Skip to main content

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)

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

Video: Celestial Navigation Pt3

. In episode three of the Practical Celestial Navigation course, Andy Howe examines the theory behind celestial navigation, the celestial triangle and the celestial sphere, and why it is important to have a basic understanding of each. Topics introduced include zenith position, ...read more

01-LEAD-6.-After-2-years-ashore,-Nada-headsto-the-water-(3)

Sailing in the Time of Covid

In mid-August 2019, my wife, Terrie, and I laid up our Malö 46, Nada, in Falmouth, England, and flew home to Maine. We booked flights back to the UK for May 2020, anticipating a summer of cruising the Atlantic coasts of France and Spain. Then Covid struck. Remember that first ...read more

Ulysse Nardin promo photo

The Ocean Race Names Official Timekeeper

With just under one year before the start of The 2022-23 Ocean Race, Swiss watch manufacturer Ulysse Nardin has been named the official timekeeper of the race. The Ocean Race, formerly known as the Volvo Ocean Race and before that the Whitbread Round the World Race, announced ...read more

Arthur Daniel_RORC Maserati - RORC Transatlantic 2022 - Jan 15th -Social Media-4

Fast Finishes for the RORC Leaders

Over the weekend, the first finishers of the 2022 RORC Transat made landfall in Grenada, led by Giovanni Soldini’s Multi70 Maserati, which was awarded line honors with a corrected time of six days, 18 hours and 51 minutes. Maserati finished ahead of Peter Cunningham’s MOD70 ...read more

Background-02

Notice to Mariners: A Blog from the SAIL Editors

As a teenager, I stumbled across a copy of Derek Lundy’s Godforsaken Sea in the back room of a used bookshop. I had never heard of the Vendée Globe and frankly found all the boat-speak in the first 50 pages a little difficult to get through. But Lundy’s storytelling and the draw ...read more

Screen-Shot-2022-01-13-at-9.26.59-AM2048x

VIDEO: Celestial Navigation Episode 2

Celestial navigation is an invaluable tool for all kinds of sailors. In episode two of the celestial navigation series, learn the basic elements of navigation and the sight reduction process using declination and GHA to determine the Geographic Position and navigate using a ...read more

Film-poster

Cruising: Year of the Sea Shanty

Along with other timeless pursuits, like baking sourdough and gardening, singing sea shanties surged back into popularity during the recent lockdown, thanks, in part, to the app TikTok and its “duet” feature, which allows singers from around the world create music together. By ...read more

Book-Cover-9780712353700

Book Review: Sailor Song

Sailor Song is the ultimate guide to the music of working sailors during the 18th and 19th centuries. The book includes lyrics and sheet music for 50 of the most beloved sea songs with fascinating historical background on the adjoining page. Chapter introductions provide ...read more