34th America’s Cup gauntlet thrown down
The Golden Gate Yacht Club of the United States yesterday announced that the 34th edition of the America's Cup will be held in 2013 using wingsail catamarans.
The yacht club, the home representative of America's Cup holders BMW Oracle, also announced a raft of other innovations and specifications ahead of the next event.
The America's Cup, one of the oldest contests in sport, is unique in that the winner effectively wins ownership of the competition and has the right to define almost all elements of the next edition.
Aside from the year and the yacht-class specification (AC72 wingsail catamarans - significantly, multihull boats), the Golden Gate Yacht Club, based in San Francisco, also announced that a new annual world series would be launched next year.
Other details include the setting up of a new Youth America's Cup from 2012; independent race management and a fully empowered international jury in an effort to avoid the sort of legal wrangling that has marred the competition in recent years; a host of commercial reforms as well as several innovations, including a shorter race-format and minimized race delays, designed to enhance media coverage of the event.
"This new format and boat will put the America's Cup back at the pinnacle of our sport," said Russell Coutts, chief executive of BMW Oracle.
"These changes will give equal opportunity to competitors and long-term economic stability to all teams and all commercial partners," added Coutts at a press conference in Valencia. The global series, in particular, has been conceived as a way of assisting challenging teams with both their commercial and sporting preparations, with sponsors likely to be more attracted to a Grand Prix-style series than simply a one-off event.
"We promised fairness and innovation and this is what we've delivered."
The announcement, however, was not greeted with unmitigated enthusiasm by some of the potential challengers for the next edition of the Cup. Last month, Grant Simmer, chief executive of Team Origin, the British entry for the competition, told SportsPro that a 2014 race in monohull boats would suit the majority of the entrants.
"Oracle are two years ahead in [multihull] technology," Simmer said then, "so the rest of us would have no chance. There's no challenger that wants to do multihulls."
Sir Keith Mills, owner of Team Origin, greeted yesterday's announcement with caution. "Russell Coutts and [BMW Oracle owner] Larry Ellison promised challengers a level playing field," said Mills, "giving teams a fair chance of winning; neutral event management and cost containment.
"We now need to study the new Protocol document and determine whether it matches these promises. Team Origin will only challenge if the 34th America's Cup is fair and neutrally managed."
The venue for the 2013 America's Cup won't be announced until the later this year, with San Francisco, Valencia and Rome considered the leading contenders.