In Praise Of The America’s Cup

17 Sep 2021 | 10.36 am

In Praise Of The America’s Cup

National Yacht Club commodore stresses US appeal

17 Sep 2021 | 10.36 am

Commodore Martin McCarthy makes the case the America’s Cup yacht race in Cork.

This week sees the launch on Netflix of the long awaited documentary ‘Schumacher’, which covers in detail the sensational F1 debut of the future world champion in the Jordan Grand Prix 191 Ford.

For the last 30 years Ireland has benefited from being heavily associated with those amazing sporting moments, as the green F1 car boldly carried ‘Ireland’ on its side panels.

The year of 1991 was a desperate time, as the country struggled to industrialise. The IDA had done tremendous work in getting some great companies to Ireland, such as Intel and Pfizer, but the battles to convince their boards and engineers that Ireland could handle the most sophisticated and complex engineering processes had yet to be waged, especially in America.

Intel is today Ireland’s most valuable industrial facility, by far. But in the early 1990s, when they considered building their first wafer fabrication facility, they were concerned that we had few or no suitably experienced engineers.

Bord Failte were also keen to move Ireland’s tourism offering up the ladder and away from a donkeys and carts rural idyllic image.

Engineering Boost 

This was the reasoning behind the government’s support of Jordan Grand Prix’s incredible first year in F1, the highlight of which turned out to be debuting the greatest race driver ever.

A side benefit of the Jordan association was that legions of Irish schoolchildren started following the team – and its engineering guru, Gary Anderson, who was made a fellow of Engineers Ireland.  Awareness of engineering as a career option skyrocketed, with Formula Student, STEPS and other programmes contributing hugely.

Today, Ireland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world but our challenge continues to be to grow local technical folks – and  also attract the very best talent from around the world – to work and enjoy Ireland.

The America’s Cup is F1 on the water and the suggestion that it be run in Cork in 2024, is one worthy of serious consideration.  Others have already done a detailed cost-benefit analysis, but sometimes it is the less visible and somewhat intangible side benefits that make hosting really worthwhile.

Ireland has run a World Championships for Laser Sailing, expertly, in August this year, so we have the skillsets to host the America’s Cup. 

These AC boats are the most sophisticated on the planet — pushing out the boundaries of new materials and aerodynamics — and the event itself will be seen around the world, but especially in the US.

Corporate Appeal 

The US multinational companies in Ireland are in permanent competition with other locations to attract the next generation of pharmaceutical or semi-conductor development or production.

A key ingredient of winning the next generation investment is Ireland’s attractiveness for foreign executives and their families.  We have a head start in that race, in that Irish people have helped build America since the very beginning, we speak the same language, a huge number of Irish people have worked in America and we are in the EU. 

But we need to continually convince firms that we are a friendly and technically and organizationally capable people.

To host the America’s Cup, one of the USA’s most revered events, would be a quantum leap for Ireland’s image in corporate America and inspire our next generation of school kids to consider and work futures in engineering and science.

Martin McCarthy (pictured) is vice chair of the chemicals division of Engineers Ireland and outgoing Commodore of the National Yacht Club.

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