Tuesday, July 13, 2010

If you go to San Francisco...

If you go to San Francisco in the near future you might not want to wear flowers in your hair as the song suggests but you will certainly want to catch the America's Cup action that will certainly take place there, especially now that BMW Oracle has declared the Californian city as the sole US candidate city. The decision shouldn't come as a surprise at all. San Francisco is after all the home port of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, the winner of the 33rd America's Cup, while Larry Ellison, owner of BMW Oracle, has repeatedly stated the city was his top choice. I, personally, cannot imagine any reason, other than some devastating earthquake, for NOT holding the world's oldest trophy in Ellison's backyard.

Yet, one thing that becomes apparent in the official communication regarding the choice is the focus by BMW Oracle on the "nationalization" of the venues and the efforts to host the Cup. The event is not hosted by a city but rather by a country. One similar example in the world of sports is the football (soccer) world championship that Spain won last Sunday. The championship wasn't hosted by a city but by a country. The opening and closing ceremonies and the final match might have taken place in Johannesburg but the rest of the games were held in another 8 different cities spread around the country.

Could this mean a much reduced role for the venue of the actual match? In the 32nd America's Cup all official racing that took place in Spain was in Valencia. If France, Spain, Italy or Portugal present "national bids" could this mean that the various annual pre-regattas would be held all around the countries rather than one city? With 6 to 8 regattas planned each year there is ample opportunity to stage them in a country. If one considers Valencia, Alicante is just 100 nautical miles away, Palma barely 80 while Barcelona is 200 miles further north. So, within a radius of 200 nautical miles you have 4 excellent venues. The same concept could be applied to France, Portugal or Italy. The ease of transportation being one of the fundamental aspects of the new yachts it is not hard to imagine why BMW Oracle has in mind.

Paragraph 24.1 of the 34th AC Draft Protocol even goes further and states that "The Match may be in more than one Venue." I have to admit it's the first time I have ever seen a document suggesting that a yacht race can be raced in more than one venues and it seems an aberration if you think in conventional terms. Take for example the 32nd America's Cup match in July 2007 in Valencia. Alinghi beat Emirates Team New Zealand 5 to 2 and no further races were necessary since it was a best-of-nine series. It would have been absurd halfway through, let's say after 3 races when the kiwis were leading 2-1 to pack up and go to Alicante for the remaining races. It would have even been considered a ploy by Alinghi to destabilize their opponent.

What could happen if instead of best-of-nine the match were best-of-twenty five? The worst case scenario is for one team to win 13 straight races and take the trophy undefeated. It is possible yet extremely improbable because it is extremely difficult to imagine such a differential in performance between the Defender and the Challenger. With a much longer series in the America's Cup match you could have the first ten races held in San Diego and even in the worst case the winner will not be decided. Then the Cup can move to San Francisco where the remaining and decisive races take place.

Does it seem too far fetched a scenario? Not according to some people...

Meanwhile in Valencia...
Two of the yachts that, according to BMW Oracle's official line, will help determine what boat will finally be used in the next AC are getting ready next to Alinghi's base. The eleven RC44 yachts that will take part in the Valencia RC44 Cup have already arrived and "BMW Oracle" and "17" are the first ones to be fitted out since they will have to be ready in 8 days for the 34th AC Trials.

Even if the America's Cup moves to the US what are the chances Valencia could still play a significant role in sailing's top event? First of all we hear from reliable sources that BMW Oracle will be staying in their base at least until December and with the infrastructure being already in place here it would make sense for the teams to stay until early 2013, assuming the match takes place in September 2013.

BMW Oracle's two RC44 yachts getting ready for next week's trials. Valencia, 12 July 2010. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis / Valencia Sailing

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At 2:46 PM, Blogger WetHog said...

How cool is it to see the "Deal Breaker", with BMWORacing on the side of it, sitting in the Alinghi base? Poetic justice?

