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America's Cup: Spanish billions on offer to get third Cup hosting

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 18 Jun 08:18 PDT 18 June 2021
Valencia - Venue 2007 and 2010 America's Cups © ACM

The group behind Valencia's bid to host the 37th America's Cup believe they can access a €750 billion fund established by the European Union to assist member countries to recover from the economic effects of the COVID pandemic.

Consideration as to how Emirates Team New Zealand could leveraged as a demonstration of technology, including the use of artificial intelligence, composite design and engineering, use of hydrogen propulsion technology, adaption of foiling technology into other applications such as fast, wakeless ferries was missing from the NZ Government's funding offer for the next America's Cup. Also missing was the use of the team and the spectacular AC75 as a point of difference to drive a post-COVID "we're open for business" tourism drive.

Those themes are a key part of the Valencia bid to access the €750 billion Next Generation EU fund of which Spain has a €17 billion share.

"Spain is looking to stimulate the economic recovery by promoting its brand, Marca España, to reactivate the critical sectors as tourism (teams and families alone injected €100+ million in the economy during the 2007 edition)", says the group in a written media statement.

"Valencia's successful history in hosting the America's Cup (2007 and 2010, with the 2007 event arguably one of the most successful America's Cup ever), its existing, ready-for-use, tailored infrastructures made positioning Valencia's as potential host for the next event obvious," the statement continued.

Valencia was selected over Cascais, Portugal to host the 2007 America's Cup for the successful defence by the Swiss Alinghi team, who had uplifted the prestigious trophy from its case in the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in 2003. The selection of Valencia as the 2007 venue triggered a massive redevelopment of the harbour and waterfront area on a much bigger scale than has been undertaken in Auckland.

Those facilities were used by 11 challengers, in addition to the Swiss defender, for the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup followed by the America's Cup - which was a rematch, with the roles reversed, between the 2003 defender and challenger.

They were used again in 2010, when Valencia was ordered by the New York Supreme Court to be the venue for the Deed of Gift match between Larry Ellison's BMW Oracle Racing and Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinghi.

The process of obtaining the exclusive rights to candidate Valencia as host for the next America's Cup has been carried out by Francesco de Leo and Niccolò Porzio di Camporotondo (Kaufman & Partners/H2O Riders Science & Management) and Carlos de Beltran (Real Club Nautico de Valencia).

The Real Club Náutico de Valencia group felt they could not submit a credible proposal to the Spanish government to access the Next Generation EU fund while the 90-day negotiation was in progress.

"We made it clear that we were not going to interact until the 90-day period was up", a spokesman told Sail-World. "We have been lining up private investors to underwrite the financial needs of the rights holders, after that we are going to align the event with the Next Generation European Fund."

"Our workgroup is fully committed to bringing the America's Cup back to Valencia. Over the past months, work has been proceeding with investors and leading technology companies that share the vision of making the event in Valencia a new standard for promoting sustainability and the journey to meet the UN SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). Now we must double our efforts to succeed in this endeavour to promote Spain and Valencia as a world-class lab for innovation," said Francesco de Leo.

“Now is time for action. The America’s Cup is a special event. It can greatly benefit Spain and Valencia, particularly if a worthy legacy program is implemented. We acknowledge the other candidates but believe that local and national investors added to Valencia’s weather, welcoming culture, strong operational and cost-reduction assets will play a key role in convincing the rights holders,” said Porzio. A substantial document was lodged in February in support of the Host venue application.

Four or five venues are believed to have been shortlisted including Valencia, UK (Cowes), Ireland (Cork), the Middle East. It is believed that Auckland is still in the mix, even a front-runner, but is obviously in a more competitive situation against venues that have access to different sources of funds. The Next Generation EU Fund is part-loan part-grant, and must be used for specific or agreed projects.

A decree is still in place allowing America's Cup teams to fast-track their way through planning and similar legislation, as well as import of gear and equipment.

In addition to the areas developed for the 2007 America's Cup, new areas of flat paved space has been created, with power and services installed, which could hold up six teams if a multi-challenger event were held in Valencia. Many of the original teams sites around the Darcena are still available. "We could be ready to go in two weeks," the RCNV spokesman said. "A new commercial extension for the port of Valencia, has been made which will provide sheltered water in a SW breeze to provide better racing for the foiling AC75's."

Two AC teams have already made enquiries about training in Valencia.

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