Sep 14, 2010 at 05:45 PM
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America's Cup Shakes Up Format; Looks to Enhance Commercial Appeal

The America’s Cup, sailing’s premier event, has released a new format ahead of the 34th Match in 2013 that is designed to boost its awareness, appeal and commercial viability.

An analysis of the best practices in other major sports and six months of dialogue with potential teams and stakeholders resulted in the transformed competition details that were released today.

The AC72 class will be raced from 2012, and a second new boat will be used in next year’s competition for the America’s Cup World Series. Also powered by a wingsail, the AC45 is a scaled down one-design version of the AC72, and will provide a fast-track for competitors in wingsail technology.

To build interest and audiences ahead of the 34th Match in 2013, a new annual World Series will be launched in 2011 and a new Youth America’s Cup will start in 2012.

“We believe this new format and new boat will put the America’s Cup back at the pinnacle of our sport. These changes will give equal opportunity to competitors and long-term economic stability to all teams and all commercial partners. We promised fairness and innovation and this is what we’ve delivered,” said Russell Coutts, CEO of BMW ORACLE Racing.

In addition, the America's Cup media model will also get a comprehensive makeover. For the first time onboard cameramen will be able to cover the action, in a move designed to enhance the television broadcasts and internet content.

“During our six months of planning we spoke to the teams, to commercial partners, to media and to the fans. A clear and compelling vision emerged – that to capture and communicate the excitement our sport can produce, we need the best sailors racing the fastest boat in the world,” Coutts said.

In an effort to develop the next generation of best sailors, the new AC45 will be used for the Youth America’s Cup beginning in 2012, a new initiative to provide young sailors a pathway to the America’s Cup.

A shorter racing schedule, the economic downturn and a global feud between Larry Ellison, chief executive of Oracle Corp., and arch-rival Ernesto Bertarelli it was reported earlier this year contributed to driving millions of dollars in sponsorship money away from one of the world's premier sporting events.

The venue for the 34th America's Cup match is scheduled to be announced by the end of the year. San Francisco is in competition with Valencia and an undisclosed Italian port to be the cup's host city.