BMW Oracle Racing flies Panama flag; to be renamed Bananas Originales Racing
It appears that today, April 1st, an important number of scoops and exclusives made the rounds around the internet. Nevertheless, thanks to our privileged location in Valencia and true to our spirit of investigative photo journalism, we uncovered one of the best-kept secrets of the 33rd America's Cup.
Right after noon here in Valencia, the Challenger of Record's shore crew lowered the American flag from the rooftop of their immense base and raised the Panamanian one. Our photographer Barb Dwyer was obviously there and captured the scene on his camera. As of noon today, BMW Oracle Racing (BOR) is a Panama-registered entity.
Renowned shipping lawyers Al Beback and Raisyu Five, partners of London-based Ben Thayer & Don Thatt, told Valencia Sailing that flying the Panama flag was the best solution for the San Francisco-based yacht club.
Not only do they register the team in a tax heaven, just ask the Greek shipping magnates, the Challenger of Record can now race in every country of the world and easily bypass all potential problems a US entity could face. Panama has diplomatic relations with all countries in the world (including Cuba, North Korea and Iran) and all Panama-registered companies can freely carry out business anywhere without any restriction whatsoever.
Finally, as far as sponsorship is regarded, both BMW and Oracle voiced their concerns in view of a possible race in Cuba. As a result, Larry Ellison reached an agreement with the Panama Banana Growers Association and according to our information, the team will be renamed Bananas Originales Racing, making it possible to retain the BOR initials.
If the 33rd America's Cup Match takes place off the Cuban coast, BOR will have no legal restrictions to participate. In addition, given the fact the length of each leg in the upwind-downwind race is 20 miles, the two yachts will reach international waters. As a result, Larry Ellison, a US citizen, can freely watch them round the top mark onboard his yacht "Rising Sun".
The BMW Oracle Racing base after the Panama flag was raised. Valencia, 1 April 2008. Photo copyright Barb Dwyer / Valencia Sailing