Archive | 33rd America’s Cup

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America’s Cup Protocol: What Oracle was criticizing and what it is implementing

Posted on 18 June 2014 by Valencia Sailing

Is it an irony that some of the most controversial aspects of the failed Protocol Alinghi and Ernesto Bertarelli tried to implement with the help of their sinister bedfellows of the Spanish Sailing Federation are now part of the America’s Cup Protocol? Is it a coincidence that Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts that so vehemently criticized Alinghi are taking a leaf or so out of their book?

We don’t think so because this is, after all, the America’s Cup. The Defender has one and only goal, to retain sailing’s most coveted trophy and will use all means within its power to do so. That also includes using the same tricks others tried to use to stack the cards in their favor, despite having criticized them so strongly for doing so. As long as there is a Challenger of Record that signs off the rules and a number of willing billionaires to play the game, the rest is superfluous.

Now that the 35th America’s Cup Protocol is a few weeks old, we thought it would be interesting to take a trip down memory lane and reproduce some of the statements that were made during the acrimonious litigation between Alinghi and Oracle that lasted nearly 950 days! This is by no means a justification of the shenanigans Alinghi and the Spanish Sailing Federation used through a sham yacht club to create a Protocol that had some irrefutably unacceptable clauses that gave unprecedented powers to America’s Cup Management (ACM), the organizers hired by Alinghi. ACM could at its sole discretion and for any reason they deemed fit, disqualify any of the competing teams. Let alone the fact that Pombo and Chirivella, respectively President and Vice-President, tried to masquerade a weekend Optimist training camp as the CNEV’s “annual regatta” or later staged a farcical Sailing Tour of Spain, in their second attempt to satisfy the requirements set by the Deed of Gift.

However, it does put things into perspective and shows that the America’s Cup is more than a simple sailing race. Excellent PR skills are as important as good design and sailing skills. It probably shows that Ellison didn’t really fight for the “rights” of the Challengers. Why on earth would anyone fight for their right of his competitors? Ellison and his team fought to win the 33rd America’s Cup and win they did.

The photos from the 33rd and 34th America’s Cups are courtesy of Juerg Kaufmann and Daniel Forster, through their Go4image website. Click here to access what is probably the richest online America’s Cup photo gallery, dating back to 1977!

The Defender racing in the Challenger Selection Series

The most radical change in this edition of the world’s oldest sports trophy is, undoubtedly, the participation of the Defender in the Challenger Selection Series. It is something Ernesto Bertarelli tried to introduce in the doomed Protocol of the 33rd America’s Cup and met with fierce criticism and resistance from both BMW Oracle and Mascalzone Latino, then its staunchest ally and future Challenger of Record.

Not only is it a departure from tradition, it also gives the Defender an undeniable advantage as they are able to gauge the challengers and race against the yachts that will, eventually, be raced in the actual America’s Cup Match. Whether it’s fair or not, isn’t something we will judge here, however it was a point that, repeatedly, Oracle pointed out as unfair.

The Challenger Selection Series will not even exist as such in 2017, at least up to the semifinals, but instead a certainly American-inspired terminology is being used. In 2015 and 2016, all teams will take part in the America’s Cup World Series, similarly to the previous edition. Racing will be held, again, in AC45’s but the overall score will do count towards the later stages as the top finishers carry points into the 2017 races. The idea is again for this circuit to travel around the world.

A new concept is introduced this time, the America’s Cup “Qualifiers” which in reality are nothing more than the usual Louis Vuitton Cup Round Robin, with the obvious exception that Oracle Team USA will take part. No quarter finals are scheduled in 2017 and the top four challengers will then race in the America’s Cup “Playoffs” which until a few weeks ago were commonly known as the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals and finals. All racing in 2017 will take place with the brand new AC62’s, so not only will the Defender take part up to the Challenger Selection semifinals they will be able to race against the one and only AC62 the challengers will have!

