America’s Cup Needs Evolution, Not Revolution

Published on September 2nd, 2013

If the Challenger for the 34th America’s Cup walks away with the Auld Mug, look for the next edition to see a return to past values. Here is an excerpt from SF Chronicle article by Tom Fitzgerald…

Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton doesn’t mince words about this America’s Cup regatta. Once the 72-foot catamarans have finished sailing here, he said, “they’ll never see the light of day. They’re too expensive, too complicated.”

He says Russell Coutts, chief executive of Oracle Team USA, had “a fundamentally flawed” vision when he, with owner Larry Ellison’s blessing, picked AC72s as the regatta’s boat type.

“That’s only one piece of it,” Dalton said. “But he had the conviction to follow it through. We’ve all been picking up the pieces ever since.”

The choice of 72s “came at a massive financial price,” he said. Ellison backed his team with a mountain of cash. “Good on Larry for doing that,” Dalton said, “but it’s not sustainable in any shape or form.”

If the Kiwis take back the Cup, they might opt for smaller catamarans in the next cycle, he said. Or maybe they’d go back to monohulls. In any case, the Cup would emerge from what he calls “a period of dictatorship” under Coutts and Ellison.

“We’d go into a period of consultation to find out what the world wants,” he said.

The relationship between Dalton and Coutts is as rocky as Cape Horn. The two sailing heavyweights – from the same island country – have never had a conversation, according to Dalton. They sparred verbally at a charity auction in Auckland, New Zealand, this year, he said. That’s been it for personal contact.

Dalton wouldn’t call it a feud exactly. “It’s more that we disagree fundamentally on what the America’s Cup is,” he said. “He has a belief – and I think it’s Larry’s belief, too – that it’s something that needs to be transformed for the youth of today, no matter what that cost is to the past. You can understand how Larry thinks that, coming from the tech industry. – Read on

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