Exporting the America’s Cup

Published on October 15th, 2015

The finalists to host the 35th America’s Cup were Bermuda and San Diego. It was a curious path to this point, given the brilliance of San Francisco in 2013. But if San Francisco was out, nearly all bettors laid money on San Diego. Bermuda was a ploy propped up by the defender for leverage, they said. Even Bermuda thought this.

But these things are hard to predict. Christopher Clarey, in his report for The New York Times, details how Bermuda landed the America’s Cup. Here’s an excerpt…

If sailing were a major sport in the United States instead of a niche diversion, the decision by Russell Coutts, the former star helmsman who is now head of the America’s Cup event authority, and Oracle’s billionaire owner, Larry Ellison, to take the regatta outside the country might have caused a nationalistic uproar. Instead, the surprise move reverberated mainly inside yachting circles.

Malin Burnham, the American businessman who led San Diego’s unsuccessful bid, was outraged.

“It’s confidential, so I can’t relate the party’s name,” Burnham said. “But one of the America’s Cup backers who was a nationally known figure wrote Russell a note, and among other things this party said was that this was the first time the America’s Cup had been prostituted.”

Asked if he thought “prostituted” was too strong a term, Burnham answered: “Not at all.”

The America’s Cup is the oldest major international sporting event. Since it began in 1851, only one team had chosen to defend the trophy outside its home waters. That was the Swiss syndicate Alinghi, which chose Valencia, Spain, in 2007 but only because Switzerland is a landlocked Alpine nation with no seacoast. Oracle’s choice was different and entirely optional. – Full report

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