The trimaran that gave Larry Ellison the America’s Cup. Valencia, 10 February 2010. Photo copyright Kaufmann & Forster /

Here are just a few of the numerous statements Larry Ellison and the Oracle team published in 2007 and 2008, criticizing that same concept:

Larry Ellison in a letter to Ernesto Bertarelli, dated 17 November 2008, wrote: “You will say that, with only one boat per team, the Defender must be able to sail in the Challenger Selection Series. Fundamentally, we do not agree with this as there is a risk that the impact and suspense of the America’s Cup Match will be diluted. To have the Defender race in the Challenger Selection Series is a radical departure from the Cup’s long history and tradition and we need to be careful about making such changes.”

BMW Oracle press release, 16 September 2008: “Under Alinghi’s AC 33 protocol, the format and the schedule of all challenger racing is dictated by the defender for the first time in the history of the event. For the challengers in AC 33 it is therefore not “their” series any more as it was in all previous America’s Cups… However under the new protocol the defender’s ability to sail in the challengers’ series gives it very considerable new advantages. As they are already guaranteed a place in the America’s Cup, the defender can eliminate a team or influence the outcome of the series at no risk to themselves.

Before that, in October 2007, we had interviewed Alessandra Pandarese, legal counselor of Mascalzone Latino, and touched the issue of the alternative Protocol her team and BMW Oracle had prepared. Here’s our question and her answer:
Valencia Sailing: I also suppose that in your protocol the defender doesn’t have the right to take part in the Challenger Selection Series (CSS).
Alessandra Pandarese: That’s correct. Alinghi’s participation in the CSS is something we don’t accept.

It is true though that in the initial Protocol published by Alinghi, the Defender was to race up to the Challenger Selection finals, however we can’t understand why the “suspense” of the America’s Cup was in danger in 2007 and it won’t be from 2015 to 2017…

Who will take the America’s Cup from Larry Ellison? San Francisco, 25 September 2013. Photo copyright Daniel Forster /

Date and Venue of the 35th America’s Cup

When Alinghi first issued their 33rd America’s Cup Protocol the date and venue, in addition to the boat rule, were not known. It was speculated that Valencia would again be the venue, probably in 2009, but that wasn’t reflected in the Protocol.

When the Golden Gate Yacht Club presented their surprise challenge, on July 11th, 2007, they stated that, “Furthermore, the race Protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup agreed to by the challenging yacht club CNEV and the defending SNG are invalid because they fail to specify the rules for the next competition by omitting a specific regatta date, location and class of boat. Without the basic elements of regatta venue, date and boat design rules as required by the Deed of Gift, the Alinghi Protocol provides no opportunity for a fair and equitable competition…”

Once again, the venue and date of the next America’s Cup still haven’t been decided but that doesn’t seem to be a problem. Not only that, for the first time ever, the “Qualifiers” (the CSS round robin) and the “Playoffs” (the CSS semis and finals) could, eventually, be held in different locations and just the top four challengers will got to the Playoffs.

The venue and dates of the Playoffs and the America’s Cup Match will be made public by the end of 2014 while for the Qualifiers, the Defender will have another month and a half, until February 15th, 2015, before it announces the date and venue.

Here’s another quote from the letter Larry Ellison had sent Ernesto Bertarelli on 17 November 2008: “As to the date of the next conventional Cup, this also should be agreed among all the teams, Challengers and Defender, by mutual consent. We would propose 2010 to get things back on track even sooner than the 2011 date we have seen floated in recent media reports by your side – unless 2010 is too soon now to allow teams, especially new or smaller teams, to get up to speed. Regardless, this can be decided by getting the teams together around one table as soon as possible.”

As per the 35th America’s Cup Protocol the venues and dates are at the sole discretion of the newly-created “Commercial Commissioner”, who is appointed and, eventually, replaced at the discretion of ACEA, which in turn is appointed solely by Golden Gate Yacht Club.

In a statement on November 13th, 2008, Tom Ehman, spokesperson of Golden Gate Yacht Club had stated that “for the first time ever, the Challenger Selection Series is under the complete control of the defender.” Doesn’t the same hold true this time? For the first time since the existence of multiple challengers, just the top four challengers will actually get to race in the America’s Cup venue! Isn’t that lopsided?

Why did Larry Ellison want to grant challengers such extensive rights in 2008 and denies them in 2014? Because he’s now running the America’s Cup, not challenging for it, and that’s what sets the America’s Cup apart from other events.

