America's Cup: Coutts eliminates San Francisco as 2017 venue

Now it seems it is San Francisco’s turn to to a face plant in the America’s Cup
It has been confirmed by the San Francisco Chronicle that Oracle Team USA CEO, Russell Coutts has eliminated San Francisco as a venue for the 35th America's Cup.

The move was signaled earlier in the week, to the anguish of many, but that has apparently been ignored in the pursuit of the best commercial deal for the event.

The report says:

03/08/2013 - San Francisco (USA,CA) - 34th America's Cup - America's Cup Hall of Fame - Lucy Jewett, Noël Robins, Grant Simmer induction party at De Young Museum - Sir Russell Coutts
Russell Coutts, director of the America's Cup Event Authority, e-mailed the mayor confirming news reports that San Francisco hadn't made the shortlist to host the 35th sailing regatta. San Diego, Chicago and Bermuda are still in the running.

'Given the tight timeline and demands from prospective teams to confirm the final venue, it has been necessary to continue reducing the shortlist of candidate cities,' Coutts wrote. 'We have therefore taken the difficult decision to no longer consider San Francisco as a possible candidate to host AC35.'

The letter gives no explanation, but Lee has been adamant that the city not use general fund money to host the event after losing $11.5 million in city funds on the sailing races last year. In addition, the mayor wanted the race organizers to pay rent on the piers and to pay prevailing union wages for construction projects. Those demands seemed to be a no-go with Coutts and Larry Ellison, CEO of Oracle.

Coutts in his letter said that the race organizers would be open to discussing hosting the 36th event in San Francisco - probably in 2021 or thereabouts.

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Reports had been circulating from the West Coast of the USA, implying that the spectacular venue for the 34th Cup had been eliminated, prompting one long time fan, Peter Stoneberg, to write an impassioned letter to US sailing website and newsletter www.sailingscuttlebutt.com

From Peter Stoneberg:

Recent press reports have said that San Francisco may be out of the running to host the 35th America's Cup (click here). If true, after such a great event last summer, the loss would be profound for San Francisco, for sailing and particularly for the America's Cup.

San Francisco and the Bay present the finest venue in the world for the America's Cup.

As a sailor, I feel that SF is the best a venue can offer: consistent strong winds, flat water needed for foiling cats, breath-taking scenery for TV backdrops, a world-class metropolitan area, plentiful free public access to watch the regattas, and a City that got behind the racing and wants the America's Cup back.

As a businessman, I saw the 34th America's Cup generate hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for San Francisco, create thousands of jobs for the region and showcase our spectacular waterfront to visitors from around the globe.

As a Californian, I saw our state demonstrate how the oldest trophy in international sport could be open to all citizens to view for free, to promote an environmentally connected sport, to use engineering and information technologies to do things that were thought impossible even just two years ago.

Thanks to Larry Ellison's and Russell Coutts' vision and resources in conjunction with the AC Event Authority (ACEA) and in cooperation with the City, the Cup was revolutionized last summer and brought the sport of sailing to millions of spectators in person, on TV and over the web. Thanks to Jimmy Spithill's leadership on the water, the Oracle Team USA victory has been widely characterized as the greatest, most thrilling comeback in the history of sport.

As Former Secretary George Schultz recently said 'God created San Francisco Bay for the America's Cup'. I am only one of many that agree.

As a sailor, citizen and America's Cup fan, I hope that ACEA and Golden Gate Yacht Club continue the great momentum created last summer and the Cup can return to the Defender's home waters.

If you enjoyed watching the Cup, got a job because of the Cup, enjoyed the economic benefit from the Cup and/or would just like to see the Cup come back to San Francisco, please take a moment to make a comment here, write a letter to the City and ACEA and let your voice be heard. Let's not let silence or the vocal minority take our Cup away.


The remaining venues on Coutts' list are San Diego, Bermuda and Chicago for what is now being cynically termed the Commercial Cup.

One of those is due to be eliminated by the end of June and an announcement may be made in September ahead of the December 31, 2014 deadline in the Protocol, but five weeks after the entry deadline has closed for the regatta. Teams will have to pay the $1million entry fee without knowing where the regatta will be held.

The other issue that arises from Coutts' decision is that the Match will now be sailed away from the waters and facilities of the Defending club, Golden Gate Yacht Club. While that was possible in Valencia in 2007 with the specialist facilities that were constructed, it would not be so easy in a major sailing venue, with the need to take over an existing club for an extended period of time.



Aside from the Challenger for the 34th America's Cup, Team New Zealand, there has been not comment from other potential Challengers on the Protocol.

Except well connected sailing correspondent Stuart Alexander, writing for the UK newspaper, The Independent, from the official launch of the Ben Ainslie Racing challenge commented:

Ainslie was diplomatically careful when saying that he was discussing 'issues' around the rules issued last week for the 2017 defence – venue as yet unknown. The Italians, who unveil their new base at Cagliari on Thursday, are fuming at what they see as 'naked dictatorship.'

There may be further comment from the Italians at their launch function.

As yet there have been no announcements of teams having lodged Challenges for the 35th America's Cup, aside from the original Team Australia/Hamilton Island Yacht Club. In the 34th America's Cup, there was a rush to get entries in when they opened, with case eventually being decided by the International Jury in favour of Sweden's Artemis Racing when Royal NZ Yacht Squadron were deemed to be a few nano-seconds too early on their first attempt.

The next Challenger in line becomes the Challenger of Record, if the original withdraws, which happened in the 34th America's Cup with Club Nautico de Roma (Mascalzone Latino). The Challenger of Record has the power of Veto on changes to the Protocol and some other rules changes as does the Defender. The rest of the Challengers just participate on a limited democratic basis only.