From today's 'Lectronic Latitude, a very interesting summary of where we now are in the aftermath of the just concluded A-Cup:
It’s All About the Money
July 6 - Valencia, Spain
The big America’s Cup news is that the 33rd edition, to be held in either Valencia in ‘09 or somewhere else in Europe
by ‘11, will be competed for with a new class of 90-footers sailed by a crew of 20 or 21. Nobody seems sorry to see the current
America’s Cup boats about to be relegated to the dust bin, as they are just too slow and boring for the world’s most well-known yacht race.
But let’s take a moment to praise the just completed 32nd battle for the Auld Mug. If it wasn’t as exciting overall as the windy one in Fremantle in ‘87, when Conner and crew defeated the Kiwis 4-1, it was darn close. And, as opposed to previous Cups, the races in the Finals weren’t predictably over 10 seconds after the start. Alinghi and Emirates New Zealand
actually passed each other a number of times, and the racing was almost always delightfully close. Nonetheless, the most exciting moment of America’s Cup history
was provided by a brilliantly timed fluke in the weather
when, with just a short distance to go the finish line, the wind
went light and then reversed direction. With seemingly nobody having seen it coming, chutes had to be dropped and be replaced by headsails. It provided the Kiwis with a ‘hand of God’ chance to reclaim the race and keep their Cup hopes alive. They came up short by a second or two, losing the Finals by a score of 5 to 2, but it was as an electric
a finish to a major sporting event as one might hope for.
The 32nd America’s Cup was also a big hit with the public, particularly in Europe. Six million visited the America’s Cup venue in Valencia, and four billion watched at least some of it on television. The event was so popular that it even made a $42 million profit. Alinghi gets 50% of it, while the challengers get to split the other 50%, with larger amounts going to the teams that stayed in the competition the longest. Of course, half of $42 million is hardly going to make a dent in what the effort cost Alinghi. Indeed, it probably covers little more than the cost of the 300 jibs they had built.
The two biggest changes, in our opinion, needed for the next America’s Cup to be the most thrilling ever? First, for the venue to be moved to Cascais, Portugal
, where the most recent one was supposed to have been held. Just a short distance from Lisbon, Cascais is said to have San Francisco
Bay-type winds, meaning much stronger and more consistent breezes than found in Valencia. The second thing would for the 90-footers to be multihulls. Alinghi head
Ernesto Bertarelli is known to love multihulls, and once suggested to us that they’d be great for the America’s Cup. Alas, it looks like ‘sliding keels’, which is apparently Swiss for ‘drop keels’, will be allowed on the new 90-footers, and that doesn’t sound like something that would be found on a multihull
. By the way, the new 90-footers - the box rule
for which won’t be finalized for months - won’t be used in competition until 18 months before the Cup itself. Until then, the run-up events
will be sailed in the old America’s Cup boats.
* Paul Cayard was one of the first to say that the new 90-ft class would give a big advantage to Alinghi, the Defender, which is creating the parameters of the class. But then nobody ever said the America’s Cup was about being fair.
* Kiwi Brad Butterworth, the heart of the Alinghi team, said that Emirates Team New Zealand
, like the country of New Zealand, would unlikely be able to reach the next level as long as it’s run in such an autocratic manner. It was a clear slam at 1) New Zealand, where he’s building a $2 million home, and 2) ETNZ honcho Grant Dalton who, it must be noted, has enjoyed considerable sailing success as a result of being an autocrat.
* Louis Vuitton proclaimed that if the America’s Cup is just going to be about the money
, they will no longer be interested in sponsoring the elimination series as they have done for so many years. They think the event should be more about things like “elegance” and “tradition.” We doubt that the clock can be turned back now.
The Coutts and Cayard Question: Kiwi Russell Coutts, the winningest America’s Cup skipper
ever, who sat out this year after a beef with Alinghi, and Marin’s Paul Cayard, who also sat out this year, are two of the biggest legends in sailing. If the rumors are to be believed, BMW Oracle wants Coutts badly, and the Spanish Defender of Record
wants Cayard. There is just one juicy fly in the ointment. Coutts and Cayard recently announced that they were forming the international World Sailing League, which is to have 12 teams from around the world compete in the world’s major sailing venues using 70-ft one design catamarans. If the rumors are true, and if BMW Oracle and the Spanish are willing to dangle enough money
in front of the two, we’d have to think that the World Sailing League will never touch water
All in all, there’s a lot of fun America’s Cup topics to muse about while we enjoying sailing on our own boats.
- latitude / rs