The venue and dates of the 2017 America’s Cup are foggy. San Francisco, 25 September 2013. Photo copyright Daniel Forster /

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Spithill looks for ‘3-peat’ with ORACLE TEAM USA

Posted on 03 February 2014 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Oracle Team USA] Jimmy Spithill will return to ORACLE TEAM USA as the team re-builds with a focus on winning its third consecutive America’s Cup.

The youngest skipper to ever lead a team to victory in the competition for the oldest trophy in international sport, Spithill says the lure of working with team principal Larry Ellison and CEO Russell Coutts again was too strong to ignore.

“There were some very good offers out there, but at the end of the day, Russell and Larry, I wouldn’t be here without them…” Spithill said.

Spithill has made the America’s Cup his life’s work, beginning as a 20-year old skipper of the Young Australia team in the 1999/2000 Louis Vuitton Cup. He’s raced in every event since then, making steady progress towards the victory in 2010, when he became the youngest skipper to win the trophy.

Jimmy Spithill will try to make it three in a row for Oracle Team USA. Photo copyright Gilles Martin-Raget / ACEA

He followed that up with the successful defense last September and now he’s looking to make it three wins in a row as skipper of ORACLE TEAM USA.

“Being a part of the team when we first won in 2010 and then to be able to get back to back wins and now to have an opportunity at a third, it’s been an amazing ride. I feel fortunate to have been a part of it since day one and I’m looking forward to going at it again.”

ORACLE TEAM USA completed an amazing comeback to win the America’s Cup last year. Down 1-8 to a strong Emirates Team New Zealand, Spithill led his team to 8 consecutive wins to retain the Cup. He says the competitive challenge of the Cup and the winning atmosphere on the team, were also factors that pulled him back.

“This team is very competitive. The top guys are always surrounding themselves with very good people. There is no micromanaging on this team by Larry or Russell. They almost give you the burden of trust and that allows people to grow and learn and ultimately become better at what they do.”

Spithill sees the America’s Cup as the ultimate team challenge, a measuring stick for the individual in a team environment.

“It’s so difficult to pull it off. But when you go through it all and you do it as a team and you do pull it off, it’s just so rewarding,” he says. “As a person, you learn a lot about yourself through these campaigns. I enjoy that it’s a team environment, where you’re working towards a goal but learning about yourself and trying to get better each day. This is one of the ultimate tests, athletically, mentally and in team management, that you can find. It’s very addictive!”

As he looks ahead to the 35th America’s Cup, Spithill says he thinks ORACLE TEAM USA will once again be pushed to the limit as the American team attempts to win the Cup for the third consecutive time. And he can’t wait to take up the challenge.

“It’s going to be one hell of a battle, one hell of a fight,” he says. “I just can’t wait to get back out on the water and get racing. The prospect of going head to head with a few of these teams and the personalities involved… It’s hard to wait to be honest. I’m looking forward to training and to racing in the AC World Series again.”

Other members of the ORACLE TEAM USA crew will be revealed in the coming weeks.

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The America’s Cup lands in Valencia

Posted on 23 December 2011 by Valencia Sailing

It wasn’t scheduled to take place but it did. The cargo ship HR Constitution left San Diego a month ago carrying the entire America’s Cup circus, minus Oracle Racing, Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand, and headed to Naples, the next venue of the America’s Cup World Series. A number of teams, including Artemis Racing and Green Comm Racing, had expressed their interest in having a brief stopover in Valencia in order to offload their containers and boats and take advantage of the three-month hiatus by carrying out winter training sessions in the venue of the 32nd and 33rd America’s Cups.

It turned out that HR Constitution brought Valencia much more Christmas gifts than expected. The cargo ship arrived in Valencia on Tuesday, docked on Wednesday and offloaded a total of 104 containers, belonging to America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM) and six teams, Green Comm Racing, Artemis Racing, Team Korea, Aleph, Team Energy and China Team. Then on Thursday it was the turn of close to 30 boats, tenders and racing yachts to be offloaded.

