San Francisco just played host to the most unique America's Cup in history. The question now is whether The City will get another chance down the road.
For the first time, spectators could stand on the shore and watch the event live, rather than needing access to a boat themselves to make the trek out into the open water, as had been the case in previous races. San Francisco Bay is known around the world as a spectacular place to sail, and Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, the driving force behind bringing the 34th America's Cup here, said he wants an encore.
“It's going to be a group decision,” he said following Oracle Team USA's victory Wednesday. “We're going to sit down and talk with the officials in San Francisco and see if that's going to be possible to come back. The senior people on the team will talk about the different options we have. I personally would love to come back to San Francisco. I have a house here.”
Since the winning team is responsible for arranging the venue and guidelines for the next regatta, the decision lies in Oracle's hands. Had the team not rallied from an 8-1 deficit to retain the rights to the cup, Emirates Team New Zealand would likely have moved it back to Auckland, though the pressure would have been on to match what happened here.
Grant Dalton, New Zealand's managing director, said apart from Auckland, he couldn't think of a better place to sail than San Francisco. He did say there was a major flaw in this event that needs to be addressed.
The Kiwi team spent $100 million on its program. That lofty price tag was a major factor in why there were only three teams participating in the Louis Vuitton Cup for the right to challenge Oracle. Previous installments have had teams numbering in the double digits.
“They're too expensive,” Dalton said of the 72-foot catamarans that made their debut over the past few months. “It's not in our hands of course, but for participation you need something that's more realistic price wise, obviously Oracle's done an amazing job with the technology and that'd be pretty scary to other teams.”
Ellison acknowledged the hefty price tag, but said that's the price of moving the sport forward, and that he believes the event drew new interest in sailing from a broader audience.
“It's no secret that these boats are expensive,” he said “And we'd like to have more countries competing next time, so we're going to have to figure out how to accomplish both. Have more countries competing at the same time, but keep it as spectacular as it was this last regatta.”
Ellison said he's already received notification of an official challenger for the 35th America's Cup, but that he was not ready to announce who that was. There is no set timetable for when that regatta will take place, but organizers will likely want to work around the 2016 Olympics, which will draw many of the world's top sailors.