girl in troubléÂ

ac dope

girl in troublé 

The schmoozing in San Francisco begins! Paige Brooks checks in from the first (of, we suspect, many) of the Euro-style media lunches in San Francisco. Photos © Paige Brooks.

Thanks to my work with Sailing Anarchy and the popular Facebook page I’ve been working on for some time, I made the short list of local journalists that Bruno Troublé invited for lunch today. For those who don’t know about Bruno, he’s been one of the most influential men in sailing for decades now as the public face of the Louis Vuitton Cup and the liason between the Cup and luxury designer/retailer Louis Vuitton. The AC34 in 2013 will mark their 30th year with the Cup, and in his words Louis Vuitton has been “the only permanent buddy of the America’s Cup [for that length of time].”

This is no landlubbing marketeer – Bruno’s sailed everything from classic monohulls to high tech cats in the Olympics. He’s skippered his country’s AC challenge, won major events all over the world, and is no spring chicken, but he’s truly excited about the AC being raced in multihulls. Troublé is a charming gentleman and a savvy businessman, which is surely why most people who sail in or watch the AC are truly fond of him. This weekend he heads to New Zealand for the “official” launch of the AC45 on the 8th and he hopes he’s going to get a ride before that. I think I heard him say that 5 times, so I expect we’ll see video before long of Bruno flying a hull in Auckland.

Our invitation was a way for Bruno to introduce Louis Vuitton and the history of the LV Cup to the local San Francisco journos, and he did that well, starting by opening a bottle of Moet on the deck of La Mar overlooking the Bay. He immediately told the first of us who arrived that LV would not only be the sponsor of the Challenger and potential defender series, but also the official time keeper of the World Series and was thus, their first big sponsor. I suppose he saw my eyebrows crinkle and he showed me his fancy new LV watch that could presumably time a pre-start, and said “see, we’ve started to make these racing watches.” I suspect it was his idea. A sexy watch, but I would imagine that Spithill may not be using that; however it wouldn’t surprise me to see the tony visitors to the bay sporting them.

While this wasn’t the environment for hard-hitting investigations, Troublé did answer a question I’ve seen pop up in the America’s Cup Anarchy forums from time to time: How much involvement will LV have in the actual racing? The answer: Nada. From all of my conversations, it’s quite clear that the ACEA who manages, among other projects, the relationship with LV, the other sponsors, and the teams, is quite separate from Iain Murray’s AC Race Management. Bruno echoed this.

To back up a little….we learned a few weeks ago that the AC45 World Series will not be raced in San Francisco, but there’s been no official announcement of where it will be. The launch of the AC72 is scheduled to be in SF in September of 2012, but at the moment that’s the only announced venue for the AC72 World Series. The venues, according to what the ACEA director of marketing said, will be iconic, have wind, and be able to host the racing. We just don’t know precisely which cities they are. ACEA says that they are struggling with the number of cities who want an event and are working to whittle them down. I only hope that whittling process is not as….challenging…as the one they went through to choose the host city!

In the meantime the ACEA (the Event Authority) will be setting up shop in one of the piers, probably 27, and hiring a few people straightaway. They anticipate a slow ramp up to 2013. The most exciting tidbit I got today is they seem to be quite far along with talks with broadcasters internationally and have seen a lot of interest as a result of the new format.

At the moment, the announced teams so far are: Oracle, Mascalzone Latino (the Challenger of Record), Artemis (Sweden), Aleph (France) and two teams who are signed up but have not announced. Perhaps the combination of a lead regatta sponsor like Louis Vuitton and international media distribution will ramp up the entry list. One thing we know for sure: Whichever teams sign up and wherever the racing is, Mr. Trouble will be there, probably with a bottle of champagne, and he’ll be wearing his sporty watch, a smile, and carrying his Louis Vuitton briefcase for yet another America’s Cup.