The future of the Americas Cup
Ever since Jimmy Spithill and the large contingent of Team Oracle landed in Bermuda over 2 years ago they have talked of bringing the Americas Cup back to the islands of Bermuda if the USA team retain the trophy. The crew, designers, engineers, boat builders, administrators, and a whole range of specialists and back room staff and their families have integrated themselves very well into the fabric of the island.
Without any doubt they have been given every assistance, been allowed to cut corners and slipped rules and legalizations have been amended but, and some locals will argue the opposite, most will belive that Team Oracle has been good for this island, no more so than their inspirational leader Spithill.
For most locals the carrot has been that if Oracle win, then they don’t leave and the island continues to reap the benefits of having 100 team members and their families living on the island with all that means in terms of consumption and investment in the country.
However as the contest heats up and it reaches it’s final week of competition any thoughts that Bermuda will continue to host Team Oracle or the Americas Cup have been thrown into confusion.
In the background is the Americas Cup Event Authorities (ACEA) plans to change the format of the competition. As this high octane sail boat racing moves closer and closer to Formula One, in both drama and technology, the proposal is that the Americas Cup format changes to a season of qualifying series being played out at different locations around the world, packaged nicely together for television and expanding the reach of the Americas Cup. This would also importantly not only spread the wealth but also reduce the crippling cost of one country hosting the 6-week finals.
The ACEA would expect to add more teams, with Spain and Italy the two most likely, the ACEA would reduce the cost of entry and expect to make more from TV rights and merchandising. Up to 12 different events are slated over an 18-month period with the finals still be hosted at venue of the defenders choice. Potentially Bermuda if Team Oracle win this one.
Five of the six teams competing in this year’s Americas Cup have already signed up to this planned proposal. Crucially New Zealand have not, with the Kiwis more vocal than most that they will take the ‘Auld Mug’ and the next Americas Cup away from Bermuda and down under for them to defend it.
With Emirates Team New Zealand 4-1 up after today’s latest round of races, the next Americas Cup looks as if it could be half a world away from Bermuda.