Coutts to unveil future of America's Cup

The bumpy road that has been the America's Cup for the last three years is set to become more smooth in Valencia on Monday when Russell Coutts unveils plans to boost its future, including a new boat, a new format, the year in which it will be staged, and rules for the competitors.

The Cup is held by the San Francisco-based BMW-Oracle team, of which Coutts is ceo, and its Golden Gate Yacht Club after, in a 90-foot trimaran with a towering fixed wing sail, it blitzed the former holder, Switzerland's Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinghi team.

That move into multihulls, according to all the briefing and expectations, is expected to continue, along with a programme of races over the next three or four years, the possibility of split venues for eliminations and final challenge, and a competitor forum to air the views and wishes of all the potential challengers.

But the design rule for multihulls should be tight enough to allow close boat on boat racing rather than a boffin-driven drag race for speed.

What will not be announced is the venue as complex negotiations continue with a problematical San Francsico, Italy, home of the challenger of record, Vincenzo Onorato's Mascalzone Latino, Valencia, which has an existing, purpose-built harbour, though a problem for tall-rig multihulls, with Portugal and the Middle East also in veiled background contention. A decision is scheduled before 31 December.

What claims to be the longest-contested trophy in international sport, it began life in 1851 in a race around the Isle of Wight - the Doggett's Coat and Badge rowing race on the Thames precedes it by 136 years - and has been the subject of often bitter wrangling ever since.

That reached one of its landmark lows when Oracle, backed by one of America's richest men, Larry Ellison, decided that Bertarelli's vision for the future, after successfully defending in 2007, was unacceptable. The recourse was to the New York courts and, after the lawyers pocketed enough to fund a pair of America's Cup teams, Oracle won the sole right to challenge in their chosen multihull.

In the end, what was called a DoG match - DoG standing for deed of gift and referring to the original event protocol set up by the New York Yacht Club in the late 1800s - was yawningly one-sided. Oracle's real problem was not the opposition but keeping in one piece a hugely ballsy gamble of a wing mast which was threatened with being ripped apart by high winds when moored overnight.

That is one of the factors which will have been considered when deciding the boat design rules, but one which would not be a problem for challengers like Britain's Team Origin, skippered by a Ben Ainslie who was knocked out of the Danish regatta of the World Match Race Tour before the semi-finals. He finally fell to New Zealand's Adam Minoprio, not least because he was so incensed at incurring a penalty that he threw his own penalty flag at Minoprio and incurred another one. Ainslie can be an angry man.

But, looking ahead to the America's Cup he knows that aeronautical engineering and science expertise in the UK is extensive, as it is in France. In their separate ways, the more pressing problem for both is money.

As for timing, the longer the better to raise cash and the shorter the better to put back on the road a show that has to rebuild general interest and has alienated many of the faithful. Next year is impossible, the proximity of the Olympics makes 2012 more problematical than needs to be tackled, so 2013 would be logical if the venue has time and money to be ready, 2014 if more time is needed.

What has yet to be tackled is a nationality rule. There is some support for making the entries national, rather than crews being drawn from the international market. Coutts is a Kiwi, his skipper, James Spithill, is Oz and, at the victory press conference in Valencia in 2007, one American journalist pointed out that there was not one American on a platform backed by a giant Stars and Stripes.

The Volvo round the world is in the 2014 calendar, but not until late in the year and next year's Volvo race has so far attracted only five announced new boats.The key may lie in an America's Cup World Series, mandatory for all challengers, who have to start thinking about writing cheques between 1 October and 31 January for €1.5m of entry fee and US3m. of performance bond.

Oracle, which is investing heavily in developing television techniques and race track formats which will attract a bigger worldwide audience, is calling for six to eight regattas a year in Europe, the US and Australasia. By setting up what would a long-discussed annual world championship, the series would be used to grow the event. It would also allow many venues that do not want to stage a complete Cup elimination and final series, to bid for individual events.

British team boss Sir Keith Mills has already said he would like to see the tour come to the Cup's country of origin.

Oracle and Coutts have promised that the principle goal is not just to return the America's Cup to some semblance of normality but to make it fair for both defender and challengers and to attract a hugely increased mainstream audience. Monday will speak volumes.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links