Congratulations to US software magnate Larry Ellison’s BMW Oracle team who swept to an easy victory in the best of three series to win the America’s Cup. After 30-months of wrangling in US courtrooms for the right to race head-to-head with America’s Cup defender Alinghi, backed by biotechnology tycoon Ernesto Bertarelli, BMW Oracle proved to the sailing community that they did indeed have the fastest boat and one that deserved to win the America’s Cup.
Those that visited Valencia to grab a glimpse of either yacht, could only be impressed by the size, shape and technology that has moved the America’s Cup from a mono-hull competition to a multi-hull event. Detractors would say that the series should have stayed as a mono-hull competition but technology and the need for speed, has moved on and, these innovations are certainly the shape of things to come in modern hull design. But, in terms of the America’s Cup, the competition has certainly lost much of its charm and only time will tell if the next competition will be able to attract as much interest as the series did back in 2007.
In an interview with the BBC, Professor Tom Cannon, from the University of Liverpool Management School perceives the America’s Cup as an event that “has been reduced from a very major event to a minor one.” He noted that “There is an enormous contrast between what happened three years ago and now. Then, it was an enormous event, and it was the third-largest sporting event after the football World Cup and the Olympics in terms of gross economic impact. Now we have gone from a sport worth billions to the local economy, yachting in general and in terms of technological development, to a sideline event.”
In terms of pure sailing and design, BMW Oracle certainly lead the way for others to follow and everyone else in the sailing world will probably be heading back to their drafting boards to look at new designs. It’s estimated that the overall cost to each team was in the region of $200 million and typically, much of this would be covered by sponsorship from major companies. Professor Cannon emphasised that because of the lack of a challenger series, which last time attracted eleven challengers from 9 countries along with major sponsorship opportunities, the overall economic impact was probably about one tenth of the 5bn euros ($7bn; £4.4bn) it was worth last time. The long-weekend event was not a draw for TV Companies or advertisers, with the races being shown on the Internet for the first time and the organising budget reduced from a record 230-million to just eight million euros for last week’s event!
The host city of Valencia was possibly the biggest loser, in terms of what might have been. The 2007 event was a major attraction for tourists, sponsors, clients, business and the media bringing benefits of over two billion euros to the port and almost four billion euros net economic benefit for Valencia. This year, coverage on Spanish TV was very limited and with the event now finished, Carnival fiestas from Rio, the Canaries and around Spain totally eclipsed the couple of minutes seen about the America’s Cup.