America’s Cup: Why not Newport?

Russell Coutts, the CEO of America’s Cup champion Oracle Team USA, announced in January that officials were talking with other venues about hosting the 35th America’s Cup in 2017 because San Francisco officials hadn’t offered sufficient terms to automatically return.

Among the immediate candidates was Newport, RI, which had been closely considered for the 2013 event, and had been home to the event from 1930 to 1983. The venue had several attractive attributes: passionate fans, summer seabreeze, and dedicated facilities.

However, when Coutts announced last week to BBC News that the list had been narrowed to four cities, and Newport wasn’t one of them, we got curious what happened. Brad Read, Executive Director of Sail Newport, which coordinated the bid on behalf of the state and Sail Newport, Rhode Island’s Public Sailing Center, sheds light on situation.

“While disappointed, we remain optimistic to once again be a host site for an America’s Cup World Series event in 2016. We appreciate Russell Coutts and the rest of the America’s Cup team taking the time to evaluate our bid. However, the America’s Cup is a complex event, both on and off the water. Operating under a very tight time frame imposed by the AC Event Authority, we were not comfortable engaging commercial partners with the information that was available in the timeframe required.”

While the 35th America’s Cup match will be held elsewhere, Read is hopeful that Newport will remain in the running to host a preliminary America’s Cup World Series event as the teams prepare for the 35th America’s Cup. The extremely successful America’s Cup World Series event in June 2012 proved that Rhode Island, Newport, and Narragansett Bay can host a yachting event of the highest magnitude.

“With the support of the State of Rhode Island, Fort Adams State Park has been developed into a premiere shore side venue for grand-prix maritime competition,” said Read, noting that Rhode Island Sound and Narragansett Bay are famous around the world for their spectacular sailing conditions.

“Next spring we will host the only North American stopover of the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Race. This event will bring hundreds of sailors, team support staff, race officials and journalists to Newport, along with tens of thousands of sailing and non-sailing fans daily to our wonderful Fort Adams State Park. With the continued cooperation of the Governor’s office and the State Legislature – without which none of this would be possible – we believe we can continue to attract top sailing events, and their considerable economic impact, to the Ocean State.

“The America’s Cup is a part of Newport’s history and vice versa. We will remain in contact with ACEA in hopes that Newport will be considered for an America’s Cup World Series event and to keep open the possibility of hosting an America’s Cup match in the future.”

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