The Harbor Report: Bringing sailing to the forefront

January 20, 2011|By Len Bose
  • America's Cup Event Authority CEO Craig Thompson, right, speaks as Chairman Richard Worth looks on beside the event trophy during the presentation for the 34th annual America's Cup at City Hall in San Francisco on Jan. 5.
America's Cup Event Authority CEO Craig Thompson,… (BECK DIEFENBACH,…)

I was granted an interview this week with Craig Thompson, chief executive of the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA), which is overseeing the 34th America's Cup, to be sailed in San Francisco Bay in August 2013.

Thompson, a Newport Beach resident, was born in Pasadena in 1949. He has worked his way up the sports marketing ladder. He was director of volleyball for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and launched the first World Beach Volleyball championships in Rio de Janeiro in 1986.

He has also worked in Switzerland for the International Equestrian Federation, and then spent four years with the track and field division of the International Assn. of Athletics Federations, where he contributed to the marketing strategy, TV and sponsorship sales, as well as management of all major IAAF events worldwide. Thompson is best known for his marketing campaigns for the UEFA Champions League.

ACEA's chief executive is responsible for branding, venues, facilities, sponsorships and commercial partners, and the television programming.


Here's my interview with Thompson:

Question: Welcome to town. I noticed you moved in a little more than a year ago. How did you come about selecting Newport Beach as your primary residence?

Answer: I grew up in Santa Ana and then moved to Newport Beach after I graduated [from] UCLA, so I already had the pleasure of living in the area. Then after 25 years living and working in Europe, my wife and I decided to move back to Newport Beach, where our extended families now live.

Q: Do you have time to use our harbor?

A: I have a great love and respect for the water, so one of my focuses for the 34th America's Cup has been the creation of a comprehensive sustainability program that can benefit all of the world's oceans, not just bodies of water near our host cities. I'm excited to engage people around the world in ocean conservation and share how we can all make a positive impact so our oceans and marine life flourish once again.

Q: I understand [billionaire Larry] Ellison has set a mandate to bring younger people to the sport of sailing. Will we see members of the America's Cup Teams visit our junior programs or possibly receive local media attention? For example, the NFL reporting on junior football programs from around the country?

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