There are now six AC45 yachts in Valencia, four of them with their platforms assembled (Green Comm Racing, Artemis, Team Korea and Aleph) while the remaining two (Energy and China Team) are in their respective containers.

In regards to the team schedules for the next three months, it is clear that Artemis and Green Comm will spend long hours off the Malvarosa beach, practicing with their AC45’s. It is the most obvious option since they both are “Valencian” in one way or another.

The Artemis Racing AC45 yacht being offloaded. Valencia, 22 December 2011. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis /

Artemis actually have two bases here. The first one belonged to Areva Challenge in the 32nd America’s Cup and is located right inside Port America’s Cup while the second one is in the small city of Sagunto, 20km to the north (click here for a view on Google maps). It was designed to become a mega-yacht boatyard and repair shop but the project never took off and its owners went bankrupt. Given the immensity and complex logistics and handling of an AC72 yacht and her wing, it is probably the ideal one with plenty of empty space around an immense hangar. In addition, unlike Valencia’s darsena, access to the Mediterranean is much simpler and direct.

The platform of the modified ORMA60 trimaran is currently sitting in front of the hangar, most probably waiting for her wing to arrive from the Future Fibres factory, a few kilometers inland. I guess it will not be long before we see her sailing off the Valencia coast.

The Green Comm Racing AC45 yacht being offloaded. Valencia, 22 December 2011. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis /

Green Comm Racing challenges for the 34th America’s Cup representing the Real Club Náutico Valencia, so it is the home team. After a well-deserved holiday break, the team will regroup during the second week of January in order to train for approximately two months on home waters. With the Naples event starting on April 7th, the entire America’s Cup “army” should leave Valencia no later than mid March. Regarding the other four teams in Valencia, has no information as to what plans they have or whether they will indeed train here.

As for the remaining three teams, Oracle Racing should have their four AC45 yachts in San Francisco while the Emirates Team New Zealand – Luna Rossa “joint venture” will be spending a couple of months in kiwi summer, training together and working on their AC72 sister yachts.

The Green Comm Racing, Team Korea and Aleph AC45 yachts, ready to be offloaded. Valencia, 22 December 2011. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis /

The Team Korea AC45 yacht being offloaded. Valencia, 22 December 2011. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis /

The Aleph AC45 yacht being offloaded. Valencia, 22 December 2011. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis /

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America’s Cup-winning trimaran USA 17 comes home to San Francisco

Posted on 28 February 2011 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: Oracle Racing] The ship carrying USA 17 passed underneath the Golden Gate Bridge at 0530 PST and berthed alongside San Francisco’s Pier 80 at 0650.

The timing of unloading the game-changing 115ft trimaran and its wingsail will be determined by prevailing wind conditions.  Both will be placed in short term storage in ORACLE Racing’s new base on Pier 80. Longer term, there are plans to put the yacht and her impressive 223-foot wingsail on public display.

The trimaran may not sail again, her place in history assured by two brief, glorious moments in February 2010. USA 17 has only ever contested two races in her life. She won both convincingly to win the oldest trophy in international sport from the Swiss Alinghi team.

In doing so, she propelled the America’s Cup into a new era of fast, exciting wingsailed multihull featuring shorter, simpler-to-understand racing and pioneering television graphics.

“When we stepped off the boat last year it was a really flat feeling that lasted several weeks,” commented skipper James Spithill. “We realized that we might not sail the boat again. There was such a buzz in sailing a machine so big and which pushed so many boundaries. But she was also ‘high-maintenance’ and right now our priority is the future, not the past.”

ORACLE Racing’s focus is on the next Cup. Scheduled for San Francisco in the summer of 2013, it will showcase similar wingsail multihull technology that made USA 17 so exciting.

The team’s new AC45 catamaran, used for the 2011 and 2012 America’s Cup World Series events, is nearing completion, while the design, sailing, engineering and boatbuilding teams are flat-out developing concepts for the team’s bigger AC72 catamaran for the defense of the America’s Cup.

USA 17’s arrival is her first visit to the city that ORACLE Racing calls home. She was launched in Anacortes, Wash., in August 2008. After initial testing there, she was moved to San Diego, Calif., for a further period of training before being shipped to Valencia for the 33rd America’s Cup.

