Australian John Bertrand is in San Francisco to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the first Louis Vuitton Cup. In 1983 Bertrand skippered Australia II to victory over the challengers in the inaugural Louis Vuitton Cup, before going on to become the first challenger to win the America's Cup in its 132-year history.
Bertrand remains a keen observer of the America's Cup and has been sailing on the AC45 catamarans used in the AC World Series. Speaking informally with the media on Saturday, he said the America's Cup remains the pinnacle sporting event in the world.
"From my perspective, the America's Cup is still the most prestigious sporting event in the world," he said. "It's quirky, it's different but it has been around longer than any other sporting event in modern history. And as a result it attracts the multi-billionaires of this era."
He says the appeal of being able to stamp your vision on an event with such a rich history and tradition is irresistible.
"Part of the nuance of the America's Cup is that if you win, you control the jewels. There's no other event where once you win you can change the game to a fair degree. So that's a big part of the intrigue. If you win the America's Cup you are launched globally. And it's been the same type of people involved in the 1920s, through the 1970s right through to today."
Bertrand says that's not the only thing that hasn't changed over time. He says the recent controversy over rudder changes implemented as part of the Regatta Director Safety Rules reminds him of the fuss the wing-keel on Australia II generated in 1983.
"Listening to the press conference yesterday, I was thinking we had keel-gate back then and we have rudder-gate now. So nothing has changed. The America's Cup is a high stakes game. There is politics involved. It's in the DNA of this event called the America's Cup. I kind of like the drama of what happened yesterday. This is the America's Cup.
"We're talking about people who have dedicated their lives for three or four years to this, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The stakes are high. If a team thinks there is even the smallest opportunity for gain by another team, they will try to shut that opportunity down. That's what the America's Cup is all about."