The 34th America’s Cup which took place in the summer of 2013 on the waters of San Francisco Bay was an exciting event which helped to raise the profile of the San Francisco maritime community and brought an influx of energy and investment into the San Francisco waterfront. With San Francisco a strong contender to re-host the next cycle of the Cup there remains a lot of opportunity and potential for the momentum of maritime activity in San Francisco to continue to grow alongside this fabled event.
As is typical of the America’s Cup the time period following the conclusion of one Cup cycle and preceding the announcement of the protocol and venue for the next Cup cycle is rife with rumors and speculation. This time is no different. After the successful defense by Oracle Team USA in what has been described as the “Greatest Comeback in the History of Sport” focus has quickly turned to the question of “what’s next?” Speculation about who, what, where and when has been all over the map and all over the internet. Here’s a brief look at what we know and a brief overview of what’s to come:
The defender of the 35th America’s Cup will be the Golden Gate Yacht Club’s San Francisco based Oracle Racing Team USA. The Challenger of Record for the 35th Cup will be Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club sponsored by the Oatley family with former America’s Cup Event Authority CEO and America’s Cup and 18 foot skiff legend Iain Murray at the helm. Other confirmed challengers include New Zealand’s Emirates Team New Zealand, Sweden’s Artemis Racing and Italy’s Luna Rossa Challenge. Two additional teams have declared their intention to participate and are actively and publicly raising funds – Ben Ainslie Racing (UK) and Team France Challenge.
The class rule for the type of boat that will be used in the 35th America’s Cup has not yet been announced. However, world renowned Multi Hull Designer Pete Melvin has been retained by the Defender to author the rule and early indications point to a 60 foot foiling wing sailed catamaran with some one-design features in an effort to reduce costs. The final rule is officially set to be announced in March of 2014.
While we at CWL remain hopeful that the 35th America’s Cup will return to the waters of San Francisco Bay, it is far from a sure thing. Negotiations between the defender and the City of San Francisco appear to have stalled. What is certain is that any final decision on the venue will not come before at least the summer of 2014.
The Defender Oracle Racing has invited bids from other potential venues including Newport, Rhode Island, San Diego, CA, and Maui, Hawaii and is reportedly engaged in ongoing talks with all potential venues.
It was also recently announced that Oracle has shipped an AC45 to Sydney, Australia where they will be participating in a ‘Spring Training’ session with the Challenger of Record during March 2014.
The defender and the Challenger of Record have agreed upon holding the 35th America’s Cup in 2017. The specific time of year and the specific racing schedule has yet to be decided upon or announced and will largely depend on the venue selection.
While many details remain unknown, we do know that the 35th America’s Cup is sure to be an exciting event with lots of opportunities to highlight and increase maritime activity and sailing in the United States. It will also be an opportunity to capitalize on marine tourism. During the 34th America’s Cup many of our clients experienced a virtually unprecedented spike in vessel charter and shore-side tourism activity, demonstrating that it can be as profitable as it is intriguing.
Being the engineering marvels that they are, the America’s Cup racing boats travel at record speeds over courses spanning several miles, which aside from being fun to watch, also presents unique navigation challenges to the host’s maritime community. While the America’s Cup was in San Francisco, we worked with the Coast Guard to advise our clients on how to safely and legally navigate through, and observe the event.
And with a feature event taking place on the water there’s bound to be increased overall vessel traffic – something we and our clients observed first-hand. With increased traffic comes an increased risk of collision and injury. If you are planning to participate in the fun on the water, no matter where the Cup is held, we always recommend ensuring that you have adequate insurance coverage and that whoever is navigating your vessel is adequately qualified.