As for Valencia taking part in AC34, I would have to think it will. Its a venue designed for the AC and it would be really stupid not to use it for at least one "Act" in Europe.

At 6:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wet Hog

No American Justice?

At 6:43 PM, Blogger WetHog said...

Nope. The defeat of EB was celebrated by more than just American's. Besides, not many American's were on board USA-17 right?

At 7:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were quite a few on the legal Team though, It'll be interesting to analyse their legal arguememts in the context of the final protocol, rules and relationaship with challengers after the "regime change"

At 10:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope BOR pays a hefty rent to put their boat on the alinghi base. Why not on theirs.

Pierre, you are very right in your anaalysis and start to put your finger on what really BOR and Coutts are: cheaters!

At 11:08 PM, Blogger Valencia Sailing said...

As I write in the article, the boats are next to the Alinghi base, not inside, and it's not only the BOR yachts, it's 10 of the 11 RC44 yachts that will take part in the Valencia RC44 Cup

At 12:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If RC and Co. are serious about thier desire for a cup more affordable for all teams, then unfortunately they cannot seriously consider SF as a location. I have lived in SF and Valencia with cup teams over the years, and the cost of living is way cheaper in Valencia. Its not only about building a boat and limiting sails and sailing time; accomodation etc is a massive part of your budget, and its about 3 times more expensive in SF. Couple that with the massive tax breaks that the Spanish goverment gives. I can see an act or 2 in SF, but any real drive to lower competing costs rules out SF.

At 6:18 PM, Blogger WetHog said...

Ok, the BMWO boats are on the "side" of the Alinghi base. Still at this time last year would it be possible to take a picture like that? Nope. What a difference a year makes though right?

I read Mr. Pierre's post and I didn't think "cheaters" after reading it. Can you elaborate, or does old habits/comments die hard?

Cost of living is a bullshit excuse for BMWO not to hold the AC defense in America. Alinghi started the "Venue to the highest bidder" bullshit, and its time that precedent is erased from the AC. GGYC/BMWO won the Cup fair and square and their home waters are off San Francisco. If other teams can't afford to buy a house in the suburbs than they aren't worthy to challenge for the Cup anyway.

At 9:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No it wouldn't have been possible, there was a big ass crane sitting where 17 is and Alinghi were using the base for the America's Cup.

Secondly you need to let it go wethog. Other than jaded kiwis i think you'll find most people outside the US think Ellison bought himself the America's Cup and that he doesn't deserve it as he couldn't win it the hard way despite spending more than every other team put together in the 2003 and 2007 cups.

And the cost of living in San Francisco is a very good reason for not having it there bearing in mind that most teams will be made up of around 100+ people and Oracle have advocated cost cutting.

At 11:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

. . . that and the US government is never, never, never going to cut a tax free deal for non-citizens to create for themselves a "haven in the Hills" like they poor Spaniards did for the tax dodging scum from the "America's Cup Community".

At 12:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wet Hog

Let's see if BMWOR run the 34th fair and square. From waht I hear there are a few confused challengers out there wondering if they read the wrong script.
Maybe more than afew are thinking they may have had a much fairer chnace of winning under the ACM protocol.

At 1:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


Well I see reading Pierre's article some fear they are adjusting rules to their advantage. In my words, this is cheating.

Your line about being able to buy a house in SF suburbs or not be worth challenging is so poorly stupid it is difficult to imagine. It is obvious you have no clue what it takes to put a team together.

BOR has money. Probably the only thing they have - and the cup these days;-) But now BOR should sticks to all the things they said over the past years. And they don't. I call that liers. Ehman = Chief lier Coutts = Second in command lier.

At 3:29 PM, Blogger WetHog said...

Oh ok, BMWO built a high tech yacht in record time and kicked Alinghi's ass to win the Cup. For some to say "They didn't win it the hard way" is silly. I don't pretend to know what goes into winning the AC, but I have followed everything leading up to AC33 and nothing I observed and read suggested it was easy.

