America’s Cup? I Have Questions

11 Mar

By Kimball Livingston Posted March 11, 2014

TBATM_cover_largeIn her just-released paperback update of The Billionaire and the Mechanic, Julian Guthrie set tongues to wagging, quoting Larry Ellison on Honolulu’s wonderful attractions for an America’s Cup.

Yep, Dennis and Malin wanted to take the Cup there, back in the day, when 12-Pounders would have made a brave sight pounding upwind in the Molokai Channel. AC60-65 catamarans on foils? I don’t think so. Elsewhere off Honolulu? I’ll believe it when I see it. But it gets stranger when you look beyond location, location, location.

Julian goes on to describe Ellison’s plan for two seasons of international racing in AC45s, 2015-2016, with a Pacific division and an Atlantic division qualifying four teams for sailoffs in “AC60s” in the spring of 2017.

So, if I want to win the America’s Cup, at what point do I invest in designing and building a custom, foil-born, wing-powered catamaran for an event in which I may not qualify to sail?

How do I explain that in the sponsorship pitch?

And, unless Ellison intends to throw Oracle Racing into the mix of hopeful qualifiers—waiving the Defender’s right to automatically defend the 35th America’s Cup, and I doubledog guarantee you that’s not the intent—doesn’t the participation of the Defender in those early races risk biasing the outcome?

Perhaps even determining part of the outcome?

Wasn’t there a Swiss outfit that ran afoul of public opinion, a while back, with a scheme that shared certain aspects?

Unless Oracle Racing stands down from AC45 competition . . .

In her piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, Guthrie writes, “Ellison sees the Atlantic Division championship regatta being held in the Port of Rome and the Pacific Division championship in Shanghai. A couple of months later, the Atlantic and Pacific division winners will race their AC60s off Honolulu for the Louis Vuitton Cup. The Louis Vuitton winner would stay in Hawaii to race their AC60 against Oracle Team USA in the 35th America’s Cup.

My District 2 San Francisco Supervisor Mark Farrell is giving San Francisco a “fifty-five percent” shot at providing the next venue. What I know is, you can’t duplicate AC34 anyplace else. And the America’s Cup has been a problem for everyone who ever dreamed of reinventing it as the capper to a circuit. Love it or hate it, there’s legacy, and no one yet has shown us how to clip that ball and chain.

So, good luck with that.

This article was syndicated from BLUE PLANET TIMES


  1. Matthew

    America’s Cup is a salt water event requiring sufficient wind. It would be nice to see the elimination of the foils and a return to actual sailing on the water. As for the Great Lakes…love them, sailed them as well as both coasts but the lakes are no ocean, especially the Atlantic from Maine to Maryland.

  2. David Haines

    Good points all above. An argument could be made
    for the optional venues cited & it would be a shame
    not to leverage the fabulous experience San Francisco
    Bay’s natural amphitheatre, stadium course provided
    with the genius of Stan Honey capturing it all. I’m speaking
    Of the Louis Vuitton Cup leading up to the Finals.
    2016 preliminaries, qualifying races off Hawaii or Shanghai, Pacific Division, with Valencia or Naples perhaps for Atlantic
    Division qualifiers would broaden scope, awareness, perceptions
    IF Larry enables for country-competitive entries by
    Lowering the bar to the AC45’s, foils add the spice.
    This drops entry costs by more than 50% and renders
    a true international competition! The Jr Worlds racing on
    borrowed 45’s with 8+ countries in Fleet Racing format?
    Priceless & drew big crowds. SF can make this profitable,
    instead of losing >$110mm w/ experience. As a Volunteer
    Marshall on the Water I can tell you we loved the exp & are
    Eager to throw our boats back in the mix! Team USA…..epic
    All-time come-from-behind thriller one more time SVP!!

  3. Jhildy

    The AC cannot be held on inland lakes. The AC rules dictate it be held on an “arm of the sea”. The original writers of the rules specifically wanted to limit competition from the inland lakes. It is and always will be a salt water event.

  4. Bob Beck

    Having lived and sailed on both coasts and then living in Lake Forest, IL on lake Michigan I must add to that dialogue I have never seen a fresh water lake be so challenging. Waves like the Pacific. Storms like the Atlantic. The good news…..when we came in we didn’t have to do a wash down…..what? Yes, fresh water! No salt. On the other hand, I think the venue in Sf for viewing has been the best yet. Perth the hardest.

  5. chip

    The only problem IS HAWAII!!! Ive lived here for 14 years this state does not promote boating. This has been one of our reasons for relocation. This place should be a mecca for boating…in the words of Ron White…you cant’t fix stupid!
    It’s a shame

  6. Barney Mathie

    It’s about time the 45’s try Lake Michigan. See if they are able to handle the Mid-West winds and racing just off Chicago’s lakefront would attract thousands of viewers. Give it some serious thought.

  7. Tombo Doggy

    Most important is good wind. SF is OK, Hawaii would be better. When the trades are in there is no better spot. The upper limits of the AC60 may need shorter sticks.

  8. Dale Counihan

    I second Tom. Lake Michigan can be as or more challenging than the oceans with its winds and waves. Plus there’s tens of thousands of sailors with easy access to Lake Michigan. Maybe Buddy Melges (America3, ILYA, Olympic champ) will show up.

  9. Rick Robinson

    What? Whatever happened to the promotion of the San Francisco Bay being a natural Amphitheatre for Cup Competition. How can they even consider walking away from the general public support they saw in the last cup competition?…besides, I think the cup should be raced in the 45s without the foils…but then I really enjoy rough and tumble competition and the 45s seem to have a better capability for rougher weather than the larger boats. BRING BACK FLEET RACING TO THE LOUIS VUITTON!!!!

  10. Tom Gorey

    How about having a round of the AC45’s in the summer on lake Michigan in Chicago. It would really build support for AC in the middle of the country. Also Larry Ellison is from south side of Chicago.

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