America's Cup regatta may return to San Francisco in 2017

Tue Dec 24, 2013 12:03am EST
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By Ronnie Cohen

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Oracle Team USA wants to stage the next America's Cup regatta in San Francisco in August 2017 in catamarans smaller than the one they sailed to victory last summer, team CEO Russell Coutts told Reuters on Monday.

Oracle Corp CEO Larry Ellison's team notched eight successive wins over Team New Zealand in September, coming from behind to take the 34th America's Cup in one of the sport's most remarkable comebacks.

The event's victor wins the right to choose the venue. Coutts wants to return the regatta to the Northern California city's waterfront, and hopes to convince civic leaders to agree to host the event a second time.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on Monday sent a letter to Coutts opening negotiations. The city and Oracle have a number of details to sort out and the board of supervisors must approve any deal.

Numerous hurdles remain before Ellison can reach an agreement with the city, including convincing critics of the economic benefits for the city, which turned out less than initially estimated.

Some supervisors criticized the last arrangement between the city and Ellison as being too generous to the event organizers.

But "the 34th America's Cup generated hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity for San Francisco, created thousands of jobs and showcased our spectacular waterfront, the beauty of San Francisco Bay and the sport of sailing to millions of spectators around the world," Lee wrote in his letter.

Yet controversy dogged this year's event. Critics questioned the safety of the faster, high-tech 72-foot catamarans sailed in the last America's Cup, particularly after a sailor died in a tragic accident.   Continued...

Members of Oracle Team USA wave to spectators after winning Race 16 of the 34th America's Cup yacht sailing race against Emirates Team New Zealand in San Francisco, California September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Stephen Lam