10. TO EUROPE

Shortly after winning the America’s Cup, the Société Nautique de Genève (SNG) accepted a challenge from the Golden Gate Yacht Club, putting the wheels in motion for the 32nd America’s Cup. A new Protocol was issued, detailing the plans for the next event and outlining some of the changes. It was immediately clear that the move to Europe would mean a sea change for the America’s Cup. Taking advantage of what some perceived to be a problem for the new Defender, the SNG announced that it would take its time to decide upon a venue, drafting up a selection criteria that would ensure reliable sailing conditions.

The nationality rules were abolished, freeing up teams to sign the best people regardless of their passport, and rules on the transfer of technology from prior syndicates were eased to enable new teams access to old information. Most importantly, a new organising authority, AC Management, was created and charged with the task of overseeing all aspects of the 32nd America’s Cup including the Challenger Selection Series. In short, a new era of the America’s Cup had dawned.

The 32nd America’s Cup in Valencia, Spain was a success on many levels. By bidding out the city, the organising authority was able to raise revenue on a scale previously unimagined. A four-year programme of racing took America’s Cup racing to other European venues, drumming up interest in the event. And teams from new territories, like South Africa and China, added to the international flavour of the racing.

Emirates Team New Zealand, rejuvenated behind the leadership of Grant Dalton, won the Louis Vuitton Cup to set up a rematch against Alinghi. But although the Kiwis won a couple of races and lost another by just one second, the Swiss Defender proved to be too strong and retained the title.