Tuesday, January 8, 2013
AC officials drop plans for New York regatta
SAN DIEGO -- America's Cup officials have dropped plans for a warmup regatta on the Hudson River in New York in the spring so teams and organizers can focus on sailing's marquee race this summer on San Francisco Bay.
That decision leaves one final America's Cup World Series regatta in 45-foot, wing-sailed catamarans, in Naples, Italy, April 16-21. A regatta planned for Venice, Italy, was scrapped due to a contractual dispute that's headed for court later this month.
A New York regatta would have run from May 28-June 2. It was never publicly announced, but a spot on the racing schedule was held open for those dates.
An ACWS regatta on the Hudson River would have been the first America's Cup sailing off New York in 93 years.
America's Cup Event Authority CEO Stephen Barclay said Tuesday that besides financial hurdles, a New York regatta would have been too close to the July 4 start of the Louis Vuitton Cup for foreign challengers. The Louis Vuitton Cup winner will face defending champion Oracle Team USA in the 34th America's Cup beginning Sept. 7.
The Louis Vuitton Cup and the America's Cup match will be sailed in 72-foot catamarans, which are proving to be difficult to handle. Oracle capsized its first 72-foot boat on San Francisco Bay on Oct. 16, destroying its 131-foot wing sail and damaging the hulls. A new wing sail arrived in Oakland on Tuesday on a container ship from New Zealand, and Oracle is expected to be sailing again by early next month.
In another setback, Oracle was recently found guilty of spying on Italy's Luna Rossa Challenge while it trained in New Zealand. Besides a small fine, Oracle was docked the final five days of the second testing period in late April.
With the focus shifting to the 72-foot cats, Barclay said some syndicates were considering not sending their top crews to any remaining ACWS regattas, and teams that have entered two boats in past regattas planned to enter only one.
He said there was "a huge amount" of interest from sponsors for a New York regatta, but that it would have been difficult financially to pull off. Without giving exact figures, Barclay said the ACWS regattas each cost several million dollars, and that a New York race would have cost more than earlier events.
"New York was always going to be expensive," Barclay said by phone from New Zealand. `'We didn't go into that thinking New York was going to pay us a whole lot of money. They are not in position to pay us a lot of money and we didn't ask them to. We felt that maybe this was not the best time to be spending the money.
"The last thing we want to do is compromise our plans for a summer of sailing in San Francisco," Barclay said.
After the schooner America beat a fleet of British ships around the Isle of Wight to claim the silver trophy in 1851, the New York Yacht Club successfully defended the America's Cup off New York 13 times between 1870 and 1920. The regatta was moved to Newport, R.I., in 1930, and the NYYC successfully defended the Cup 11 more times before Dennis Conner lost it to Australia in 1983. Conner won it back in 1987 and the next three defenses were held in San Diego. It's since been held in Auckland, New Zealand, and Valencia, Spain.
Oracle won the oldest trophy in international sports with a two-race sweep of Alinghi of Switzerland off Valencia in February 2010.
While there will be fewer ACWS stops than originally planned, Barclay said they served their purpose.
"Has the America's Cup World Series delivered what it was intended to deliver? I think the answer is yes in every count," Barclay said.
Three sailors who won gold medals at the London Olympics are sailing in the America's Cup. Britain's Ben Ainslie has his own team in the ACWS and will then sail with Oracle. Nathan Outteridge of Australia is with Artemis Racing of Sweden and countryman Tom Slingsby is with Oracle. Britain's Iain Percy, who sails for Artemis, won a silver medal in the London Games after previously winning two gold medals.
Artemis, Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Challenge are the only teams expected to make the starting line of the Louis Vuitton Cup. Team Korea paid the entry fee, but Barclay said he hasn't been able to confirm if it's started building a 72-foot cat.