Louis Vuitton Expands Role in Next America’s Cup

Published on May 27th, 2015

by Christopher Clarey, NY Times
Louis Vuitton, long the commercial partner and namesake of the America’s Cup challenger series, has signed an agreement to expand its role in the next Cup in Bermuda in 2017.

The move, a surprise in some sailing circles, is a significant boost for the venerable event, which has lost commercial and sporting momentum in recent months because of challenger withdrawals and hotly disputed rule and design changes.

“There is some negativity in some quarters, but a lot of that negativity said we’d never sign Louis Vuitton again,” said Russell Coutts, the New Zealander and former star America’s Cup helmsman who is head of the America’s Cup Event Authority. “And a lot of that negativity said some other things that are frankly going to be proven wrong in the coming weeks as well.”

In the last edition of the America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013, the series of races sponsored by Louis Vuitton that determined the challenger was woefully short on competitors and interest.

“We had told them that they would need to come back to us with a compelling story this time and a compelling proposal so we didn’t have to face those issues again,” Michael Burke, chairman and chief executive of Louis Vuitton, part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, said in an interview on Tuesday.

The company has been a Cup sponsor since 1983, and for the first time will be the title sponsor of all stages of the competition. Louis Vuitton will assume a prominent role in all aspects of the event, ashore, on the water, in international television broadcasts and on online platforms.

The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series begins in Portsmouth, UK, from July 23rd to 26th 2015. The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers and Playoffs and the America’s Cup Match presented by Louis Vuitton will take place in Bermuda in June 2017.

Neither Burke nor Coutts would comment on the terms of the expanded agreement, which some in the sailing community maintain is for less than the 2013 agreement.

“For more rights?” Coutts said. “Well, obviously I can’t comment on the contract, but what I will say is each time people say something negative, frankly they are about to be proven wrong yet again.”

Excerpt from full report in New York Times.

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