America's Cup 2013: The 34th Defense

Submitted by ub on Sun, 09/15/2013 - 17:15

Golden Gate YC (GGYC) holds the America's Cup as trustee, and defends the trophy against the challenger selected in the Louis Vuitton Cup Regatta. GGYC will be represented by Oracle Team USA.

The actual Challenger that races GGYC will be selected in the Louis Vuitton Cup regatta, which serves as the challenger selection process for the prospective teams. Read more about the 2013 America's Cup Teams

Club Nautico di Roma was the original Challenger of Record, giving them the right to negotiation the initial terms of the America's Cup match with the Defender. After the initial terms were set, as agreed in the Protocol for the 34th Defense of the America's Cup, additional challenger candidates were sought and accepted. CNR, represented by Mascalzone Latino, resigned as Challenger of Record (COR) for financial reasons in May, 2011, and withdrew from competition. Per the Protocol the Swedish entry represented by Artemis Racing was next in line chronologically and automatically stepped into the Challenger of Record role.
Read Original Challenger of Record Announcement

Before the Protocol for the 34th Defense of the America's Cup was signed and additional teams were accepted, the Challenger of Record held the power to unilaterally agree with the Defender to amend the plans for the event. However, with the acceptance of additional challengers, the consent of a majority of challengers is now be needed to modify the rules, so the Challenger of Record's power is not sweeping. The Challenger of Record, though, must agree to any such changes, as of course must the Defender, so under the present Protocol the COR does retain a veto power.
Learn more about the Protocol for the 2013 America's Cup and other rules

The windows for additional teams to be accepted as challenger or defender candidates ran between November 1, 2010 and March 31, 2011. See CupInfo's list of entered and prospective teams for the 2013 America's Cup

This timeframe was extended from the originally announced window between October 1, 2010, and January 31, 2011. The Protocol also allowed for possible late entries at the discretion of GGYC, though the club said that they would accept only an exceptionally strong late entry. GGYC subsequently accepted Luna Rossa Challenge, a three-time challenger since 2000, as a late entry. GGYC and Oracle encouraged the formation of more US teams to compete with Oracle for defender selection, though none were accepted.

Key America's Cup leaders hinted in October 2010 that a decision might even be announced in November, but as of late December 2010 the process looked like it would satisfy the December 31 deadline only with concerted effort. San Francisco, CA; Newport, RI; and Rome, Italy were the cities said to be under consideration.
Proposed event plans for the America's Cup Village in San Francisco. Click image to read more about northern waterfront plan.

GGYC's potential selection of a San Francisco location for a long time appeared to hinge on local approval of a hosting agreement, given that race organizers including Larry Ellison had said that the city was their preference if terms could be agreed. On Tuesday, December 14, 2010, the city unanimously passed a resolution approving a modified hosting agreement and Mayor Gavin Newsom ceremonially signed the document for the city. The version that was approved shifted many of the locations from the originally-discussed waterfront south of the Bay Bridge to a northern waterfront alternative instead, but also restructured several aspects of the financial terms. What remained for the city and regatta organizers was to see if they could adjust provisions of the deal to suit both parties. Provided that costs for the city are not increased, details of the agreement may be modified by city officials without requiring passage of another resolution.

Time was tight, however. Though GGYC told San Francisco that a signed agreement was needed by Friday, December 17, if the city was to be the host, even before that agreement was in hand, Golden Gate YC officials turned to Rhode Island, beginning the week of December 12, for a series of escalating discussions with state and local officials about the possibility of holding the match in Newport instead. Efforts as of December 30 still involved working on a formal expression of commitment from Rhode Island and fine tuning the San Francisco agreement. In late December, Rhode Island officials said that a Letter of Intent or a more extensive Hosting Agreement would require the results of cost studies which could not be completed until the first or second week of January.

The Protocol for the America's Cup required a venue decision by December 31, though if necessary the Protocol could have been amended to extend the deadline. Entered and prospective teams need some certainty about the race location in order to set budgets and secure sponsorships, so an extension might not have been well-received by the teams.

