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The Cost to Compete in the 34th America’s Cup

Published on September 26th, 2013

By Eric Sorensen
Jim Clark, co-founder of Netscape and Silicon Graphics, was in San Francisco as a spectator of the America’s Cup. Clark has been successfully campaigning his J Boat Hanuman, but has no interest in joining the modern era of the event.

“I’ve got enough money,” said Clark, whose wealth is estimated at $1.35 billion. “But I’m not going to blow $200 million to get my name put on a trophy. If it was in the 50-75 [million-dollar] range and I could put a good team together I would give it some thought, but at the moment I’m not contemplating anything like that.”

With only three challengers willing to compete this summer, Clark was not alone in his contempt for the cost. So what did it cost to compete in the 34th America’s Cup? The following numbers were gathered from the Event Media Center, and while they are only estimates, they are staggering …

Luna Rossa: This Italian challenger spent the least, using a one boat program, with Chris Draper as their helm and Max Sirena as skipper. They purchased the design package from ETNZ from their first boat and in total put out between $80-$90 million for their efforts, advancing to the Louis Vuitton Cup finals before losing to New Zealand. It is estimated that $10-20 million came from Patrizio Bertelli personally with the rest from Prada as their main sponsor.

Emirates Team New Zealand: They are the second least expensive program, spending $100 million US on their challenge. The source of funds was divided between private donations, government funding, and sponsors – with Air Emirates and JP Morgan leading the way.

Artemis Racing: Torbjörn Törnqvist personally funded this $140,000,000 program as Challenger of Record. One has to admire the program he attempted, but not much went right for this team, which included the tragic loss of life. They sailed only four races before being eliminated in the Louis Vuitton Cup Semi-Finals.

Oracle Team USA: Without a doubt, Larry Ellison’s pocket book was open for this defense. He sought to put on an event that envisioned many boats but the costs spiraled too high. It is estimated that the team spent $250-$300 million for the defense of the Cup and another $200 million for the event, ACTV and other sundry items. With their two-boat program, the 130 member team was both deep in sailing and support talent and the largest in numbers. The source for funds is not clear but it is believed that Ellison self-funded the bulk of the campaign.

Speaking with Bruno Trouble, overseer of the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger series, he cited four areas the new defender must consider to improve and secure the future of the event…

1. Bring back friendship amongst the competitors.
2. Have a nationality rule of 33-50% of the crew with passports of the nation they represent and have held for 5 years.
3. Control Costs: Have a budget range of $25 to $50 million in which to stage a competitive campaign.
4. Format: Fleet racing would require a change in the Deed of Gift and legal wrangling, but it is popular for spectators and offer more exposure for sponsors. Fleet racing has never been the format except for the 1851 event which was the basis for today’s America’s Cup.

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