As the world has sat poised, waiting, waiting, waiting for the Defender, the Golden Gate Yacht Club and BMW/Oracle Racing to announce the location of AC34, something else happened.
BMW left the party.
Yes, you read that correctly: BMW left the party.
On Thursday, BMW/Oracle announced on their website that the German luxury-car manufacturer will be leaving the Cup campaign as of year’s end (that would be a week from today), leaving Oracle to defend the Cup alone. BMW/Oracle’s press release: 'This is by mutual agreement of both partners. Both parties set ambitious goals and achieved the ultimate objective: winning the America's Cup.'
Says Russell Coutts, CEO of BMW/Oracle: 'The America’s Cup combines a technological challenge with a sporting one and success is measured by the result on the race course. In that sense, both the team and BMW are proud that our collaboration resulted in victory.'
And from a BMW statement: 'On the design and engineering front, BMW engineers set new benchmarks in terms of intelligent lightweight design,' said Ralf Hussmann, general manager of BMW's sports marketing and brand cooperation. 'In winning the 33rd America's Cup, we achieved all of our ambitious goals. We will continue to be involved in the sport on a national level.'
Hmmm…. Call me a naysayer, but things are no longer looking so rosy for the winner of AC33. What could of—and should of—been a glorious ' new homecoming' to San Francisco has instead turned into a last-minute effort to drum up a counter offer to the SF bid (according to trusted sources, sweeteners are being added as we speak), so that the Defender doesn’t find itself open to lawsuit…a position that Mr. Ellison knows only too well.
Like many sailors out there, I want to believe. I want believe
that the Defender has the best interests of the America’s Cup, and of the sailing community, first and foremost in mind during this agonizing period. But from my not-so-lofty perch, AC34 is starting to smack of another thing that Uncle Larry knows only too well: business and money.
While time is slowly draining from the hourglass, there is still time enough let for the Defender to sober up and realize that an SF AC34—or at least a fair, transparent AC34— is the elixir that the Cup needs to regain its historical luster.
And in other Cup news, a syndicate of Australians, led by Ludde Ingvall, skipper of the YuuZoo Big Boat Racing Team, has announced their intention to challenge for the next Cup…wherever that may take place. 'Excellence in youth sailing is my objective,' said Ingvall. 'We want to bring home the many talented Australians sailing for other countries and give them a chance to compete for their country. We want to create a legacy for future generations, something to aspire to, a reason for any Australian youngster to get out there and take part in our wonderful sport of sailing at all levels.' Check out this issue for more information.
Meanwhile, in sailing circles that are actually positive and actually involve racing sailboats, the infamous Sydney-Hobart Race kicks off on Boxing Day, December 26. Right now, hordes of crews are preparing their boats and ticking off last-minute details before this classic Australian grudge match. Be sure to check out the great Sydney-Hobart coverage in the Sail-World Sydney Hobart issues, which will come out daily from the race start.
May the four winds blow you safely home,