San Francisco was considered the most likely host city throughout much of 2010, and as of July 8, 2010, was declared by GGYC to be the only US location still being considered. Golden Gate YC also said at the time that they were studying proposals from four European countries that had made strong expressions of interest, though GGYC did not provide any details regarding those proposals. Comments from San Francisco officials in September and October referred to two European cities being considered, and in early November GGYC/BMW Oracle sources said that an Italian city was the only other remaining candidate still under consideration. Read GGYC's "Only San Francisco" Announcement

The proposed location of the planned America's Cup village in San Francisco centered for a long time on a combination of disused piers near downtown San Francisco, just south of the Bay Bridge. See a version of the proposed Space Plan for the America's Cup Village and View photos of locations under consideration at

In early November, despite all of the preliminary debate about the southern piers, and the existing hosting agreement and financial studies that proceeded on the premise of the southern location, the city's discussion returned to a Northern Option located between the Ferry Building and Fisherman's Wharf. Though the new site itself offered some significant advantages, including proximity to more suitable commercial districts on land, and especially a more direct view of the race courses, the difficulties of satisfying the political process while meeting the needs of all parties for the northern site appeared steep, and proposed changes to the agreement that coincided with the new location appeared for a time to be dealbreakers.

In late summer, the obstacle of a prolonged government approvals process raised fears that San Francisco would not be able to meet the needs of the America's Cup in time. Although the effort to host the event has solid backing from local leaders, the city and other agencies are required by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to consider an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in making discretionary approvals of the sort needed for construction of the shore-based amenities and infrastructure that the America's Cup organizers seek. Even though the America's Cup village would be likely to get a favorable EIR finding, the minimal length of the process is still several months, with the potential to take even longer despite little or no opposition.

Officials considered seeking an exemption from CEQA requirements, a nearly unprecedented move which would have required a vote of the state legislature, but regional and state politics ultimately led the exemption effort to be set aside. The prospect of strengthening a precedent for such exemptions was alarming to environmental groups, even those who otherwise were inclined to welcome the America's Cup to the Bay. Indeed, after tabling the CEQA exemption, San Francisco city officials reached a consensus agreement with local environmental organizations to support the bid. The 2013 America's Cup facilities would still require approvals from several other agencies, but the city's representatives expect that these can be completed in under a year. As of late 2011, the "Final" EIR is awaiting certification from the San Francisco Planning Commission, who will take up the matter in a December 15 meeting.

Although San Francisco was declared by GGYC to be the only American city under consideration, shadow competition emerged over the summer of 2010 from mostly unnamed European cities, primarily in Italy. Unconfirmed reports that an offer of $500 million in support had been made if the America's Cup were to go to La Maddalena, Italy, were denied by team representatives, who also pointed out that La Maddalena was not suited to hosting the large crowds that would visit an America's Cup venue. However, in August 2010 Russell Coutts did admit that serious talks were underway with other European locations if San Francisco were rejected, reaffirming what Coutts previously said in June.

The offer of funding alone was likely not the issue, since Larry Ellison has already said that America's Cup facilities in San Francisco will not use taxpayer funds, but certainty about approvals and a credible plan to have the America's Cup village ready to use on time as planned were important considerations, too. In late September, 2010, San Francisco officials included in their proposal the prospect of $270 million in private sponsorship for the event if the city were chosen. The city will still incur costs in meeting administrative commitments, processing approvals, and there is an imputed opportunity cost of providing pier space to the America's Cup organization. Private funds are intended to offset many of the city's expenses, however.

Initially San Diego, CA, and Valencia, Spain, were mentioned following the February 2010 match, though team members pointed out that very little thought was given to the next defense while the team was focused on their 2010 challenge.

At the May 6th Rome press conference, Coutts revealed little regarding the venue other than that consultants were studying the feasibility issues, and it was believed that detailed discussions were taking place with the city of San Francisco at that time as well.

BMW Oracle leaders in early July also referred to two other unnamed European cities under consideration.

