After yesterday’s decisive America’s Cup race, there are some sore heads here in Valencia this morning-and others are licking their wounds. Larry Ellison and his victorious BMW Oracle crew partied hard into the night after successfully wresting the famous trophy from the reluctant hands of the Swiss holders on Sunday. It was a fight that began back in 2007 with cries of foul play and demands for a level playing field by the challengers, after two-time Cup winner Ernesto Bertarelli and his Alinghi team attempted to establish a Formula 1-style commercial race series, but with rules heavily slanted in the defender’s favor. That led to the straight fight between Ellison and Bertarelli, two super-rich pugilists, who between them have spent the equivalent of $1 million per minute of race time.
After nine court cases and 250,000 man-hours spent building two of the most technically advanced race yachts in history, these teams embarked on this classic best-of-three series. At the end however, the Swiss catamaran Alinghi was no match for the mighty wing-masted American multihull, which swept away all opposition with a convincing 2-0 victory.
Yet the machinations of the Swiss continued right to the end. The three Swiss members of the race committee did not want the second race to start, claiming that the swell was too big. Principal Race Officer Harold Bennett, a no-nonsense Kiwi, would have none of it, and two of the Swiss committee went on strike. “Their multihull expert was telling me that the swells were too big, yet all I could see were flat seas,” Bennett confirmed today. “The time came to pull the postponement flag down and commence the start sequence, and the two refused. [BMW Oracle Observer] Tom Ehman went back and pulled the flag down, and we set about running the race without them. Only their time-keeper stayed at his post. We got the race off-and what a race it turned out to be!”
Bennett confirmed today that he will be reporting the incident to the International Yacht Racing Union. This matter may not yet be dead.
Ellison confirmed today that the Golden Gate YC had accepted a challenge from the Italian yacht club Mascalzone Latino in Rome, led by Vincenzo Omorato, but it was too early to say where the next Cup series will be sailed or in what type of boat. Asked if he was thinking of taking the Cup back to his home club in San Francisco, or to Newport, Rhode Island, he said, “I think we are open to considering a lot of options. We will talk to San Francisco, to Valencia ..Valencia have been fantastic hosts to the last two America’s Cups. One thing I would like to assure people about the 34th America’s Cup. There be a completely independent jury, there will be a completely independent umpires. It will be an independent group which manages the next America’s Cup and there will be a level playing field for all competitors.”