America’s Cup: Larry Ellison eyeing Honolulu for 35th Match

by Julian Guthrie, San Francisco Chronicle
Larry Ellison sat in the quiet living room of his Woodside home and talked about what comes next, after winning the America’s Cup for the second time in September 2013, an epic victory being called “the comeback of comebacks.”

His vision for the next America’s Cup, detailed in a series of exclusive interviews over several months, involves the staging of regattas all over the world – leading up to the Louis Vuitton Cup, and the main event, the America’s Cup, likely taking place in Honolulu.

This competition would be a departure from anything done before, and would mean that – unless negotiations turn around – San Francisco will not be the host city for the next Cup.

While outlining his vision for the 35th America’s Cup, Ellison acknowledges that much needs to happen before his plan is a reality, and that Team USA CEO Russell Coutts remains actively – and earnestly – in talks with other venues, from San Francisco and San Diego to Newport, R.I.

Ellison’s ideas for the 35th America’s Cup advance his goal of attracting a wider audience to the sport of sailing and to the 163-year-old regatta. He called the races of the 34th America’s Cup “the most magnificent spectacle” he’d ever seen on the water and believes the regatta has “changed sailing forever.”

As for the next Cup, “we’re going to start with two years of globe-trotting, Formula One-style racing in AC45s,” Ellison said. “AC45s are inexpensive to build, transport, and sail. You can throw an AC45 and its support equipment and chase boats into a couple of containers and ship them to regattas all over the world: Shanghai, Tokyo Bay, Marseilles, the Port of Rome, anywhere.”

Ellison continued, “By using AC45s, we keep the costs to a manageable level, so we expect to have 12 teams entered in the 35th America’s Cup. The teams will be divided up into two divisions: Atlantic and Pacific. The Atlantic division will have teams from France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Sweden, and Switzerland. The Pacific Division will have teams from Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, and San Francisco, USA.”

Under Ellison’s plan, the top four finishers in the AC45 races during 2015 and 2016, two from the Atlantic group and two from the Pacific, would qualify to race in their division championships in the spring of 2017. The division championships would be contested in the new AC60s, a lot bigger than the AC45s and just as spectacular and fast as the AC72s, but not as expensive. (The AC72s were sailed in the 34th Cup.)

Ellison sees the Atlantic Division championship regatta being held in the Port of Rome and the Pacific Division championship in Shanghai. A couple of months later, the Atlantic and Pacific division winners will race their AC60s off Honolulu for the Louis Vuitton Cup. The Louis Vuitton winner would stay in Hawaii to race their AC60 against Oracle Team USA in the 35th America’s Cup. – Read on

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