America’s Cup: Deadline looms for 35th Edition

While the America’s Cup has drifted from the news focus following the storybook ending for the 34th Match last September, there continues to be much activity behind the scenes. With Oracle Team USA CEO Russell Coutts wanting to confirm the host venue and announce the rules for the 35th America’s Cup by March 1, here is an update of information that has risen to the surface…

Format: Defense syndicate CEO Russell Coutts expects the 35th America’s Cup to be sailed in foiling catamarans between 60 and 65 feet long, and have hired an entity to design the rules for the next Cup. To reduce costs, the number of crew members may shrink to 8 from the 11 crew on the AC72 for the 34th Match. They also are considering re-imposing a nationality rule, and are looking to consolidate the races into just one month in August 2017. The 34th America’s Cup spanned nearly three months.

San Francisco bid: The America’s Cup Event Authority received a letter from the City on December 23 to host the 35th Match, with the plan to use Piers 27-29 (cruise ship terminal area) for the America’s Cup Park and Team Bases as well as Piers 19.5, 23, 31 and a section of Pier 80 for team use. A portion of Marina Green, including the Peninsula area, would be used for public viewing and bleachers. A significant change for this next America’s Cup is shifting the team bases to the America’s Cup Park at Piers 27-29. In 2013, the defender was at Pier 80, two challengers were at Piers 30-32, and one challenger was in Alameda.

Numbers: When the Bay Area Council Economic Institute conducted a study prior to the 34th America’s Cup on the expected economic impact of the event if San Francisco were to host the event, they relied on past events to help determine the costs and expenses. Following the event, the Economic Institute is still processing revisions from the San Francisco city controller, but the numbers included in this report are not expected to change significantly.

Hindsight: One mistake in the planning for the 34th America’s Cup was trying to connect the hosting agreement to a complicated real estate transaction. The city pledged last time to give Oracle’s Larry Ellison the long-term development rights to Piers 30-32 in exchange for repairing the dilapidated piers. That deal eventually fell apart, bruising feelings on both sides. The other misstep was the city’s pledge to raise $22 million in private donations to defray the race costs. The city came up with just $9 million and was forced to make up the rest from the general fund and tax revenues.

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