The Cup is on the road, and the victory celebrations in San Francisco and San Diego were, by all accounts, a hell of a good time. But business beckons – big business, and San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome appears to be lobbying hard to make sure that some part of the 34th Cup ends up in his home town. And according to Larry, if GGYC can get a big pile of free land from San Francisco, it looks like a done deal.
In a conversation with ABC News yesterday, Ellison talked about fast, exciting boats racing short course regattas for the America’s Cup. To almost everyone’s surprise, he actually said, "Let’s say we have 60 foot multihulls rocketing up the weather mark, it would be wildly exciting, we’d have cameras everywhere…I think it would be a wonderful spectator sport."
This is not a new concept – in fact it is eerily similar to something that has been popping in and out of our collective consciousness for the past 2 years; Russell Coutts’ ‘World Sailing League‘. Remember that the Coutts concept had new boats that "are at the forefront of technology. The 70-foot catamarans will combine speed, maneuverability and the ability to sail close to shore for optimum spectator viewing."
We’ve said it – mostly in jest – a few times over the past couple of years, but is Russell Coutts so far ahead of the rest of us that the entire mess – the Deed of Gift match, the acrimony, the Valencia debacle – was his plan all along? If so, he is a scarier chess player than even Tom Ehman…
The Greater Good
While we may not believe that the America’s Cup spirit is best represented by ultra-fast mid-size multihulls match and fleet racing on short-courses in spectator-friendly venues, we firmly believe that there is nothing that could possible be better for the future of sailing than exactly that – and we have said as much for years. Anyone who remembers the heyday of the ORMA 60 knows that there are few spectacles more exciting than high-powered trimarans in big breeze, and the Extreme 40s have proven that it is a sustainable concept even without the temendous value added property of "America’s Cup."
Still, despite the sea change that we witnessed ourselves in Valencia – the new excitement in multihull design from even the old hands in design, build, and sailing – we are frankly shocked that Ellison is standing up and saying "multihulls, short course, America’s Cup" in front of ABC cameras. Does this renegade have the power to do what no one – not even Nat Hereshoff – could all those years ago? Can a software-geek-turned-superstar use the magic of the America’s Cup to convince the blue blazers of the world that monohulls no longer belong at the top level of yacht racing?