Newport, RI, formed a lobbying group to try to land the event, or at least some regattas leading up to the match itself. San Diego made similar overtures. New London, CT, not far away from Newport, though not initially mentioned by GGYC or BMWO, was also active in proposing themselves as a host for at least some races. Still in southern California, Long Beach expressed interest, and in the Bay area, the alternative of Alameda promoted itself, too.

The team has had close relations with San Diego, doing the bulk of their testing and training there before the 2010 match. The southern California city was part of the BMW Oracle post-match "Victory Tour", and a natural candidate for some exhibition or preliminary racing. Valencia was the least likely of these cities to host the match, and was officially no longer under consideration by November the Associated Press reported.

San Francisco was in a strong position since GGYC is located there and SF Bay is a dramatic location for sailing with substantial wind. As noted by Kimball Livingston, the Bay is ideal for the "transformative" America's Cup that Ellison, Coutts, and Onorato seek. BMW Oracle team members including Ellison said that SF was their preference providing that a suitable location for team bases and spectators was possible, and that any required infrastructure will not be built at taxpayers' expense. Aside from GGYC, the headquarters of Oracle Corporation, Ellison's company, is in the area, and it has been his home for many years. The primary obstacle to proceeding with San Francisco was securing government approvals and building sufficient infrastructure to accommodate teams, media, and fans.

Newport was the Cup's long-time home from 1930, when the NYYC moved the Match there from New York with the consent of the Challenger at the time, Sir Thomas Lipton, and the regatta remained in Newport up until the Cup was lost to Australia in 1983. Before 1930, although the Cup matches themselves were held in or near New York City, defender trials were regularly held in Newport, and some of the most legendary defenders in America's Cup history were built just up Narragansett Bay from Newport by the Herreshoffs in Bristol. Larry Ellison, while making his home near SF, recently purchased a fabled Newport "cottage", which suggested he was looking forward to spending some time in the Rhode Island area, but accounts of Ellison's divorce in late 2010 imply that his ex-wife will retain the house, known as Beechwood, instead. Read about Beechwood at Newport Discovery Guide

In late September, Newport was reportedly asked by America's Cup Race Management to submit a proposal detailing their ability to host a large yachting series. The inference was that Newport could make improvements to the Fort Adams facilities and host a major lead-up regatta in 2012, possibly the new America's Cup World Series, according to reports in the Providence Journal.

In early December, 2010, Newport surfaced again as a contender for the actual defense, as an alternative to San Francisco and Italy if a deal couldn't be reached in one of those locations, and if organizers preferred a US port to defend the America's Cup. And even after the San Francisco announcement, Newport has been mentioned as a fall-back if obstacles prevent timely approvals on the west coast. And in the meantime, an America's Cup World Series regatta was held there in June-July 2012.

Notably, too, following the 2003 America's Cup two racing series were hosted in these two cities, the regattas consisting solely of the then-America's Cup Defender and the Challenger of Record (namely BMW Oracle Racing) sailing their 2003 yachts, with the Mo√ęt Cup staged in SF, September 2003, and the UBS Trophy in Newport, June, 2004. Both series drew sizable crowds to the waterfront. Ellison has said that part of the decision to select a venue would depend on best accommodating the needs of teams and spectators, and these events especially helped demonstrate the spectator component.

The America's Cup match and probably the Challenger Selection Series (known since 1983 as the Louis Vuitton Cup) would be held in the chosen city, as well as a Defender's Selection Series if there is one. Preliminary racing before that would probably be held in multiple locations around the world (see discussion of Louis Vuitton Trophy, below, under "How").

