I have been asked by many people about the AC being in Chicago and I could not ever see how it was ever a real or even potential possibility. I’m guessing by the lack of any real information about the “Chicago Bid,” the team here never saw it as a real possibility either, but they did see a real potential for something. More on that later. Don’t get me wrong: Chicago is an awesome place to sail part of the time, and frankly I saw that as the biggest hurdle. Here’s my list of ‘issues’ with the Chicago AC:
1) Think about it…In almost every real AC with a Louis Vuitton Series, teams were setting up at the venue site 15+ Months in advance! It has been rumored they want to hold the Cup races in July..Do you really see AC-62’s or whatever they are sailing around Chicago during Strictly Sail Chicago? If you were here this year, you would have noticed one small issue with that…a foot-deep coating of glistening ice on the course.
2) Also, they have mentioned that Chicago has the facilities for teams and boats? I would like to know where that was going to be. The lakefront is pretty jammed up with harbors, beaches and Navy Pier, and I can’t see how there is room for these big beasts and their wings on the pier…go down there and check it out if you don’t believe me. Northerly Island? Well good luck with that…Either place would essentially have to be shut down and wow, would you need some very radical political support from the City, Mayor, Alderman, every tenant and business at Navy Pier etc…If someone was paying Chicago to host it would probably cost as much to fund both team NZL and Prada – and then some.
3) And what about the Race Area; is a 1.2 mile leg long enough for an AC62? For a 45 sure, but for the new AC boat that sails at 45 knots…I doubt it. What if the breeze is out of the west or out of the east as it has been for so much of this summer? Anyone feel like watching 300 yard upwind legs? Frankly, Oak Street Beach would be better.
4) $$$$$$….Where the hell is Chicago going to get the $ to host the Cup? We are maybe doing ok, but just barely…Frankly the money would have to come from the State and private backers and we know how that went in San Francisco. Not well.
5) No matter what they say about Chicago being a very serious consideration, I’m guessing that was all lip service and never was for the actual Cup. They released the three candidate Cities’ names and eliminated one pretty quickly – the ink had barely dried from the San Francisco elimination press release to the Chicago one. If you asked was Chicago a serious consideration for an AC-45 event…for sure! And in fact that would be a perfect fit without doubt, and I’m sure that is why Russell was here.
6) It makes perfect sense is for Chicago to host a AC-45 Event…Every reason above would not apply and frankly the 45, regatta is about a perfect fit, and that is not only doable, it would be simple and not cause too much disruption. It’s a two to three week deal. I have always said an AC-45 will be the consolation prize and frankly one that makes good and frankly the best commercial sense for all involved.
Going forward to Bermuda vs SD….Well for sure, SD will get it. Bermuda will get an AC45 event. The one thing Bermuda has going for it is government backing (they can do that since they are Bermuda), and no doubt it would be great boost for the economy, but logistically for the teams it will be a nightmare! The only local draw will be that of the locals.
The thing with SD is its “local to the rest of CA” and easy to get to from the rest of the US, and world for that matter, though Europe becomes a bit more problematic.. If it did go to Bermuda it would be a real first and make for a very different Cup that is for sure…Would that be bad? It’s a pretty nice place.
But if you think Coutts doesn’t know exactly where the next AC will be held, you’re crazy. It’s called ‘getting a jump on the design game’…SD and Bermuda…Think they have similar conditions? Not liklely.
It’s the same game that has been played for decades now. Not selecting a venue causes teams difficulty in raising money, putting challengers on their back foot…They now have another 5 months to keep people and syndicates guessing and losing time they need to study the conditions of the venue, to design and build the new boat. The guys at OR are not stupid, and they undoubtedly have confidentiality agreements with both locations to not leak anything.
Its all just logic…lets see how it all turns out, but not expecting any surprises nor should anybody else. The AC-45 is the real marketing deal from a global level, as the AC is a ‘one and done’ event rather than something that endures on an annual basis.