Vincenzo Onorato replies to Salvatore Sarno
Salvatore Sarno, owner of Team Shosholoza, the first ever America's Cup challenger to come from Africa, stated in a recent interview in the Italian newspaper Quotidiano Nazionale that the 34th America's Cup was very expensive and as a result Shosholoza wouldn't be taking part. Vincenzo Onorato, owner of Mascalzone Latino, Challenger of Record, sent Quotidiano Nazionale a letter, replying to Captain Sarno's claims. [Note: The translation from the original Italian text is mine]:
I take inspiration from the interview by Captain Sarno in your newspaper to provide my testimony on the current state of the America's Cup and the budgets the teams that will require in order to participate. Captain Sarno is obviously not informed about the latest changes in the Protocol, dating from December 12th, among which it is reported that the entry fee was lowered to US$ 100,000 instead of € 1 million. The performance bond instead of US$ 3 million dropped to US$ 1 million (200,000 by April 1, 2011 and 800,000 by December 31, 2011).
Russell Coutts (left) and Vincenzo Onorato. Rome, 6 May 2010. Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget / BMW Oracle
The spirit with which we acted Russell and I was to dramatically reduce costs; the proof is that for the first time in the history of the Cup, during the first two years racing will be held on one-design yachts of 45 feet. This decision was also motivated to provide time for the teams to find sponsors and funding. I have never stated the minimum budget would be € 80 million. It is plausible Captain Sarno could do the next America's Cup with Shosholoza by spending € 17 million as he stated his budget was in the 32nd edition. This is certainly not a budget to win but the Captain Sarno has demonstrated he was able to achieve more than flattering results with limited resources.
The heart of the problem is different: the world economic situation is very different from the ebullient financial markets that marked the 32nd edition. It is correct when Captain Sarno refers to "these times" as "crazy". For Russell and me this has resulted in filling, in reduced terms, the event and therefore the value of the sponsors' investments.
I would also like to remind that Mascalzone Latino's position is not different from that of the other teams. We do not have any sponsors to date, although we have some important negotiations in progress, and it is our subjective interest (to be able to participate in the event) and objective as Challenger of Record (to have many teams in the race), to keep costs as low as possible. We at Mascalzone Latino declare in all honesty that we are struggling to survive. With the same clarity I would have preferred that important teams such as Team Origin and Shosholoza, instead of using pathetic excuses related to the event format, the catamaran revolution and the budgets, to name a few examples, they limited themselves with more dignity in declaring that at this moment they had no money and no prospects for a sponsor.