Getting the America's Cup
Would Help Buoy Economy

Water Ways
Honolulu Star Bulletin (8/08/98)
By Ray Pendleton

With 30 yachts from around the world currently competing here in the Kenwood Cup International Offshore Series, this may be the perfect time to re-address the potential economic impact of Hawaii's America's Cup challenger, Aloha Racing, on our island state.

After all, the biennial Kenwood Cup itself has been shown to create jobs and bring several million dollars into Hawaii's economy each year it is held.

First, consider Aloha Racing's announcement last week that it has signed an agreement with Ko Olina, LLC, to berth and test its boat, or boats, at the new Ko Olina marina, adjacent to Barber's Point Deep Draft Harbor, where they will be built.

That serves notice that our state can provide a place for both state-of-the-art boat construction and world-class, in-the-water facilities.

It's something sailors everywhere have longed for for decades, and Ko Olina will, no doubt, reap its rewards with new sales.

Even before our state's economy capsized, our recreational boating industry was stagnate due to a lack of available moorings in our state-run marinas. Boats aren't sold when there is no place to put them.

Now, spotlighted by Aloha Racing, Ko Olina will have a new, privately operated marina with 400 available slips, and those slips translate into a potential for 400 new-boat sales.

It then follows that along with boat sales, will come the need for boat parts and service centers, tackle shops, sail makers, and other services demanded by recreational boaters.

And when Aloha Racing's colorful boat, Abracadabra 2000 - painted by Wyland, no less - begins racing in the America's Cup Challenge in Auckland, New Zealand, in the fall of next year, it will be a constant reminder to millions of ESPN viewers of Hawaii's commitment to the highest level of sailing competition and of our incomparable islands.

If the recent publicly funded Miss Universe beauty pageant was thought to provide good viewer impressions, I would think Aloha Racing's presence in the world's most famous yacht race would have a significant impact as well.

The biggest effect Aloha Racing would have on Hawaii's economy, of course, would be if Abracadabra 2000 has the magic to prevail in New Zealand and win the America's Cup.

When San Diego hosted the 1992 America's Cup regatta - after Dennis Conner brought back the Cup from Fremantle, Australia - it was estimated that the gross revenues were about $1.2 billion. That's billion - with a B.

Now, even with a lagging Asia-Pacific economy, it has been predicted New Zealand will see an economic windfall of something like $1.8 billion from its America's Cup 2000 event. It doesn't take an economist to reason that if Aloha Racing were to prevail in Auckland and America's Cup 2003 was held in Hawai`i, the revenues would top $2 billion.

Add to that economic impact the huge amount of newspaper, magazine, Internet, and TV exposure Hawai`i would receive while hosting an America's Cup and I think you can see why even Gov. Cayetano - who admits finding no enjoyment in boating - supports Aloha Racing's efforts to win the Cup.

It is my hope you will support it, too.

Last week's Column -|- More Water Ways

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