AC35: Onions and Self-interest

Follow the America’s Cup long enough and you will notice a cyclical pattern reminiscent of the Phoenix, the mythical bird reborn in flames. We saw this following the 26th America’s Cup in Perth (1987), we saw it following AC32 in Valencia (2007), and we are seeing it in the aftermath of AC34 in San Francisco (2013)
Author:
Publish date:
Bermuda’s Hamilton Harbour, site of the next America’s Cup

Bermuda’s Hamilton Harbour, site of the next America’s Cup

Follow the America’s Cup long enough and you will notice a cyclical pattern reminiscent of the Phoenix, the mythical bird reborn in flames. We saw this following the 26th America’s Cup in Perth (1987), we saw it following AC32 in Valencia (2007), and we are seeing it in the aftermath of AC34 in San Francisco (2013). Each of these was a near-perfect events, yet each was immediately followed by a plunge into the shadows.

To quote Dennis Conner, a man with intimate knowledge of the forces driving the Cup: “Bet on self-interest. It’s always running.”

In this case, self-interest has run from San Francisco to the tiny island nation of Bermuda, which will be hosting the 35th America’s Cup (as well as the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup) in June of 2017.

Following AC34, all signs were positive when Oracle Team USA—the hometown heroes who beat impossible odds to come from behind—entered negotiations with the city of San Francisco. But the wicket got sticky over the matter of some $11 million worth of municipal services, and Oracle started pondering other proposals. Given the importance of TV contracts, prime spectator territories (Europe and the U.S. East Coast), and Sir Ben Ainslie’s Royal Yacht Squadron-flagged BAR campaign, it quickly became obvious the Defender was wagering heavily on self-interest.

The America’s Cup has never been truly patriotic, and the word “fair” has never been a part of its lexicon, but this “dash to the Onion Patch” takes things to a subterranean level. Bermuda may have proffered trappings that San Francisco withheld, but Oracle Team USA still flies the burgee of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, as well as Old Glory. No one could ever accuse Oracle Team USA of being overly jingoistic. (Only one member of its winning AC34 crew was a full-blooded Yankee). But this is the first time a defending club with open-water access has opted to defend their prize overseas.

Then there’s the fact that Bermuda is hyper-exclusive, hyper-expensive and small (with limited accommodations, but plenty of superyacht dockage), and it becomes obvious that AC35 is aimed at the one-percent’s as opposed to the wider sailing community.

While there’s no fear of a Deed of Gift challenge this time (praise be!) many AC fans have become disgruntled, to say the least. One can only hope the fires of AC35 yield fertile ash for a glorious rebirth, once Gollum’s Ring has found a new bearer.

Photo courtesy of America’s Cup Event Authority

Related

shutterstock_1158262783

A Catamaran Takes on the American Great Loop

After completing the European Great Loop on our 1987 40ft Catalac catamaran, Angel Louise, my wife, Sue, and I sailed home to the States and spent two years sailing up and down East coast between Maine and Florida, like migratory waterfowl. Eventually, though, we decided to ...read more

01-LEAD_Alex_Irwin

Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image Competition

The Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image competition once again captures the excitement that is sailing from around the world An impressive 109 photographers from 25 countries took part in last year’s Mirabaud Yacht Racing Image 2018 competition. And while Portuguese photographer Ricarado ...read more

judges2-1024x319-0219-600x

2019 Pittman Innovation Awards

For the past couple of decades, the digital side of sailing has become increasingly important, to the point where it’s now almost inconceivable going offshore, even aboard a daysailer, without at least a modicum of electronics onboard—a trend that has been very much in evidence ...read more

Nathan-Bates-San-Diego,-CA

SAIL 2018: Reader's Photographs

Are you out there sailing, cruising and living the sailing life? If so, we’d love to see it. Send your sailing photos to sailmail@sailmagazine.com And don’t forget to sign up for our free eNewsletter. Check back for updates! I took this shot from Cooper Island Beach Club as my ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com Fall in line In the days before GPS, the best trick outside the book for finding a harbor in dense fog went like this: if it’s surrounded by rocks, forget it; if not, in you go, but never try to hit it ...read more

190115-Mark-Slats-Golden-Globe-Race2048x

Photo-Finish in the Golden Globe Race 2018

With less than 1,700 miles to go to the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, France, second-place Mark Slats of the Netherlands has cut another 393 miles out of the lead held by French sailor Jean-Luc Van Den Heede in the Golden Globe 2018 race.  Jean-Luc aboard the Rustler 36 Matmut ...read more

06-Heineken-1-R2018_1March_©LaurensMorel_LMA5965_p

Post-Irma Heineken Regatta

Even more than a year and half later, the scars from Hurricane Irma are still all too visible on the island of St. Maarten. But if Irma couldn’t prevent the famed Heineken from taking place in the winter of 2017-18, you can bet it’s not going to put a crimp in either the racing ...read more