72-foot catamarans with rigid wing sails, designed to a new AC72 Class Rule, as officially announced September 13 by the Defender and Challenger of Record. Boats from 60 to 90 feet long were studied, including trimarans and catamarans from 65 to 85 feet long. Factors including weight, cost, complexity, and transportation logistics guided the configuration of the yacht, including length and number of hulls. The AC72 cats began sailing in 2012, while the teams were working their way up the learning curve first racing on the smaller AC45. See AC72 Rollout for photos and stories on the yachts in development

The first AC45 cat was under construction in late 2010 in New Zealand and launched in January 2011 for evaluation trials. The first batch of four additional boats was due by March 1, which the teams received in order of their notices of entry. Teams tested the boats in April and May, 2010, including mock regattas with the officials and broadcast technology before official racing began in August, 2011, in Cascais, Portugal.

Selection of this yacht configuration was revealed at a Press Conference in Valencia: Read Announcement and View Valencia Press Conference (media currently unavailable) and Read more about the new AC72 Class

US Sailing along with Morrelli & Melvin Design and Engineering wrote the AC72 class rule, following on from work they did in creating drafts used to support the selection of multihulls for the next America's Cup. The Class Rule was published October 15, 2010, two weeks later than initially planned, to allow the incorporation of feedback from interested parties. Learn more about the AC72 Class Rule

Both mono-hull and multi-hull designs were considered. As of late August, 2010, docktalk was centering on the multi-hull option, with attention being paid to the wing-sailed racing cats of the revitalized IC4 (International C-Class Catamaran Championship), a multi-hull event once known as "The Little America's Cup". Though some existing teams were not excited by the prospect of having to switch from conventional mono-hulls, where their expertise lies, to multi-hulls instead, significantly Vincenzo Onorato, the Challenger of Record sponsor, was reported to have warmed to the concept after initial skepticism and assented to the choice. An official announcement of the yacht selection was made September 13 in Valencia. Designer Pete Melvin helps explain some aspects of the decision: See "Choosing the Multihull" at CupInfo

To help in the decision for a new class, designers were hired to prepare mono-hull and multi-hull concepts, meetings with interested parties including the broader yacht design community and representatives of potential America's Cup teams took place in May and June 2010. White papers outlining the concepts to date were issued on July 1, and sea trials of comparable designs took place in July 2010 in Valencia, Spain. To author draft Class Rules, Golden Gate YC engaged US Sailing for the multi-hulls and the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC) for the mono-hulls.

The mono-hull concept in the early draft featured a canting keel and conventional mast, while the multi-hull being discussed considered a wing mast. See "High Performance Yachts for America's Cup" plus Mono-hull Concept Paper (pdf) and Multi-hull Concept Paper (pdf) for details.

Following BMW Oracle's victory, Ellison said that the yacht class for the America's Cup would be determined by a consensus among the America's Cup community. Expectations initially were for a new design rule for monohulls representing an evolution from today's America's Cup Class yachts, namely larger and faster boats with more high-tech features. Soon after, Ellison also made statements that said multihulls were being considered, for reasons of speed and spectator appeal. And internet chatter also circulated a third tantalizing possibility, large yachts modeled on skiffs, over-canvassed and of light displacement. Coutts said at several points that the among the characteristics desired for the new class, in addition to speed and visual appeal, was a more physically demanding boat.

In a March 22 interview with Fortune magazine, Ellison raised the prospect that the design envelope for the new class could be very tight, with the goal of controlling the escalating design and engineering costs that deter potential challengers from entering.

At the Rome Press Conference May 6th, Russell Coutts revealed that two yacht design firms had been hired, Bruce Nelson and Morelli & Melvin, to prepare concept studies for both monohulls and multihulls with the plan of holding a conference in Valencia, open to all interested teams, to review the proposals and establish what options might be viable for the next Cup class yachts.

A consensus formed in open meetings among all interested parties in 1988-89 was the process that produced the America's Cup Class (ACC) Design Rule for the 1992 match, the only other time a class has actually been created and built for the America's Cup. The two previous classes before the ACC/IACC, the International Rule 12-Meter (first adopted for the America's Cup in 1958) and the Universal Rule J-Class (first adopted for the America's Cup in 1930), were chosen in an era before there were multiple challengers. Those were pre-existing class rules that were selected in mutual agreement between the potential challenger at the time and the defending New York YC, and in fact those classes were picked largely at the challenger's urging. Matches before 1930 did not use a design rule.

