Fancy luggage maker and marquee America's Cup sponsor Louis Vuitton is looking for a $3 million refund now that the event is turning out to be kind of a dud. Despite the massive sports bars, the outdoor concerts, and even LV's own waterfront retail store, there's not much in the way of actual sailing. Louis Vuitton thought they were investing $10 million in a regatta, but it turns out they were helping to build a temporary mini-mall.
With only three teams racing, the 2013 America's Cup is the smallest competition since the 1980s, the San Francisco Business Times reports. Usually there are anywhere from 7-13 teams entered. (Artemis, the fourth team, may jump back in the races next month, once they rebuild their boat.)
According to LV's contract, the company gets $1 million of their sponsorship dollars back for every team less than six entered in the competition. Meaning they could get a $3 million refund which would probably be better spent, branding-wise, in free merchandise for Kanye.
Out on the water, there have been three "races" so far, none of which had more than one competitor at a time. From the shore, racing looks indistinguishable from the practice runs that have been going on for months. The only difference is how many camera boats are tagging along. The event was promoted as NASCAR on the bay — an extreme sport in which insanely wealthy men hire talented surrogates to compete for them in deadly races. What we actually get is a 45-minute YouTube video of guys turning cranks:
Not that these aren't interesting machines to watch; it's just that our dwindling attention spans would be better served by a two-minute highlight reel.
Meanwhile, back on land, the mini-mall at the America's Cup Village is buzzing, but not all the chatter is all that exciting either: With headliners like Sting and Fall Out Boy, the America's Cup Concert Pavilion has a summer schedule that rivals what you might find at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Anytown, USA. The biggest pop-up bar in the West has hit Pier 27 with room for 500 thirsty boating enthusiasts, but a can of Hamm's or Modelo will cost you $6. If the America's cup is trying to shed yacht racing's rich guy image, maybe a 1200% markup on cheap beer is not the best way to go about doing that.
As for Louis Vuitton — the company still has their own pop-up in the Village where one can pick up commemorative San Francisco purses for $1,430. The shop has its own private VIP viewing area, but even the company's own spokesrapper would rather pass to hang out in Hayes Valley.
Previously: All America's Cup coverage on SFist