Note: I would like to make a remark on this letter. It was sent to the challengers and organizers of the 33rd America’s Cup. The letter was not intended nor authorized for publication. It was not an open letter, but one sent to the specific participants to gather feedback and state a position and inadvertently made public.
Valencia Sailing received it from one of its New Zealand readers and did not check with China Team before publishing it, since I thought it was widely circulating.
[Source: China Team] Let me start by saying I would like to wish everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2009. China Team has started the year with planning for a number of events including our upcoming challenge for America’s Cup 33.
As we assess our 2009 and 2010 budget and operations, however, we are becoming increasingly concerned by the currently proposed time frames for a 2010 multi-challenger AC33, given the continued uncertainty surrounding the ongoing legal dispute between Oracle and Alinghi and the continued uncertainty about boat and venue.
As the Executive Director of the program I have an obligation to both our team owner and our sponsors to be fiscally responsible, particularly given the nature of today’s global economic climate. Like many of the teams we are reliant upon sponsorship and corporate partnerships to fund our program in addition to the money invested by our team owner. It is, of course, vitally important that we create and deliver real value to our partners in any program within which we participate. Determining that value with the current uncertainty and the proposed time frames is difficult. Gaining sponsor support, in the current time frame, before that uncertainty is settled is VERY difficult. Committing to funding boat design and build and team hires, without that sponsor support is therefore fiscally irresponsible.
We believe, therefore, that requiring teams to commit to such expenditure, prior to resolution of the court case in particular, but also prior to clarification of what boat we will be racing and where we will be racing, is unreasonable. Creating a time table that does not allow for our corporate partners to sufficiently plan and execute marketing initiatives, not only reduces their ability to maximize the opportunity, but will negatively impact the overall event experience for viewing audiences both at the event and through broadcast and published media.
We do not believe we are alone in coming to this conclusion and are therefore writing to you today to garner support for a multi-challenger AC33 no sooner than 2011. We would also like to propose that no team be required to incur expenditure until there is clarification and confirmation on who is hosting the event, where it is to be held, and what boats we are required to build. The current 2010 timeframe suits only those teams with large budgets, funded by team owners rather than sponsors, willing to take design and build risks in spite of the uncertainty. I am sure there are teams like that. I am equally sure there are not many.
We feel it is important that teams finding themselves in a similar situation begin to share a voice that represents not only the best interests of this group, but what we feel is also the best interests of the America’s Cup and we are asking for you to respond to us with your opinions.
Stuart S. James
China Team Sailing