14 Jun 2017

America's Cup: Whoever wins, Bermuda could lose

12:51 pm on 14 June 2017

The America's Cup could leave Bermuda, no matter which team wins the upcoming final race series.

America's Cup defender sails by the crowds on shore at Bermuda.

The America's Cup defender sails by the crowds on shore in Bermuda. Photo: ACEA 2017

Popular opinion in Bermuda is behind the defender, Oracle Team USA, largely because of the belief that it is committed to keeping the cup in the island nation, should it win.

The reality is understood to be very different, according to a report in Bermuda's daily newspaper The Royal Gazette.

The paper reports that elements within Oracle Team USA - and sister company America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA) - are cooling on the idea of returning.

Team New Zealand has made clear that if it wins, it will bring the regatta back to Auckland to defend it - a point that rankles with some Bermudians.

Instead of a future cup hosting, Bermuda is expected to be offered a stop on an expanded Louis Vuitton America's Cup World Series circuit, which has been proposed by the defender and four challengers, excluding Team New Zealand, according to the Gazette.

Crowds at the America's Cup Village in Bermuda.

Crowds at the America's Cup Village in Bermuda. Photo: Photosport NZ

The paper said there had been a stir behind closed doors following comments by Oracle owner Larry Ellison that the team "would be back", without being more specific about how and when.

The Bermuda government committed up to $US77 million to buy the hosting rights from ACEA, and to build infrastructure such as the Cup Village.

In a conversation with RNZ in April, Peter Durhager - chair of America's Cup Bermuda, which is overseeing the government's deal - said future cup hostings would still be subject to commercial negotiation.

The America's Cup has traditionally been taken "home" by the winner, but since landlocked Switzerland's Alinghi won it in Auckland in 2003, it's been a product for sale to the highest or best bidder.

Alinghi sold the rights to Valencia for the 2007 regatta, but lost the cup after a lengthy court battle with Oracle, and losing the one-sided catamaran versus giant-winged Trimaran duel.

Oracle Team USA defended it in Larry Ellison's "home town" San Francisco after considering other venues, but the city baulked at a new deal.

Mr Durhager told RNZ that Sir Russell Coutts had approached him with the idea of Bermuda making a pitch to host the event.

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