Port commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to submit a bid to host the next America’s Cup on San Diego Bay in August 2017.
The commissioners, two of them sailors, spoke enthusiastically about the prospect of hosting sailing’s marquee regatta. The commissioners directed the port’s staff to respond to a request for information from America’s Cup officials by March 3.
America’s Cup officials are talking with other venues about hosting the 35th America’s Cup because San Francisco officials haven’t offered the same terms they did for last summer’s regatta, which ended with Oracle Team USA staging one of the greatest comebacks in sports.
It was originally believed that a venue would be picked by May, but a statement posted Tuesday on americascup.com said the process is likely to stretch into the summer.
San Diego hosted the America’s Cup in 1988, 1992 and 1995, with racing on the Pacific Ocean off Point Loma.
The 34th America’s Cup was contested in 72-foot, wing-sailed catamarans that rode up on hydrofoils, with both hulls completely out of the water. Those boats were expensive and, some felt, overpowered with their 131-foot wing sails.
To cut costs, organizers are proposing sailing the next America’s Cup in catamarans of 60-65 feet, with smaller wing sails and fewer sailors.
Commissioner Marshall Merrifield said he felt San Diego has more to offer than San Francisco.
“We have much better stadium sailing viewing,” he said. “People in Berkeley cannot see these like the folks in Coronado can.”
He also said the port has more control over the services the America’s Cup officials are looking for.
“We may be a stalking horse. Others may be a stalking horse. But we should put our best foot forward and be assertive,” Merrifield said.
Negotiations in San Francisco are at an impasse because America’s Cup officials want free rent for piers, as well as have police, fire and other services provided.