What went right, What went wrong, What might have been

Published on January 15th, 2015

Now that the dust has settled on the venue choice for the 35th America’s Cup, CupInfo takes a look at San Diego’s runner up bid – what went right, what went wrong and what might have been…

John Laun, President and CEO of Sailing Events Association San Diego (SEA San Diego), was an integral part of San Diego’s consideration process. Laun, the owner/driver of the locally raced J120 caper as well as the recently-named Commodore of the San Diego Yacht Club, takes us through the process from his perspective.

It all started with a phone call a little over a year ago.

“Malin Burnham got a call from Russell Coutts asking if San Diego would like to be considered as a venue,” said Laun. “Russell had been working with San Francisco and they had gotten a preliminary response from the mayor. It wasn’t everything they had hoped for, so he started thinking about alternatives.”

San Diego has a rich America’s Cup history, having hosted successful defenses in 1988 and 1992, as well as the dominating Kiwi victory in 1995. More recently in 2011 Laun and SEA San Diego coordinated an RC44 regatta and an America’s Cup World Series event, so the machinery to pursue another America’s Cup was already in place. Coutts provided the San Diego contingent with an idea of the infrastructure requirements both on and off the water, and the San Diego team went to work.

Members of the task force included Laun; Chuck Nichols, Chairman of SEA San Diego; Tim Kelley, Executive VP and marine engineering expert; Sharon Cloward, President of the Port Tenants Association; Jeff Brown, President of JK3 Yachts; and Troy Sears, owner of Next Level Sailing.

“Troy’s son Tom had just graduated from USC’s architecture school, so he did the venue layout CAD work,” Laun said. “We had the bases fitting the original spec, which was intended for the defender and four challengers who would make it to the final venue. The schematic included superyacht berths, the AC Village and a concert venue, all in the Embarcadero area of downtown San Diego. We had room for bleachers, spectator areas, interactive areas, hospitality, and VIP hospitality on the flight deck of the USS Midway. It’s an amazing stadium; there would have been views of the action on the whole course from all over the harbor.

“Added to the original spec was a long-term base for the Oracle team to use for training in advance of the Cup. We then went to the Port Commissioners, to let them know we had scoped out the required spec and to find out if there was interest, and we got a very enthusiastic response.” – READ ON

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