Four America’s Cup challengers from European yacht clubs met in London Monday, July 28 with Russell Coutts, CEO of Oracle Team USA. Coutts is also CEO of America’s Cup Event Authority, the company organizing the America’s Cup on behalf of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club. The report from the meeting summarized six key ideas:
• Regular meetings encompassing all teams in order to work collectively to maximize the potential of both this America’s Cup and future editions.
• Each team plan to host an America’s Cup World Series event in either their own country, or a country of their choice.
• All the teams present agreed that they would commit – if they were to win the Cup in 2017 – to continue with the America’s Cup World Series.
• A commitment to reduce further the costs for both this Cup and future editions.
• Support for the choice of host venue, be it Bermuda or San Diego.
• A working group to agree on the date and event structure of the 36th America’s Cup, to lay the foundations for a sustainable event.
No mention was made of the unpopular and costly “split venue” called for in the Protocol which would begin the challenger selection series in a different location from the America’s Cup Match.
At a meeting in Los Angeles two weeks ago, challengers said it was a “universal concern” that Bermuda “is not a great venue. “There wasn’t a rousing endorsement for San Diego, either, even though the America’s Cup would be sailed on the bay rather than miles out to sea as it was when the Southern California port hosted sailing’s biggest regatta in 1988, 1992 and 1995.
The challengers “received good briefings on the two venues including wind speeds, which was positive,” British Olympic star Ben Ainslie said in an email to The Associated Press.
Notable by their absence at the meeting in London was Team New Zealand. Coutts said that after he heard from another team the Kiwis didn’t want to want to use the published Protocol as the basis for discussion , “I rang them up and said, ‘It’s best that you not come.’ ”
Kevin Shoebridge represented Emirates Team New Zealand at a challenger meeting in Los Angeles called by the then lead challenger, Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club, which a few days later announced its intention to withdraw from the next cup in 2017. “We were disinvited,” said a senior observer. None of the other teams wanted to comment on the Kiwi exclusion. A spokesman for the America’s Cup Event Authority, also run by Coutts, said: “I can’t help you.” Emirates Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton said in an email to the AP that it was “not worth getting into this from our side. It will all play out in due course.”