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Bermuda bid buoyed as San Francisco founders

Bermuda will learn by the end of this month if it has made the final round of bidding for the 2017 America's Cup.

Confirmation was made yesterday by Russell Coutts, the chief executive of Oracle Team USA, as he revealed that one bid had been eliminated.

Although Coutts, a frequent visitor to Bermuda during his love affair with winning the King Edward VII Gold Cup, declined to name the odd one out, it is understood that the San Francisco bid has fallen by the wayside.

San Francisco hosted the most exciting America's Cup of the modern era last year, when Jimmy Spithill's Oracle Team USA 17 came from seven races behind to break the hearts of Emirates Team New Zealand fans.

However, it has been known for some time that the city's bid was in difficulty, owing primarily to its refusal to offer terms as lucrative as those from San Diego, the favourite, Bermuda and Chicago, the mystery entry of the four.

San Francisco Bay, which boasts spectacular vistas such as the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz prison that bordered the first inshore race in the Cup's 163-year history, has arguably the best sailing conditions of the four bids.

But America's Cup officials are unhappy that San Francisco did not offer the same terms as last year — free rent for piers, as well as police, fire and other services. Officials also are opposed to the cost for construction work.

While last summer's regatta gave the America's Cup a remarkable adrenalin rush, it generated less economic impact in the Bay Area than what was projected and cost city taxpayers more than $5?million.

It is believed that the Bermuda bid contains tax breaks similar to what were offered when Team Allinghi, of Switzerland, defended the Cup in Valencia in 2007 and 2010 because Switzerland has no ocean coastline and it was not practical to race on Lake Geneva.

It meant that the Valencia races were the only occasions on which the defence of the Cup was held outside the country of the winning yacht.

A Bermuda race would create another precedent in that it would be the first time that an American defender has taken the venue from the United States.

The details of the Bermuda bid, which is headed by Grant Gibbons, the Minister of Economic Development, remain secret because of a confidentiality clause agreed with Oracle Team USA.

Apart from tthe Island's natural beauty, the Atlantic time zone is an added attraction, particularly for the European market, which is significant when considerations are made for television and potential sponsors.

It is that advantage that has also strengthened the notion that Chicago may be a viable alternative to San Diego, whose bid is the front-runner because of the city's experience of having hosted the America's Cup three times previously.

Meanwhile, Australia may be the challenger of record, but the British campaign was launched yesterday by Sir Ben Ainslie, who served as tactician during the critical stage of the American comeback last year.

Ainslie, Britain's most decorated Olympic sailor, has raised almost half of the £80?million that he believes is required to fund a successful challenge to his former employers. Other entries are expected from Italy, Sweden and, possibly, France.

At least six America's Cup World Series events will be held in 2015 and 2016 in the AC45 class of high-speed catamarans, which are distinctive for their hydrofoil technology that raises the craft out of the water.

The larger AC62 will be used for the qualifying event, the ensuing play-offs to decide the challenger and for the America's Cup match itself, which will held over a best-of-13 series.

The catamarans used for the 2017 America's Cup may be slightly smaller than Oracle Team USA 17 of last year's vintage, but the thrills and spills should be no less dramatic

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Published June 11, 2014 at 9:00 am (Updated June 10, 2014 at 11:17 pm)

Bermuda bid buoyed as San Francisco founders

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