Sailing in the Ocean State
Yes, we lost the bid to host the America’s Cup, but there is still opportunity to grow our economy by focusing on sailing related business.
Warned ahead of time, the state administration immediately took a positive perspective, saying that Rhode Island is likely to host preliminary races that could become as big a benefit as the actual Cup defense….Keith Stokes, head of the state Economic Development Corporation and the leading state official on the issue, said the trials to select the Cup defender could involve several yachting syndicates.
Stokes said in an interview that the preliminary races in some ways offer a better opportunity than the final Cup challenge. Given the potential for multi-year events, “that provides a longer-term and stable economic opportunity.”
It would give Rhode Island time to re-build the sailing infrastructure required to host such events and, perhaps eventually have those facilities in place to make a strong bid to host a future America’s Cup race. One thing we do have is a natural bay that is well-suited to sailing.
Long-time yachting expert Halsey Herreshoff, president of the America’s Cup Hall of Fame, said he sees another, long-term bright side to the situation: Newport is an excellent place to sail. Once current America’s Cup sailors find that out through sailing preliminary races here, he reasons, they’ll want to come back for future Cup competitions.
Bidding for the next America’s Cup race was a long-shot and, though certainly worth a try, was akin to the sort of one-time fixes we’re apt to try for here in Rhode Island. Hopefully this will indeed be a blessing in disguise and we’ll seize on the heightened awareness that the sailing industry could be a bigger boon to the Ocean State. Whoda thunk?