Measuring more than 100 feet long and 90 feet wide and powered by a 20-storey tall wingsail, USA 17 is the fastest yacht to ever win the America’s Cup. It has been in storage in Valencia since winning the Cup on Feb. 14, 2010.

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Team Iberdrola to enter the 34th America’s Cup?

Posted on 13 February 2011 by Valencia Sailing

According to reliable information, high-level meetings have been held in Valencia between Iberdrola’s CEO and local authorities for the creation of Spanish challenger for the 34th America’s Cup.

It appears that last week, José Ignacio Sánchez Galán, CEO of Iberdrola, met with Rita Barberá, mayor of Valencia, and Francisco Camps, president of the Valencia region, in the Iberdrola base. If the head of the Spanish group, the world’s fourth largest utility, has a serious intention to back a Spanish syndicate it wouldn’t come as a surprise that he held talks with the city’s and region’s authorities. It would be absolutely logical for any serious Spanish effort to be based in Valencia.

However, what came as total surprise was the presence of Manuel Chirivella and Gerardo Pombo in those meetings! For anyone interested in the America’s Cup and living under a rock for the last 4 years, we remind that Chirivella and Pombo are, respectively, the former vice president and current president of the Spanish Sailing Federation and, most importantly, creators of the infamous Club Nautico Español de Vela (CNEV), the botched Challenger of Record for the 33rd America’s Cup.

If this information is confirmed, it’s beyond my understanding how Chirivella and Pombo are allowed to be even remotely involved with yet another Spanish America’s Cup campaign! I really hope they have learnt their lesson well and opt to represent a real yacht club. There are hundreds of them in Spain!

Desafío Español beats Emirates Team New Zealand in race 6 of the Louis Vuitton Cup semifinals. Valencia, 20 May 2007. Photo copyright Pierre Orphanidis /

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Vasco Vascotto on the America’s Cup: “I will tell you what everybody thinks but is afraid to say”

Posted on 09 February 2011 by Valencia Sailing

When Italy’s most famous sailor calls to talk about the America’s Cup, you answer the phone and write down his opinion. Vasco Vascotto wanted to express his “disappointment” with this edition of our sport’s pinnacle event, claiming he was expressing what “98% of sailors said in private but never voiced in public.” He strongly opposes the move to catamarans and sees it as a “move to penalize” strong teams such as Team New Zealand and Team Origin. Vasco, what is it you want to tell us? Why do you want to criticize the current America’s Cup?
Vasco Vascotto: You know, I wouldn’t say I ‘m angry but rather disappointed. It seems to me that the team that legitimately won the 33rd America’s Cup then didn’t act in a way to help the sport of sailing. Hasn’t the America’s Cup always been like that? At the end of the day the Defender does what is best for them.
Vasco Vascotto: Yes, I agree. If they want to do whatever they want, that’s fine with me but then they should expect criticism from the sailing world. I think my opinion is shared by 98% of the world’s sailors. Maybe the remaining 2% are happy with the changes but 98% of them strongly oppose them, as well as at least 80% of the journalists I talked to. Now, if those journalists don’t openly write their opinion because they might be afraid or feel under pressure, that’s another issue. I think I have never seen such level of discontent with the change to catamarans in the America’s Cup during my 40 years of sailing. This is a strong claim you make. Is it because you are angry you are out of the loop without a job in any of the teams?
Vasco Vascotto: Let me tell you something. I, personally, have never had so much work. I have never been busier in my life and I’m very happy with what I’m doing. I’m just telling you what the rest is afraid to say. This is what everybody discusses on the dock when we are in a regatta. This America’s Cup, sailed on catamarans, will have very few teams and will not even be a cheap one, as they claimed so many times. It won’t even be a fair America’s Cup because we already know who is going to win and this is quite evident. Oracle fought hard in the 33rd edition to have a fair regatta. That’s very good but I don’t think they are now acting in the same way. I’m not convinced there has been any discussion between them and the Challenger of Record and this comes from good friends I have inside the team. Given all those factors, I don’t think this America’s Cup will be a success and so far it has failed to live up to its promise. I don’t think they have waken up the interest for a new and different America’s Cup.