In 2007, in what was perceived as a conflict of interest and a violation of the spirit of the Deed of Gift, the defender at the time had their own design team create a class rule, though after sustained objection eventually allowed limited comments, and only from officially accepted challengers. In contrast, Russell Coutts said that BMW Oracle might even consider recusing themselves from the design rule formation process if that was the desire of the challengers.

The 2013 America's Cup Match itself is tentatively set for September 7-21 (as needed), 2013, with the Challenger selection series in July and August, 2013. The Defender of the America's Cup, Golden Gate YC represented by Oracle Racing, will faced the foreign Challenger selected in the Louis Vuitton Cup regatta.

The Louis Vuitton Cup regatta opening ceremonies kicked off July 4, 2013, followed by a planned fleet racing day which was cancelled due to high winds, before switching back to head-to-head match racing. Round Robin Match Racing for the challenger candidates will be followed by Semi-Finals and the Louis Vuitton Cup Final. The winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup becomes the 34th Challenger for the America's Cup.

The details of the Louis Vuitton Cup (Challenger selection) regatta were required by the Protocol to be agreed upon by the challengers by July 1, 2011, and were announced July 2, though later modified. The format and dates have been modified since, adjusting to the number of teams and the demands of racing the new AC72's. See Latest Louis Vuitton Cup Format

The format for a Defender selection regatta (if any) was to be decided by GGYC on or before that date, also, though to date no additional Defender Candidates have come into the picture. A Defender series, if necessary, would be held simultaneous with the Challenger Selection races. For training purposes, Oracle Team USA is holding an informal Defender series between their two yachts at the same time as the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Two Seasons: The 2011-12 and 2012-13 America's Cup World Series
Events were staged in cities around the world as a build-up to the actual Challenger Selection Series (Louis Vuitton Cup) and the America's Cup Match in 2013. Named the America's Cup World Series (ACWS), the number, dates, and locations of the complete race program evolved over time. Locations for six regattas of the 2011-12 season were announced, along with 2012 stops in San Francisco a year before the LVC and the 2013 America's Cup Match itself. In April, 2011, the three ACWS were confirmed for 2011 in Cascais, Portugal; Plymouth, England; and San Diego, USA. For 2012, Venice and Naples in Italy were added to San Francisco; and for 2013, the ACWS returned to Naples for one final date before the Louis Vuitton Cup begins. See 2011-2012 America's Cup World Series for ACWS schedule, race coverage, and results.

Coutts and Ellison, as well as Vincenzo Onorato of initial Challenger of Record Mascalzone Latino, were adamant that the regatta will have completely independent jury and officials, and that the organization itself will be a neutral as possible. All sides were especially firm on the point that the Defender will not compete to influence the Challenger selection, an inappropriate and unprecedented possibility which was one of the inflammatory issues driving the conflict that played out from 2007-2010.

Louis Vuitton and parent company LVMH sponsored the Louis Vuitton Cup, awarded to the selected challenger from 1983 until July 2007. Louis Vuitton withdrew their support following the 2007 America's Cup over disagreements with the then-defender, objecting to the direction intended for the potential 2009 or 2010 Match.

After Golden Gate YC and BMW Oracle Racing were successful in their 2010 challenge, it was expected initially that some integration with the newly created Louis Vuitton Trophy (LVT) program that began in 2009 might be in store, since there are close ties between the WSTA teams of the LVT and the America's Cup challenger corps, but the LVT banner was ultimately retired and the focus is officially on the traditional Louis Vuitton Cup. Officially the event in Dubai, November 12-27, 2010, was the final Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta.

Promisingly, Russell Coutts also said after BMW Oracle Racing's win that the Defender would be open to the possibility of a Defender Selection Series like that which took place throughout America's Cup's history until 2000. Coutts repeated this at the Rome Press Conference, saying "We have to have a defender's series." Despite such urging, however, at the close of the entry notice period, no additional defender candidate had yet officially signed up and been accepted.