Monday, December 21, 2009


Is February good for you? I sincerely hope so because I want as many of you as possible to get down to the America’s Cup port and cheer on BMW Oracle as they (hopefully) kick the stuffing out of Ernesto Bertarelli and his Team Alinghi.

Bertarelli who, five years ago showed vision and determination by selecting Valencia as the first European venue for an America’s Cup series in 2007and who went on to win the Cup for a second time. Bertarelli who, in his misplaced arrogance, dictated new terms for the next Cup series that many teams found unacceptable, leading to a series of court cases that have dragged on for two and a half years.

The event was scheduled to start on February 8th but has now been put back to Feb 12th to give both teams the chance to get their craft here (Alinghi from Ras Al Khaimah in the Arabian Gulf, BMW Oracle from San Diego,USA) and ‘up to speed’.

At this point, the main focus should be on how to stage the event in such a way as to create a new sense of excitement for the America’s Cup, a trophy which has been the subject of controversy ever since it was first awarded in 1851.

The two contending giant multihulls built for this one-off series are capable of speeds in excess of 80kph (50mph). Anyone who wants to view the event from the water will either need a very fast boat or some extremely powerful binoculars. Even then, things will happen so fast (by yachting standards, at least) that spectators will be left wondering what happened. The best bet may well be to watch the event on television. Even assuming this is an option, much of the excitement of the live action will still be lost.

A possible solution would be to mount television cameras in the tethered balloon, a feature of the 32nd Cup series, but with a racecourse 10 miles long and at least one mile from shore, the camera will need to be especially good. A better solution would be to use an airship, capable of following the action without the turbulence caused by helicopters (although these will certainly be in evidence).

On land, the America’s Cup port houses a giant screen, allowing visitors to get the atmosphere of the event. This needs to be able to accommodate a larger audience than before, since it should be the prime area for visitors keen to get a good ‘feel’ for what is going on at sea. The port might also consider building viewing platforms so that members of the public can get a closer look at these two monstrous craft as they prepare to do battle.

The spectator event itself should be organzised by Jorge Martinez Aspar of Valmor Sports as, heaven knows, he probably needs the cash after the poor turnout at Formula One Valencia. With one proviso, it must be affordable. No-one is going to pay huge sums of money for what could turn out to be a one-sided match. But they willl turn up if the price is right and they are promised the chance to hiss and boo Mr Bertarelli as he hands over the America’s Cup to the winners.

Mike O’Neill
21 Dec 2009
NB This article does not necessarily reflect the views of or its management.