Scuttlebutt News Center:
Andy Green On the ACTion
by Michelle Slade, in Trapani
(October 3, 2005) Race commentator Andy Green clearly loves what he does…bringing live America’s Cup racing to anyone listening. Here in Trapani, Green joins fellow Brits Matt Sheahan, Mark Covell, and Richard Simmonds in the production of the English speaking program for America’s Cup Radio, which broadcasts live on FM Radio locally, on the internet at www.americascup.com, on VHF (Channel 60 in English and 62 in Italian), and in the America’s Cup Park and press center.
With his huge enthusiasm, quick quips, and in-depth knowledge of match racing, Green’s not only qualified for the job, but his many hours this year commentating on the water in Malmö and now Trapani have provided him with unique insight on the new era of the America’s Cup.
Q: What’s your personal opinion of the direction that the Louis Vuitton Acts are taking?
Andy: I really think the Acts have been a great success. It’s really been a first effort for the America’s Cup to bring the sport into the modern age. In my view it was in the dark ages before. It took a huge amount of money to challenge every four years and the return was about 3 months of action, and of that, only about 2 or 3 weeks of semi-finals and finals. For the sponsors to cough up millions of dollars, for 2 ½ years of secrecy and a few months of action, it was completely unsustainable. The Acts have been the right thing by necessity as much as anything else. I think the Cup would have really struggled to move anywhere if the Acts hadn’t been introduced.
Q: What do you consider to be the most positive aspect of the Acts?
Andy: For me looking forward, this is just a first effort and it’s been a huge success. We’re here in Trapani, Sicily and the crowds are enormous, they’re trying to get in, get involved, be part of the action, see the America’s Cup trophy which is on view. We had 25,000 people at the opening ceremony here – in little Trapani with a population of 70,000! I’m sure some of them are just punters coming around for a look, however, they all buy a hat or a t-shirt, and the kids love it – it’s all great (Ed’s note: the line outside the official clothing store was 30 deep long waiting outside the store on Saturday to purchase gear).
Q: There’s been plenty of negative commentary in the United States about the Acts. Do you see the event returning to what it was?
Andy: I don’t think anybody, whoever wins the Cup, will be able to do it any differently now. The progress and development has gone this far. The Kiwis can’t afford not to and neither can Larry Ellison. The Acts are becoming bigger than anything, the sponsors will demand it, and the people will demand it, so I think it will happen.
Q: What’s your vision for the Cup beyond 2007?
Andy: Looking beyond 2007, I see that being the time when it’s really going to go big. A lot of the sponsors here, eg., Emirates, will go to Dubai for an Act, San Francisco for an Act, China, Germany, France, etc. I think we’ll have 3 years of traveling the world with certain blocks of time put out when there’s no testing, no other sailing, just participating in the Acts with the boats and teams being shipped around – a season in Europe, a season in America, and a season in Asia.
Q: We’re seeing less than professional performances amongst the second tier challengers. Is the Cup the place for these teams?
Andy: It’s very important that you have teams right through the field. I think it would be a real shame if we only had 4 or 6 teams. You can look at any other sport, be it Formula 1, football, whatever, where you have teams at the bottom of the ladder that are really trying to move forward. They are typically young teams who have only been around for a year or two and really trying to improve their game. The Acts and the new European venue for the America’s Cup are encouraging these people to be involved. Sure, it’s not right yet and some of them aren’t good enough but they are going to work on it and learn the lessons from their mistakes and they’ll improve. If they don’t, the sponsors won’t look after them. I think some people will fall by the way side because they either don’t perform or don’t offer enough to sponsors. I think it’s great that we can see battles like the Germans and the South Africans here in Trapani on Day 3, which was a nail biter all the way around the racecourse. There were a few operator errors and mistakes but they were tied together with a piece of string and never went beyond 2 or 3 boat lengths of each other. It made for great excitement and everyone loved it.
Q: Live coverage is making a huge difference and has come along way since you and Dawn Riley covered the UBS Trophy live in Newport (RI), last year – what does it mean to you?
Andy: Live coverage is a big part of the Acts moving forward, and for me it is very exciting, particularly radio. The length of a race is about an hour and a half, so all day racing is about 5 or 6 hours of broadcast. It reminds me a bit of cricket, something you don’t sit down and watch all day long on TV. You have it on the radio while you are running around doing other stuff during the day and every so often there’s some exciting move, there’s a pre-start, or there’s a spinnaker blowout or pole break. You come back to it, turn the volume up a few notches, listen to the action and enjoy the excitement. I think sailing works particularly well on the radio for these reasons.
Q: What feedback are you receiving on your coverage?
Andy: As broadcasters, we hope we’re improving our game. More people want to hear sailing explained in easier and simpler terms. Rather than the quick half hour TV show, radio gives us a bit more time to explain to the non-sailor some of the more technical aspects of sailing that can be quite complicated. We can really simplify it for them so when they see it on the TV, it becomes clear. Funny enough, the negative feedback is coming from teams upset with some of the partiality in regard to when we get excited about one team while another team is having a bad day. To me, that is really, REALLY good because it means people are starting to care!
*** Note *** In Valencia, the average connection time for listening to the streaming audio on www.americascup.com was 23 minutes. In Malmo it increased to 35, and in Trapani so far, 43 minutes.