SAN DIEGO (LOG NEWS SERVICE) — Its official; the America’s Cup will be held in Bermuda in 2017.
The announcement that Bermuda not San Diego had been selected to host the next America’s Cup was made during a news conference held by America’s Cup officials in New York on Dec. 2.
The announcement confirmed a report by the Associated Press in November that Bermuda not San Diego had been selected to host the America’s Cup in 2017.
Requests at the time for comment from Ellison by the Associated Press were not answered. Reached in New Zealand, Coutts declined to confirm the decision, saying he was under a non-disclosure agreement. Members of San Diego’s bid effort, as well as officials with the Port of San Diego, also declined comment, saying they were under a non-disclosure agreement, the Associated Press said.
The choice of the British territory is sure to be unpopular with traditionalists. However it is intriguing, from its location at the northern tip of the Bermuda Triangle to the financial incentives that include tax-free status for regatta participants.
Holding the America’s Cup in Bermuda will be the first time a U.S. defender has held the America’s Cup outside the United States. It will also be the first time in the regatta’s 163-year history that a defender sails the races in foreign waters by choice rather than necessity. In 2007 and 2010, Alinghi of Switzerland held the America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain, because it wasn’t practical to race on Lake Geneva.
Before he won the America’s Cup in 2010, Ellison, one of the world’s richest men with a fortune estimated at $52 billion, spoke of how he wanted to return the trophy to the United States after a 15-year absence. Now he’s taking it offshore after just one cycle in America.
In 1988, 1992 and 1995 the America’s Cup was hosted by San Diego. In 1995, Coutts skippered Team New Zealand to a five-race sweep of Dennis Conner for the first of Coutts’ five America’s Cup victories.
According to the Citizens for Tax Justice, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands are the top tax havens for American corporations to legally reduce their federal tax liability.
Sailors and other members of America’s Cup syndicates are expected to benefit from tax breaks offered by Bermuda. Some America’s Cup sailors earn six-figure salaries. Others in the sport are paid millions of dollars a year.
Half of the six teams currently entered are owned by billionaires, the Associated Press said. Oracle Team USA is owned by Ellison; Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge is owned by Patrizio Bertelli, husband of Miuccia Prada of the Prada fashion house; and Sweden’s Artemis Racing is owned by Torbjorn Tornquvist.
Most sailors wanted the regatta to return to San Francisco Bay, where a steady wind blows in through the Golden Gate Bridge. Oracle Team USA staged one of the greatest comebacks in sports on San Francisco Bay in September 2013, rallying from an 8-1 deficit to win the final eight races and retain the Auld Mug.
Coutts however ruled out a return to San Francisco, unhappy that it didn’t offer the same terms as last year, including free rent for piers as well as police, fire and other services
Once San Francisco was eliminated, many challengers expressed support for San Diego over Bermuda, feeling it would be a logistical nightmare to take the competition to the Bermuda. The island is some 640 miles off North Carolina.
Five syndicates — Artemis Racing (Sweden), Ben Ainslie Racing (Great Britain), Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rosa Challenge (Italy) and Team France — have filed challenges so far and Coutts said a sixth, probably from Asia, is possible. Picking Bermuda is the culmination of a nearly yearlong process in which Coutts considered venues from coast to coast, including Chicago.
The Associated Press reported that Team New Zealand officials have said the choice of Bermuda could be a deal-breaker for them. The Kiwis are funded in large part by their government, and some of their biggest commercial sponsors would get no benefit from backing a boat sailing in a regatta in Bermuda.
Another syndicate that might not make it to the starting line is Team France. It’s not known who Team France’s sponsors are, and France-based Airbus recently signed a technology deal with Oracle Team USA.
A series of warm-up regattas, The America’s Cup World Series, in the high-performance, 45-foot catamarans, are scheduled to be held in 2015-16 to help determine standings for the America’s Cup qualifiers in 2017, which will be sailed in the 63-foot catamarans. So far Bermuda, Portsmouth, England and Gothenburg, Sweden have been awarded stops on the America’s Cup World Series.
A report from The Associated Press was used in this story.