Curious times for the America’s Cup

Published on April 2nd, 2015

As the oldest international sporting trophy, the America’s Cup is the grandest achievement in sailing. Its attraction has been in its difficulty, and in the people that sought to compete. To climb to the summit was a daunting task but with a clear purpose: to win.

However, now the pursuit of commercial attention is changing the event. Where before the mission of the defender was solely to defend, there is now interest to improve the event’s competitive nature. While the best team should still win, the pitch has leveled to improve the show.

Among the five challengers that has lost patience with the process is Team Luna Rossa Challenge which has now withdrawn from the 35th America’s Cup. Owned by Patrizio Bertelli, the team was created to compete for the 2000 America’s Cup, and has since been an active and honored challenger.

With three of the five challengers dependent on sponsor support, Bertelli was in the minority, as his personal wealth funded the team. His motivation was purely to win, whereas the commercial teams also sought to stay solvent.

Given the change this week to a smaller and more affordable boat for the 35th edition, approved by the majority of entered teams, it is understood that Bertelli has grown tired of the compromises other teams were willing to make.

Here is an excerpt from the statement released by Team Luna Rossa Challenge on Apr 2, 2015:
Team Luna Rossa indeed considers illegitimate the procedure adopted and founded on an evident abuse of process by surreptitious use of procedures to modify the Protocol in order to overturn the Class Rule, which instead requires the unanimity of the teams entered.

This is an attempt to introduce boats that are substantially monotypes and in total contrast with the ultra-centennial tradition of the America’s Cup, not to mention a two-month extension period to introduce further modifications to the rules, decided by the majority.

All of the above contributes to a lack of credibility and uncertain technical grounds for what should instead be the most sophisticated sailing competition in the world.

“In sports, as in life, one cannot always go for compromise, after compromise, after compromise,” states team owner Patrizio Bertelli. “Sometimes it is necessary to make decisions that are painful but must be clear cut, as only these can make everybody aware of the drifts of the system and therefore set the basis for the future: respect of legality and sportsmanship”.
Editor’s note: The AC World Series was to have four events in 2015, with the first event to be June 4-7 in Cagliari, Italy. That event is now cancelled.

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