If Oracle loses in 2013, who will pick up the gauntlet of the new Ellison-style America’s Cup? Larry Ellison’s AC 2013 model is so expensive and so massive to produce with television crews numbering over a hundred for each racing series, innovative state-of-the-art online graphics for the “uninitiated,” speedy wing sail catamarans, requiring young, extremely conditioned athletes and eliminating rides for well-heeled would-be financiers, and new construction of sailing villages and onshore spectator arenas, all of which, up until now, is commercially unviable.
Christopher Clarey, NY Times, ponders this question in an interview with Oracle’s Ellison, posted on Silicon Valley’s Mercury News this morning. Reported by Forbes to be the third richest American at $33 billion, Ellison has the means and unique opportunity to mold his new concept and provide a different race course for sailing, using the America’s Cup, previously reserved for the elite only, to profile the sport for the general populace, and in his view, inspire new sailing interest and growth.
“I’m very optimistic that once people watch the sport and watch how athletic it is and watch how much fun it is, we get a second chance, a second bite at the apple,” Ellison said. “And we can get kids very involved in this. It’s every bit as much fun as snowboarding.”
But even Ernesto Bertarelli, billionaire and team owner of Alinghi, Ellison’s “bitter rival” and litigated loser of the last America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain, “claimed last year that the costs of trying to compete effectively with Ellison’s riches were too high in the current economic climate.”
According to Clarey, Mike Sanderson, once named “world sailor of the year,” a Kiwi, and former manager of the defunct syndicate, Team Origin, agrees:
“The scary thing is if Oracle lose[s] this next Cup, who on earth is going to be able to afford to keep this model running?”
Newport, RI, synonymous for over fifty years as the landmark destination for the traditional America’s Cup monohulled yacht races, and bearer of legacy for the world’s biggest sports event next to the Olympics, looks forward to hosting a spectacular glimpse of Ellison’s new model of the AC 2013, the America’s Cup World Series in June and July 2012, a promo of sorts for the real regatta series, which takes place in 2013 in San Francisco.
Rhode Island follows Naples, Italy, and Venice in the second series of training races and spectator events to promote AC 2013. Reviews of the first series held this fall have been generally positive, Clarey reports, but writes: “It is all quite an investment, quite a gamble.”
Update June 25, 2012: Ellison’s vision rings true at Newport America’s Cup start
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