Back in 2008-9 the world financial crisis had already started but there were more entered teams in the 33rd Cup with the AC90 than now. The crisis was already there and in fact, we are now getting out of it. What lacks today is the enthusiasm we had then. Let alone the fact sailors are unhappy. In 2007 in Valencia we had a total of 1,000 people working in the teams while in this one we won’t have more than 100. If this is the result of one’s action that are supposed to promote the common good of the sport of sailing then something is wrong. This is my personal opinion, I don’t wish this edition of the Cup to fail, on the contrary, I wish enormous success. However, I think we’re heading the wrong way. The discontent of the sailors was seen in Key West when during the prize-giving ceremony a person went on stage and was booed. A few hours ago we had in Paris the official presentation of the sixth challenger, the second one from France. We still have another 50 days before the inscription period ends and there is talk of challengers from China, Korea or Australia. Don’t you think prospects aren’t as dark as you depict?
Vasco Vascotto: They might not be as dark but they certainly aren’t rosy, not even green or blue. Now if someone wants to contradict me, he will be doing like the ostriches that hide their head in the sand. The fact that a few days ago the Challenger of Record stated they couldn’t find the necessary funding means that what they are doing is not attractive to investors. If it were attractive, Mascalzone Latino, a team that has always found the money to take part in the previous editions, wouldn’t be in that situation now. They can’t find money even if they are the Challenger of Record and this gives the event a bad image. You can’t compare what was happening 5-6 years ago when it was raining money in Spain or Italy to the current situation.
Vasco Vascotto: No, you can’t but as I told you before, even in 2008-9 during the crisis we had 20 teams that had paid their inscription for the AC90’s. Do you think this new format that was supposed to create enthusiasm, has really brought enthusiasm? However, this time we have a team from Australia, two from France.
Vasco Vascotto: Are you sure they will go ahead? I repeat, I would be very happy if this turned out to be very successful. Forget my personal interest. I express the sentiment of 98% of the sailors and I’m not just sure about it, I’m absolutely sure. Everybody asks why we don’t have a Cup in monohulls, a conventional event that would have provided jobs to everybody. Everybody was ready to start. Team Origin were ready to start. Team New Zealand still has serious doubts about their future. It’s true, there are new teams and I hope they bring fresh air. I still haven’t seen them, I’m not sure they are there.

You mentioned the French. Today Team Energy stated they had a budget of 70 million euros. So much for cost reduction! So much for the fact that we are already in February and we don’t know where the next races will be. I personally don’t see any planning or seriousness so far. I see people working, I hope with enthusiasm but I’m convinced I can already tell you who will win, I can tell you that right now. Don’t forget that the previous Cup was blocked because it wasn’t fair. Tell me that: If Oracle were then Little Red Riding Hood and Alinghi were the bad wolf who is Little Red Riding Hood now because I only see bad wolves? Even if you might not agree with Oracle’s decision you have no alternative right now. Couldn’t this move be a positive one, longer term? Couldn’t you see it as a move from the bicycle to the motorcycle?
Vasco Vascotto: Saying that we move from the bicycle to the motorcycle is stating that we move from something antiquated to something modern. First of all, let me tell you that catamarans exist since 50, 70 years or even more. It wasn’t necessary to win the America’s Cup to claim you made a world revolution with the catamarans. The catamarans already existed. If the Cup existed for many years in a certain format that means there was some reason. For me, the best Cup ever was the one in 2007. I don’t remember it going through any moment of crisis. None. If you want to change the best Cup in history with something different, you have to aim at something certain. I now have a question for everybody: Do you think that this proposed revolution has brought any benefits? To me the answer seems absolutely clear. In addition, I’m not entirely convinced that a motorbike race is always more exciting than a bicycle race. Then in this Cup the teams will only have 11 sailors onboard while in 2007 you had 17 or 34, depending on the number of yachts each team had… … Sure but if you now have two boats can’t you have 22 sailors?
Vasco Vascotto: Maybe, but it will still be 22 versus the 34 you had last time. Now, if the budgets are established so that they reduce the human factor, I’m not sure they do the sport of sailing any good. In order to further promote the sport of sailing we should increase the number of sailors on the water, not always try to reduce it. Let’s add engines, let’s add remote controls so that we have virtual races on a computer with no need for sailors. In addition, they still have to prove that catamaran races are more exciting than monohull races. I really hope I’m not the only to talk that way. I’ll take my responsibility, I will tell it to you just as I will tell it to others, because it seems logical to me that some criticism must reach the ears of those in command.

