Russell Coutts puts pressure on San Francisco with statement America’s Cup could go to Hawaii

Posted on 27 January 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Should we consider Saturday’s article on the Associated Press website, widely reproduced throughout the world, as an indication negotiations between the City of San Francisco and Oracle Team USA have reached a point that the America’s Cup holders don’t find beneficial enough? Do they need an extra push through a well-timed article by putting pressure on the city?

Oracle Team USA received Mayor Ed Lee’s preliminary proposal for hosting the next America’s Cup on December 22nd and since then, apparently, the two parties have been in negotiations in order to iron out a deal that would allow the world’s oldest sports trophy to be held again in San Francisco. Russell Coutts, two weeks before that date, stated that San Francisco was the “clear frontrunner” among the prospective bidders to host the event.

Although there has never been any official statement, it was believed that Hawaii was also in the mix, given the fact Larry Ellison bought Lanai island in 2012. Since Ellison owns the trophy why couldn’t he also own the venue? Up until Saturday there weren’t any other indications, or at least we weren’t aware of them, that other possible venues were under consideration. According to Bernie Wilson’s article, San Diego surfaced as a serious alternative as well, and the America’s Cup could be back there in 2017, following a 22-year absence.

Russell Coutts mentions another “non-US port” that is considered as a potential venue, without naming it.

If one is to believe Russell Coutts, this photo will not be repeated in the future. San Francisco, 26 June 2013. Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget / America’s Cup

Does that sound familiar? Well, it does because it is exactly the same strategy used by, then, BMW Oracle Racing in 2010 during their negotiations with San Francisco. The deadline set back then was December 31st, 2010 and even ten days before that, Stephen Barclay, COO of BMW Oracle Racing, had sent Rhode Island officials a letter indicating his team was “very serious” in its intent to move forward with that state in order to hold the 34th America’s Cup in Newport.

A few weeks earlier, Russell Coutts was claiming that “strong expressions of interest from four European countries are also being studied by the American Defender. GGYC/BOR will announce a final decision on the venue, along with the date and other details of the next America’s Cup by the end of this year.” There were reports of Valencia being considered as a venue, even if the city had denied it had any intention to bid, given its dire financial situation. Although not officially mentioned in a press release or statement, BMW Oracle was insinuating there was a mysterious Italian city that was offering €500 million for the right to host the America’s Cup in 2013 (yeah, sure…).

As it turned out, these “statements” were well-orchestrated, meant to put pressure on San Francisco officials. Of course, in all negotiations both parties must hold an alternative option in case everything goes awry but it’s difficult to believe, Coutts is seriously considering the option of holding the next Cup in the middle of nowhere or a mysterious “non-US” port, somewhere on this planet.

San Francisco proved to be a great venue despite the fact initial expectations were light years away from reality. It is understandable city officials could be less than enthusiastic about a deal with Oracle Team as the promises made three years ago about the event were in the realm of science fiction. No less than 12 challengers and three defense candidates were expected while Mayor Lee was claiming that he was anticipating 500,000 spectators A DAY during peak days (!!!). In reality, there were three quarters of a million spectators throughout the duration of the entire event!

3 Comments For This Post

  1. John Says:

    Riiiiight, I’m sure San Fransisco are quaking in their boots… The AC going to Hawaii… has Wussell smoked too many banana leaves? This is typical of when he is left in charge of the show, it all looks rushed, poorly thought our and reactionary. Hawaii, San Diego? yeah right….

  2. Adam-12 Says:

    Rusty is gonna do his best to make LE happy and that mean´s generating some INCOME which mean´s finding a user friendly community with lot´s of extra Cash and people who basically don´t know who LE is and like the Disney Channel , it´s amazing that they stay on this Catamaran trip and if it was clear cut that they would have had TP 65´s they would have 20 team´s or more but no we all have to wait until they unveil the new super duper magic Cat Boat , they still don´t have a new boat or a plan , COME ON PEOPLE wake up , this thing is a Joke and a not very funny one they have taken a great regatta the AMERICAS CUP and turned it into a late night High Stake´s Poker Game where in the end the Poor Kid with big Ball´s think´s he can win against the rich guy is suckered into convincing all his friend´s to back him , until he fall´s down HARD and goes home the local hero of his little town .
    Love , 12

  3. Peter Says:

    Adam 12 – what is the motivation for the defender to have 20 teams challenging?! – The idea is to DEFEND the cup, not lose it. Why increase the odds of losing by adding more challengers? Study the history of the America’s Cup and you will learn that the defender has always stacked the deck in some way.

    And yes, long before Oracle sent little guy New Zealand packing, the New York Yacht Club did the same thing to teams from England, Ireland, France, Australia, etc. It’s the nature of this particular game. There are plenty of other sailing events for you to enjoy that you might perceive as more fair, with boats you are comfortable with. Go watch those and leave the America’s Cup to those of us who enjoy billionaires sticking it to each other and playing with outrageous toys. Frankly, I love the format, the boats and the venue…



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