of useful information provided, and in recent years a great deal has been done to simplify the process of applying, as illustrated by the following image, gratefully taken from the current campaign's website (© ACM).

Please note that the helpful red box placed around the email address to which challenge applications should be sent is our inclusion - you won't find it on the actual website itself, so do be sure to look carefully (especially if your name is 'Larry').

Note that the 'entry' page of the organiser's website is quite unhelpful as it doesn't include any instruction as to how to proceed, so now might be a good time to bookmark this Afterguard page so you can return to it should you need.

We recommend formatting your application thus:

Subject: Can we join, please

Dear your excellency,

We would very much appreciate the opportunity to participate in the forthcoming America's Cup, wherever and whenever that might be.

We have joined/have set up/will set up* a bona fide sailing club, as required.
We have a boat. We have a boat that was once suitable for the America's Cup.
We agree to having no rights whatsoever once accepted as a challenger.

Additionally, we have oodles of money and not much sense.

We would very much like to participate in the next cup and we look forward to your approval with much anticipation.

Yours Faithfully,

Your name here.

* delete as applicable.

There you go, you've just met all the qualifying criteria and made your challenge.

Pending acceptance of your entry, do check back soon when we'll cover other areas of your 33rd America's Cup campaign, including, 'How Do You Sail A Boat?' and 'Who Pays For Stuff?'.

Note to regular readers: Don't ask, I'm just in a strange mood.

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