I listened in silence to the criticisms advanced to Alinghi in the past and I listened in silence to all the statements from Oracle in the past. I was expecting from them something better, a little more seriousness, after all the fuss they made. Long live the MedCup circuit, this I can scream clearly, and the fact that we are in a crisis like this one and we have 6-7 new boats, is a clear sign that people want something serious on monohulls, how much people want monohulls and that the prepared teams want monohulls. This is obvious. The MedCup is not a circuit within the reach of everyone, especially in times of crisis like this. Yet clearly there is need for such a circuit.

What I can say is that until yesterday the favorite team to win the next America’s Cup was Team New Zealand and, in my opinion, these new rules were made almost entirely to penalize a team as strong as them. Prepared, serious, with very experienced sailors that have lost but also won the Cup. In doing so they have broken them up. Old sailors that had by now created a group, have been demobilized. Team New Zealand is now a team comprising of few people, assuming they go ahead. It has now lost all its strength. For Team Origin the same applies. It was a team ready to, probably, win the next Cup. By doing so they have broken them up as well, they took away their power. They made them weak just as they did with Team New Zealand. So, if this is the way to win the next America’s Cup, this is bullshit. If we do not like the catamaran, at least let us consider the aspect of sport. In the sport of sailing there were highly trained team, serious, that had made the right steps: they have been disassembled. They were told: “As of today we sail on catamarans. Since you are strong we do it with catamarans crewed by 11 sailors so that half the people you have hired stays at home.” These are strategies and things that harm the sport of sailing. What about the longer term, not just this Cup? Can’t you see Artemis becoming a strong team in 2017 or 2020?
Vasco Vascotto: Artemis will be strong in 2017? I’m happy for them. I only know that in 2011 the America’s Cup, instead of taking a step forward, stops. Everyone was happy when Oracle won against Alinghi in 2010. We said: “A new world starts, a new era. Finally.” Now I ask you a question: are you still so happy or do you have more doubts? I’m not the one that holds the sense of truth, but I say that the Cup in 2007 was the most beautiful in the history of sailing. Can anyone say otherwise? No, nobody and I am convinced about that. What the next Cup will need, thanks to you journalists and bloggers, is visibility. If you’re interviewing me now is thanks to the 2007 Cup, to that kind of America’s Cup, we have become famous and I am not convinced that those who come out of the next America’s Cup will have the same visibility. This is to let you know that we are taking a step back. And it shouldn’t be like that. Last but not least, let’s talk about you. What are your projects for this season?
Vasco Vascotto: I will be in the AUDI MedCup circuit with Matador, Alberto Roemmers’ TP52 yacht, that in April will present a new team, a new sponsor and above all a very serious yacht club. I have heard of the new AUDI Azzurra Sailing Team. Are you referring to that one?
Vasco Vascotto: Well, let’s wait the official presentation before making nay comment. However, I’m very happy because it’s a great opportunity for me to be able to race in the best-organized and professional circuit that exists right now. I will not miss other events such as the Primo Cup in Montecarlo, the Farr 40 Worlds in Sydney, the Melges 32 in Sydney. As you see, I have enough racing… So, again, it isn’t a personal feeling that drives you to make those statements because you joined the ranks of jobless sailors that can’t get a job in the Cup?
Vasco Vascotto: No, no and no. Look, I’ve got more than enough commitments. I’m fine and I am happy. Nevertheless, I would, probably, do the Cup with a catamaran, if the opportunity existed. But then again, for me it is a big step backwards. Even Team New Zealand will be forced to build catamarans, just like the other teams. But between being forced and being happy there is a big difference and it is something entirely different. I know many people will disagree with what I’m saying and what I said, but I will never become tired of repeating that 80% of journalists and 98% percent of sailors agree with me.

