Editorial: Has the America's Cup lost its way? Welcome to Sail-World.com New Zealand for May 18, 2014
The America's Cup has taken another curious turn, with the news out late in the week that the America's Cup Event Authority had approached Bermuda to stage the 35th America's Cup.
That would move the regatta out of USA, and arguably sailed in Britain, as the tiny island is a British Overseas Territory.
The Bermuda bid is clearly aimed at the commercialisation of the America's Cup, with scant regard for the dictates of the Deed of Gift.
With the Defenders attempting to take over the conduct of the Challenger Selection Series (formerly the Louis Vuitton Cup), and run the series of supporting regattas, one wonders where the next strange turn will come.
Certainly there does not seem to be any hurry to get a Protocol or Venue named for the event, already eight months have passed. The Protocol for the 34th America's Cup was announced seven months after the conclusion of the 33rd Match - and that came off the back of a two and a half year Court case and the accompanying acrimony, which all but destroyed the event.
The Class rule for the new AC62 is in circulation. That is a good move. The new rule would seem to be a collaborative effort between the teams from the AC72 era, with the experiences being shared between two top design teams - who both got some things right and others wrong.
However without the Protocol, and more particularly without the Venue, the potential Challengers have no story to tell sponsors.
Both items should have been much easier after the success of the 34th America's Cup.
The Protocol had been worked over and changed regularly. It was a living document, and while some may be uncomfortable with that approach, it is consistent with other sports which deal with issues on the fly and quickly effect change.
The venue should have been a no-brainer off the back of the success of San Francisco. For sure there are local issues with authorities etc, but in its simplest form the America's Cup is just a yacht race. There were no indications from the Port that a permit would not be approved after the last event. And a coming ready or not approach is often a better way to deal with bureaucracy, than seeking permission.
After all, bureaucrats come and go, but the America's Cup has been around for three centuries.
Probably the most disconcerting issue is that going back to when the America's Cup was held in Auckland, the San Francisco based teams were the most vociferous as to how the Cup should be run and managed.
Ernesto Bertarelli may have rubbed people up the wrong way in 2007, but he was able to create an event that had preliminary regattas, while the Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup regattas produced a healthy surplus for the teams.
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Off the back of the 2007 regatta in Valencia, he was properly taken to task for trying to acquire all Challenger rights, and it was San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club, which became the champion of the challengers.
Many assumed after that legal era concluded that the Cup would be on track for some glorious years, with Golden Gate YC practicing what they had preached.
Bertarelli was portrayed as the villain of that America's Cup saga, but it takes two to tango.
Having taken the stance they had with the Swiss, Golden Gate YC had the responsibility to get the America's Cup show to a level where it should be. For sure, people were forgiving that the process would initially take some time, and cut Golden Gate some slack in the lead up to 2013.
Generally Golden Gate lived up to expectations, getting the formula right, particularly with taking the event to the general public and enthusing a new, bigger group of fans.
But what is happening now, with six good teams lined up to challenge, is inexcusable.
The delay over the venue announcement would seem to have no sound basis, save for local politics within San Francisco.
While Golden Gate play around trying to get a good formula better, they are burning off potential teams and sponsors. By the time the Defenders are ready to party, many of the Challengers will have died waiting.
The latest development in the search for an event venue is both perplexing and deeply concerning.
Good sailing! Richard Gladwell
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