Monday, June 28, 2010

Venezia Challenge: Serious America's Cup challenger or publicity stunt?

The 34th America's Cup is still in its infant stages. BMW Oracle won the 33rd edition of the world's oldest sports trophy less than 5 months ago in Valencia, the first official press conference took place in Roma less than 2 months ago while the first draft of the governing rules was published a mere 5 days ago. Finally, the official challenging period still hasn't opened and will run from October until next January.

There is, obviously, a number of teams despite lacking the official stamp as challengers have stated quite often their intention to do so, such as Emirates Team New Zealand, Team Origin or Artemis, to name a few. So far, technically speaking, the only team to have challenged BMW Oracle, is Mascalzone Latino, the Challenger of Record. The other Italian long-standing America's Cup participant, Luna Rossa, hasn't made any official announcement and its owner, Patrizio Bertelli, hasn't publicly voiced his opinion on the draft protocol, or any other issues concerning the 34th America's Cup.

Yet it is from Italy that, out of the blue, came the news about a potential team for this edition of the trophy. It appears that a businessman from Milan called Carlo Magna was mandated 2 years ago by the then mayor of Venice, Massimo Cacciari, to create an America's Cup team in order to represent the historical Italian city, called Venezia Challenge. Apparently, the project didn't go through until last Tuesday when a press release was sent announcing that an Italian lawyer called Emanuela Pulcino had filed an application in the Milan Chamber of Commerce for the registration of the trademark of "Venezia Challenge". According to the same release, the trademark "refers to categories 12 (vehicles, apparatus for locomotion by land air or water) and 25 (clothing, footwear, headgear)." There is practically nothing more in the release other than a statement that according to "reliable sources" it is almost certain a yacht with the name Venezia Challenge will take part in the 34th America's Cup.

Very little is known of Carlo Magna and our Italian sources don't have any further information on him or the alleged team. They do have a website, (obviously) as well as a twitter account Is this for serious or just a publicity stunt?

One aspect that might reveal the seriousness (or lack of it) of the alleged team is their apparent discontent with the entry fee and performance bond required by BMW Oracle, 1.5 million euros (not dollars as put in the statement) and 3 million dollars respectively. This translates to roughly 5 million dollars, far higher than the 50 thousand euros Alinghi was requiring 2 years ago in their effort to have as many teams as possible, probably hoping this would play in their favor in the long legal dispute against BMW Oracle. I can't believe that anyone serious enough to join the top sailing competition in the world would have expected the entry fee not to be at least over 1 million dollars! It is not the TP52 circuit.

Here's what Carlo Magna stated to the Italian news agency Adnkronos (the translation is mine):
"We believe that the draft protocol is essentially positive", states businessman Carlo Magna, who together with his business partner Emanuela Pulcino is in charge of Venezia Challenge, "although we consider that the US$ 1.5 million inscription fee and US$ 3 million bank guarantee do not seem consistent with what has been previously stated by the Defender on cost containment measures. We understand, and appreciate, that the objective of the Defender is to select Challengers with a high technical level, but there is a risk that this choice limits the participation only to very "liquid" owners and discourages emerging projects, such as Venezia Challenge, that come with the intention of having more companies joining the project."

"We learn with pleasure, though", continues Magna, "that there is a sensitivity towards the return on investment for the sponsors and partners, as well as the choice of an organizing independent authority (called America's Cup Race Management, ACRM), neutral management (the Regatta Director will be designated and appointed by the WSTA) and the powers of the independent Jury."

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At 5:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pierre, please check your notes and you'll see that 32AC entry fee was zero and bond 1M euros. In addition as a challenger you were receiving a base and tax cuts. In Auckland, entry fee was probably around 500'000.

Now what does the organizer offer for such a fee: nothing. Not a venue, not a class, nothing.

The challengers should expect high entry fee you say. So should they expect professionalism from organizers, I say.

Their behavious is not tp52, it is not even the one of local opt regatta.

At 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can someone explain what is so neutral in having a ragatta director name by wsta of which boor is a shareholder and of which vuitton potential sponsor of the event is involved?

At 10:23 PM, Blogger WetHog said...

Fuxia Challenge under a different name?

And to you haters that posted above me, how about you save your whinning for when the final protocol comes out.

At 11:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grump Hog

Will do!

At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

to 5:30 PM anaon,

it is in a way "neutral" because the WSTA is an open organisation i.e. any other AC team can join and participate in the decision making processes including the decision who will be assigned as regatta director.

At 3:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


The question is why should a yacht club have to become a member of WTSA to be at the "top table" in discussions about the future of the AC and why should WTSA members enjoy lower entry fee's.
Looks like an attempt to create a cosy club that was established by BMWOR before they won the 33rd AC to control challengers. It would help if there was some transparency about what other preferential benefits memebers (share holders)get for falling in line.

At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

some of you seem to forget that BMWOracle is calling the shots now. Like it or not but that is how the AC works. That said I would like to point out there is a remakable (and positively refreshing) difference in the way BMWOracle runs the show when comparing with Alinghi in AC33.

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


In case you missed it BMWOR called most of the shots on the 33rd AC. Through the courts.

At 12:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

5:24 PM - and what did Alinghi offer the challenger and the world for the 33rd?

Zippo as they didn't want to prepare anything. We were lucky that Barbara jumped in after the NYSC told Alinghi they couldn't read the court's orders.

Btw how much benefit has the VLC gotten out of the base and tax cuts. Have they broken even yet? Doubtful. Maybe GGYC is being more realistic and upfront about the costs. Give them a chance but doesn't it seem so far they are open and having all teams involved rather than here's the Alinghi Cup take it or leave it.....

At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are desperately naive or blind. You talk about the 33, but avoid the 32 where teams were treated better than they have ever been. And you think coutts is fair. Ha ha! He is the worst and you will discover it but too late,


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