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Do yacht clubs really matter in the America’s Cup?

Posted on 12 December 2010 by Valencia Sailing

According to the Deed of Gift, the basic set of rules that govern the America’s Cup, “any organized yacht Club of a foreign country, incorporated, patented, or licensed by the legislature, admiralty or other executive department, having for its annual regatta an ocean water course on the sea, or on an arm of the sea, or one which combines both, shall always be entitled to the right of sailing a match for this Cup”. In the 32nd edition of the world’s oldest sailing event, a few exceptions were granted. The Spanish challenged through their national sailing federation, the Chinese through the newly-created Qingdao International yacht Club, while finally the Germans opted as well for a previously non-existent club.

Then in June 2007, Alinghi lowered the bar even further and together with their sinister bedfellows, the then President and Vice President of the Spanish Sailing Federation, Gerardo Pombo and Manuel Chirivella, created the Club Nautico Español de Vela (CNEV) in a week in order to have a hip-pocket challenger of record for the 33rd Cup. Although duly registered as a yacht club, the CNEV didn’t exist beyond paper. BMW Oracle filed a lawsuit and the rest is history.

Start of the first race of the 2010 Aleph Cup. La Grande Motte, 27 November 2010. Photo copyright Aleph Yacht Club

However, and despite its rhetoric during the long and tedious legal battle of the 33rd America’s Cup, the current Defending yacht club, Golden Gate Yacht Club, accepted and validated on Friday, December 10th, a formal challenge by a yacht club that is a barely a month old (officially registered on November 4th) and held the first edition of its annual regatta just two weeks ago, on November 27th.

We are referring to the newly-created Aleph Yacht Club that will be represented by Aleph Team France, the team headed by Bertrand Pacé and Alain Gautier. I think this is another proof that the yacht clubs are mere technicalities and the organizers focus instead on the credentials of the project rather than the underlying club and of course you could hardly get stronger credentials in France than the duo Pacé-Gautier. The yacht club, obviously, meets the criteria set by the Deed of Gift, but just the strict minimum.

The offices of Aleph Yacht Club are in Paris and their regatta was held at the premises of the Yacht Club de La Grande Motte (YCGM) in southern France. This is understandable since the French capital is not anywhere near an “ocean water course on the sea, or on an arm of the sea”. It’s puzzling though that not one single member of the club took part in their first ever annual regatta, as per the score table!!

Maybe that’s why the America’s Cup is still at the pinnacle of our sport and if they ditch that antiquated rule they might just become another circuit like the Volvo Ocean Race or the AUDI Medcup.

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Louis Vuitton Trophy regattas to end in 2010

Posted on 07 August 2010 by Valencia Sailing

[Source: World Sailing Teams Association] The World Sailing Teams Association, together with Louis Vuitton and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, will not develop the proposed Louis Vuitton Trophy Hong Kong any further.

The proposed world class sailing event, featuring some of the top racing teams in the world competing in Version 5 America’s Cup class boats, would have been scheduled for Victoria Harbour in January 2011. It has become clear however, that many of the teams involved are focusing their resources on their preparations for the 34th America’s Cup.

The Louis Vuitton Trophy regattas have provided sailing teams and their partners with high level racing whilst the 33rd America’s Cup held in Febuary 2010 was limited to one defender and one challenging team.

Now, the America’s Cup is back on track as a multi-team event with fair rules managed by a neutral authority and multiple America’s Cup Championship regattas culminating in the next Match. The new holder of the America’s Cup, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, will confirm the venue of the 34th America’s Cup, and timing (2014 or 2013) later this year.

A South East Asia venue is under consideration for one of these ACC regattas.

WSTA and the Louis Vuitton Trophy would like to thank both the Hong Kong government and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for the efforts they have made to date and the commitment they have shown in the preliminary planning stages for the event.

Building on the success of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series held in February 2009, the World Sailing Teams Association, in conjunction with Louis Vuitton, has already held three Louis Vuitton Trophy events in Nice, France, in Auckland, New Zealand and in La Maddalena, Italy.

The last regatta will be held in the United Arab Emirates in Dubai.

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