In regards to some thinking BMWO is stacking the deck and feel they would be better off under Alinghi's original AC33 protocol, well they're probably either Alinghi's old lap dogs, or professional sailors that are eager to get back on the AC gravy train. I can't fault them for being bitter their over priced contracts are no more, but such is life right?

Once again, to the point holding the Cup in SF will be to expensive for teams to Challenge, well so what! The AC is expensive no matter how much some try to cut costs. If you got the loot then challenge, if you don't have the loot don't. Its not a charity regatta, its the America's Cup.

The days of +39, China Team, and UITG type challenges should be over. The AC is not a place for teams to "develop". It should be a place for legitimate teams to challenge for the most storied trophy in sports. If you want to develop a team to challenge for the Cup in the future, buy a TP52. I hear Team Origin and Luna Rossa might have boats to buy cheap.

At 4:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wet Hog.

You are obviously of the "old boys" school who believe that the AC should be a competition between rich Gentlemen and there is no place in this sport for rather unsavoury commercial sponsorship.

I very much doubt if any serious Challenger agrees with your position on cost, especially the wealthy ones who understand what it takes for a successfull campaign/ event and what they have to offer sponsors to raise the funding. Yes you need an exciting boat, regular racing and spectacular venues but most importantly you need competitors.

BMWOR promised all these things in the lead up to the 33rd AC contingent on winning, which they did. They talked particularly about cost reduction. In fairness to them they are working hard on the venues, regular racing, the boat design and Media product but it is all beginig to look too expensive.

If they don't focus more on bringing the cost down we could be looking at no more than 4/5 Challengers. If this happens team sponosorship values drop, venue deals become less lucrative, Media interest declines and the AC goes backwards.

Maybe thats what you want but I don't think it's what the Cup or our sport needs.

Have you ever thought about follwing the classic regattas? You might be happier.

At 9:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fully agree with you. Indeed wet hog should go to classic regattas as for sure he's got no clue on AC.

Wet hog, do you thinkBMW would pay anything near what they spend if there were only 5 teams competing?

At 11:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

American Idiot

At 2:30 PM, Blogger WetHog said...

@4:06 PM

I got no problem with costs being cut, but to say that the venue for the defense should be determined by how much it will cost to live there is bullshit. And that was what I was responding to. Defending the Cup in the Defenders home waters is as much a part of the America's Cup as that nice shiney tea pot that has a bunch of things engraved on it. Cutting costs is fine, but not at the price of tradition and what makes the Cup special. If ETNZ had beaten Alinghi in AC32 you think they could of gotten away with hosting the defense in Valencia because forcing challengers to relocate to NZ would of raised costs? I didn't think so.

@9:18 PM

When it comes to Larry Ellison and what he would spend to successfully defend, I have no idea, but I doubt he is worried so much about his bottom line.

@11:10 PM

Euro-Trash. See two can play that little internet name calling game.

At 6:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wet Hog,

Actually NZ is chaeper than Europe and the US it's problem is time difference and the cost of getting there.

I agree with your comment to 11.10

At 10:41 PM, Blogger WetHog said...

@6:30 PM

Anything short of having it in Valencia again is all that will appease these BMWO haters.

BMWO won, LE is from SF, and SF Bay will provide spectators with views of the racing from land not seen before in the AC. TheCup is coming home to the States where it belongs. Just in time to visit the Dentist, get tested for STD's, and kick the outragous nicotine habit it picked up in Europe. Get over it.

At 6:33 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wet Hog

Talk about get over it. You just don't make sense and you're rude with it.

This is obviously to stressful for you.Come over to Europe on holiday and pick up some duty free Marlboro on the way they may help you relax.

Remember this is only a game and in the scheme of things not that important.

At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

10:41 pm

How wrong you are. SF is where the Cup should take place. But then pleaecause Coutts is greedy and a liar. this is why.

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

last message did not come clean:

Please explain why BOR is then trying to negotiate with european cities.

The answer is because Coutts is greedy and a liar!


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