BMW ORACLE America’s Cup Win Answers Some Questions and Asks More

Race two of the best of three America’s Cup ‘DOG’ match took place yesterday with minutes to spare. Fans spent hours waiting for racing to get underway in Valencia while the race committee tried to juggle the weather in Valencia with the Notice of Race issued by the defender.

As thousands sat by their computer screens getting increasingly frustrated, the official America’s Cup internet feed showed flags happily fluttering. At one point, a Version 5 America’s Cup boat could be seen sailing in the background while the race missed it’s advertised television slots. Fans switched from sailing to Rugby, the Winter Olympics and the lead up to the Daytona 500, many missing the eventual race.

The Scuttlebutt is that Race organiser Harold Bennett had to deputise helpers to run the race after officials from the defending club refused to comply with his orders to run the race. The ramifications of not holding the second race yesterday would have been far-reaching and Bennett might have single handedly saved the future of the America’s Cup as a televised event.

When it finally started, the race was compelling viewing – at least for 13 miles. Those who had walked away from the Cup as ‘not being a proper match race’ were proved wrong with the second penalty given to Alinghi in as many races. Alinghi once off the line looked like a different boat, leading for much of the first leg due to calling the favoured side of the course. It looked like we had a boat race on our hands.

Once around the top mark though, the BMW ORACLE wing took over and the gap went from 28 seconds at the first mark to 2 minutes 28 at the second. As the sun set, BMW ORACLE had notched up two wins from two races and barring any legal complications had secured the America’s Cup.

Larry Ellison was on board USA 17 as the boat crossed the line, and once it did, speculation began in earnest about America’s Cup 34.

The Golden Gate Yacht Club and BMW ORACLE will now celebrate their win, which has come at great expense. Not only has the financial outlay been significant, the competitors in the 33rd America’s Cup have used up all the goodwill and brand equity of the event. This will have to be built up again and the behaviour and statements of the American team over the last few years will come back to haunt them should they appear to copy any behaviour they accused Alinghi and SNG of being unfair.

Every protocol and rule will be scrutinised against the statements made on the record in a pile of public letters and court submissions. As Kimball Livingston said in his blog:

“With his hostile challenge and gut-level determination to see through a Deed of Gift match if need be, Larry Ellison led our sport into a wilderness of two and a half years, blowing a hole in the development of professional sailing but promising to rescue the Cup from a future that I agree we didn’t want. Had he lost here, I don’t know how he could have excused himself. Now he shoulders the burdens of the Defender of America’s Cup.”

There are now some big questions that the America’s Cup community and the sport of yacht racing are asking. 1) Where will the 34th America’s Cup be sailed? 2) What will the boats be like? 3) What structural changes will take place, if any, in the management of the America’s Cup?

We do know that Mascalzone Latino Team Audi will be the Challenger of Record. The team headed up by Vincenzo Onorato has been a very public supporter of BMW ORACLE and the GGYC over the past couple of years. Lara Ciribì Onorato, newly nominated President of Mascalzone Latino Team Audi will also be measured according to the standards that were imposed on Alinghi and SNG. He said yesterday:

“Thanks to this victory, the America’s Cup will become a high profile sporting event, run by fairer rules than the ones the previous Defender wanted to impose”.

A period of consultation is probably wise. Some statements may be made immediately, but if Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts are true to their word, teams interested in competing in the 34th America’s Cup will be asked to provide their input.

The world, after being frustrated to the point of apathy is now watching again.

America’s Cup coverage is presented by the DARK BLUE BOOK

Do you have an opinion? Open comments are below.