37th America’s Cup Diary
Venue negotiations: Rumours and leaks | Sailor announcements: Look who’s back
Although there has been little in the way of official announcements from the America’s Cup world it appears there has been plenty going on behind the scenes.
Venue negotiations: Rumours and leaks
The countdown to the announcement of the venue for the 37th America’s Cup is now ticking loudly and inexorably towards the scheduled March 31 deadline set by the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand.
Although ETNZ has maintained a strict silence about which cities could be on the final shortlist to host the next edition of yachting’s most venerated regatta, over recent days there has been a flurry of unofficial information about who is or isn’t in the running.
First up, Valencia. According to a letter leaked to a mainstream newspaper in Spain – the Spanish city has been officially informed by ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton that negotiations around its bid will go no further.
The leaked letter reportedly cited the lack of financial support the city had received from the Spanish government as the reason Valencia had been eliminated from the running.
The news that the host city for the wildly successful 32nd America’s Cup back in 2007 had been rejected comes as a bit of a surprise – if only because the Real Club Nautico Valencia had already announced back in September of last year that the city was withdrawing from the running to host AC37 because of a lack of official support.
The fact that the ‘Dear John’ letter from Dalton is undated gives rise to questions as to whether it is actually a new development – or perhaps instead was written when the Kiwis told Valencia “thanks, but no thanks” back in September last year.
Either way, Valencia’s mayor Joan Ribó has been reported as issuing a warning to a fellow Spanish city Malaga over the cost of hosting the America’s Cup. Ribó said Valencia was willing and able to host the next Cup, “but not at any cost”.
“If you have the resources to do it, as many of you want, then it's your business,” he told Malaga mayor Francisco de la Torre.
“We have always offered the infrastructure, which is among the best in the world, and the services that the city council can provide, but the economic resources seem very important to dedicate to more urgent issues at this time."
The Valencia mayor went on to accuse ETNZ of auctioning the hosting of the America’s Cup off to the highest bidder.
Then, this weekend, Spanish media reported that the central government delegate for Malaga, Javier Salas, had told de la Torre that his plan to secure financing from the State to aid Malaga’s candidacy to host the America’s Cup had failed.
“The government doesn't have the responsibility of financing Malaga city hall's supposed aspirations to host the America’s Cup, because it escapes our area of competence," the delegate is reported to have said.
While Valencia had in place much of the infrastructure and space required to host the America’s Cup, Malaga was reportedly relying on government funding of up to 30 million Euro to extend a section of the city’s port in order to create a suitable area for the America’s Cup team bases.
According to Spanish media reporting, Spain’s Ministry of Culture would be willing to grant the America’s Cup special status to award event sponsors ‘tax advantages’ – but would ‘not invest a single Euro’ to back the bid.
With Valencia and Malaga apparently now out of contention Spain’s only hope of hosting the 37th America’s Cup rests on the bid from the Catalonian city of Barcelona.
Organisers of the Barcelona bid have always been more bullish about securing central government funding to bring the America’s Cup to Spain – even claiming to have had the thumbs up from the country’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez.
Back in September last year the group went on record as saying:
“We can confirm that our discussions with Team New Zealand and ACE (America’s Cup Events) continue to advance forward very positively with the backing of the Prime Minister of Spain and the central Spanish Government continuing to work with us to finalise details and event proposals.”
Outside Spain, there has been no word on the status of bids from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Cork, Ireland – although the Saudi option is rumoured to be unpopular with most of the teams.
Meanwhile, back in New Zealand a last ditch attempt by a group of local business leaders to force ETNZ to host the 37th America’s Cup in Auckland appears to have fallen on deaf ears.
The self-styled Kiwi Home Defence Group’s PR campaign – managed by Auckland’s Topham Guerin agency – featured video pleas by prominent New Zealand’s to keep the Cup in NZ, but appears to have gained little to no traction on social media.
So, with just a few weeks left now until the venue announcement deadline America’s Cup, the events fans and the participating teams are none the wiser over where the 37th America’s Cup will be held.
Sailor announcements: Look who’s back
The defender Emirates Team New Zealand has shared the most about its sailing team line-up for the 37th America’s Cup. The Kiwi team announced last week the six-strong core squad of sailors that will spearhead the team’s attempt to defend the Cup for a second consecutive time.
Peter Burling steps up from the ETNZ helmsman role in the last America’s Cup to skipper for AC36. Racing alongside him will be ETNZ veterans Glenn Ashby, Blair Tuke, Andy Maloney, and Josh Junior, along with recent signing Nathan Outteridge. The team’s grinders/cyclors are yet to be announced.
It does not take too much of a stretch to imagine the powerful potency of Burling and Outteridge in a dual helmsman scenario backed up on either side of the New Zealand AC75 by Tuke and Ashby respectively .
Meanwhile, the Challenger of Record Ineos Britannia has this week announced that powerhouse grinder Matt Gotrel has re-signed with the team for a second campaign.
Once a member of the British Youth Sailing Team competing in the 29er and 49er classes, Gotrel switched sports to rowing and went on to win a gold medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“It’s a huge honour and a thrilling challenge to be part of INEOS Britannia’s America’s Cup campaign again,” Gotrel said. “Our goal is clear: to make history and be a part of the first British team to win the Auld Mug.”
Gotrel joins skipper and team principal Ben Ainslie, double Olympic gold medalist Giles Scott, and fellow grinding team mate Neil Hunter as the sailors announced by the British team.
Little new has been heard from the other challenging teams about their sailor line-ups.
Alinghi are yet to announce who will race alongside helmsman Arnaud Psarofaghis and mainsail trimmer Bryan Mettraux, while NYYC American Magic has so far confirmed only skipper Terry Hutchinson (although Britain’s Paul Goodison has revealed that he has signed on again with the US team for AC37).
Likewise, the Italian Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli syndicate has made no official announcements about their sailing team – although Max Sirena appears to be highly active in his familiar non-sailing skipper role.
Unofficially, however, it seems that the team’s two helmsmen from America’s Cup 36 have been retained for another campaign.
According to an article in the Italian newspaper La Gazzetta, Bruni and Spithill have been signed on again for Luna Rossa and apparently have been spending long hours together on the team’s AC75 simulator.
The La Gazzetta article – written by Gian Luca Pasini – goes on to suggest that Luna Rossa has reached out to the retired Italian cyclist Mario Cipollini to discuss options around cyclors for the 37th America’s Cup.