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America's Cup- San Francisco puts its hand up for the 35th Match

by Sail-World on 24 Dec 2013
24/09/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America’s Cup - Final Match - Racing Day 14 ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget © http://photo.americascup.com/

America's Cup organisers have confirmed that they have received a letter from San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee, proposing venue sites within the City that would be used to host the next America’s Cup in 2017.

The letter reads, in part: 'The 34th America’s Cup generated hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for San Francisco, created thousands of jobs and showcased our spectacular waterfront, the beauty of San Francisco Bay and the sport of sailing to millions of spectators around the world.

'Therefore, it is with great enthusiasm, guided by the lessons learned and practical experience of the 34th America’s Cup, that we propose the venue sites for the 35th America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2017'

The City is suggesting the use of Piers 27-29 for the America’s Cup Park and Team Bases as well as Piers 19.5, 23, 31 and a section of Pier 80 for team use. A portion of Marina Green, including the Peninsula area, would be used for public viewing and bleachers. A significant change for this next America’ s Cup is shifting the team bases to the America’s Cup Park at Piers 27-29.

The teams, who found San Francisco Bay to be an ideal racing venue, welcomed the good news.

'As someone who is working hard to put together a new team, it’s critical for us to get the details of the next America’s Cup finalized quickly and the venue is a pillar for the whole event,' said Ben Ainslie, who was a critical member of the winning Oracle Team USA crew this past summer.

Ainslie, who is now working to build a new British challenge for this Cup, continued, 'Everyone saw what a great arena San Francisco Bay was for the racing this summer and I hope we’ll soon see an arrangement that brings us back to San Francisco as soon as possible.'

Iain Murray, who ran the racing program for the 34th America’s Cup as Regatta Director and is now the CEO of Team Australia, the Challenger of Record, agrees: 'We all saw what a fantastic venue San Francisco was for the racing this summer. The conditions, the natural amphitheater, and the enthusiasm of the people made for one of the best America’s Cups ever.'

Following the proposal from the Mayor, the City and the America’s Cup Event Authority will now work towards a comprehensive Host City agreement for the 35th America’s Cup, in San Francisco, in 2017. The four year gap between events, for a Defence, has only been done once since the modern era of the Cup restarted in 1956. That was in the mid-70's, causing many to question whether interest will be able to be sustained for that period.

The Protocol is expected to be announced sometime next year - originally February, but now spoken of as happening in March or April, or later. Both the head of America's Cup Regatta Management, Iain Murray, and the head of America's Cup Events Authority, Stephen Barclay, have departed the organisation, and as yet no new structure, or management appointments have been announced.

Effectively the offer by the City proposes that the (Challenger) teams cluster around the existing Media Centre (destined to become a cruise ship terminal under the original agreement for 2013) and the adjoining piers. Pier 80 used by Oracle Team USA and located well away from the central location is also included in the proposal.

Negotiations between the Defender and Challenger of Record, Hamilton Island Yacht Club are understood to be spirited, with the Australian club not being the easy beats that drafted the 34th Protocol. The contentious issues being that of genuine cost reduction - aside from fiddling with boat size; Nationality of sailing and other team members; and genuine spending restrictions.

One design is also being proposed as an option for some parts of the boats, however that takes the event away from the concept of the Deed of Gift, and also opens new avenues for cheating which marred the 2013 America's Cup and its preliminaries. Hearings are still continuing into the matter over the use of non-standard one design parts by Oracle Team USA's two AC45's, and another maintained by them for Ben Ainslie Racing, in four America's Cup World series regattas.

Interviewed for the New York Times, Team Australia CEO, Iain Murray commented ahead of the announcement:

With team budgets exceeding $100 million in the last Cup, cost-cutting remains the goal, and Murray said Coutts seemed genuinely committed to do so.

'It’s going to be real this time,' Murray said. 'This is about people, numbers of people and what people get paid.'

Tentative plans include reducing crews from 11 members to 9; reducing the size of the foiling catamarans from 72 feet to something in the low 60s, and approving the use of one-design wing sails and platforms, which would trim labor and development costs and leave the hulls and appendages as the primary innovation grounds.

'You won’t have 35 designers creating 200,000 hours of boat-building work,' Murray said. 'That’s where the money is.'

For the full interview click here
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