The seven hills of Rome were due to roar today but instead could muster little more than the squeak of a mouse when the first major announcement about the next America's Cup was proclaimed in the majestic forum of the Musei Capitolini on the imperious Piazza del Campidoglio.
What the fans wanted, but those in the know did not expect, was a combined blueprint from the San Francisco-based holder, the Golden Gate Yacht Club and the official challenger, the Club Nautico di Roma. On the stage were Russell Coutts, who, in addition to a knighthood and an Olympic gold medal, has won the America's Cup four times for three different countries, and shipping magnate Vincenzo Onorato, owner of the Mascalzone Latino team.
No venue for the next event was announced – bids are still being considered from both the United States and Europe – nor even a date, though both 2013 and 2014 were put in the frame. The boats to be used are a matter of discussion between the defender and various potential challengers, though design work is being done on both a monohull and a multihull by Bruce Nelson and Peter Melvin due to be released by 30 September.
Give us more America's Cup info Francesco de Angelis tells Stuart Alexander:
That is a month after the protocol for the next Cup is to be published with both the regatta format and rules, plus a decision on the venue being announced on 31 December.
The challenge period will have opened in October, but closes on 31 January 2011, leaving some of the potential teams which have yet to put their funding together dismayed at how little time will be available.
They will also need to make decisions on where they establish their training bases. Also missing was any concrete structure for the event organisation group, though Coutts reaffirmed that the racing will be controlled “by an independent, neutral and professional authority.”
There is also the question of the commercial management of the event and the balance of participation by both the defender and the challengers. Given that Oracle won the Cup from the Swiss holder Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinghi nearly three months ago, the creation of new management is proceeding cautiously and if the eventual date for the next event is 2014 it will mean a seven-year gap between the last multi-challenger event in Valencia in 2007 and the opening of what had been hailed a new era.
Alinghi is keeping its America's Cup future under wraps until more detail of the next event becomes clear. It is also due to make a decision in the next four weeks over whether, possibly in partnership with Abu Dhabi, to compete in next year's Volvo round the world race.
The BMW Oracle team is bringing one of its old boats to Britain this summer to race against Team Origin in Cowes Week, including a race round the Isle of Wight for the 1850 Trophy to commemorate the original race won by America, the New York Yacht Club yacht which won the race to mark Queen Victoria's jubilee and gave its name to the event.
Origin, skippered by Ben Ainslie and headed by Sir Keith Mills, hopes to compete for the new cup annually, inviting a different America's Cup challenge team each year.