America's Cup going offshore as British territory Bermuda beats San Diego to host 2017 regatta

Government And Institutions Associated Press

The British territory of Bermuda has beaten San Diego for the right to host the 2017 America's Cup, organizers announced Tuesday.

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The decision was made two weeks ago by billionaire Larry Ellison of Oracle Corp. after consulting with Russell Coutts, the CEO of Oracle Team USA and director of the America's Cup Event Authority.

It was announced Tuesday at a New York hotel by Harvey Schiller, the former USOC executive director who is the America's Cup commercial commissioner.

This will be the first time a U.S. defender holds the America's Cup outside the United States. It also will be the first time in the regatta's 163-year history that a defender sails the races in foreign waters by choice rather than necessity.

The choice of the island some 640 miles off North Carolina is intriguing, from its location at the northern tip of the Bermuda Triangle to the financial incentives being offered to regatta participants, including tax breaks.

Bermuda Premier Michael Dunkley said the next America's Cup would provide "a dash of British charm with our own unique island culture."

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He mentioned a temperate climate, the sailing conditions, an optimum time zone for television broadcasts and an "intimate and unmatched setting and maritime legacy," as well as "crystal blue waters and pink sand beaches."

Organizers did not announce any new sponsors or a TV deal, but said Chicago will host a stop on the America's Cup World Series, which are warmup regattas in smaller boats than those that will sail for the oldest trophy in international sports.

Since word leaked two weeks ago of Ellison's decision, traditionalists have criticized taking the America's Cup out of the United States.

Tuesday's announcement culminates a yearlong process during which 2013 host San Francisco was eliminated because Coutts was unhappy that had the racing returned there, organizers would have to pay for services they had previously received for free.

Most challengers felt the America's Cup should have returned to San Francisco because of the steady wind that blows in through the Golden Gate Bridge. Once San Francisco was eliminated, many challengers expressed support for San Diego over Bermuda, feeling it would be a logistical nightmare to take the competition offshore.

There has also been speculation that the choice of Bermuda could be the end of powerhouse Emirates Team New Zealand, which relies on government funding and sponsors that would get more value from a regatta in the United States than Bermuda.

This is the second time Coutts has taken the America's Cup from the United States. In 1995, he skippered Team New Zealand to a five-race sweep of Dennis Conner off San Diego, just the second time that a foreign challenger beat an American team. Coutts went on to win the America's Cup five times, for three different countries. Two of them have been as CEO of Oracle Team USA, which staged one of the biggest comebacks in sports to beat Team New Zealand in 2013.

Troy Sears, a key member of San Diego's bid committee, congratulated Bermuda for landing the America's Cup.

"I believe the decision was a relatively easy one to make as there are significant differences between the two cities," Sears said. "Much has been said about the tax advantages of Bermuda, but it can easily be said that California taxation is very high and makes it difficult to bring an event to California. More importantly, California regulations were a major obstacle to try to overcome for the America's Cup."

San Diego has hosted the America's Cup three previous times.

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