Larry Ellison envisions America’s Cup stage moving to Hawaii

In a book excerpt, the technology tycoon say he'd like for the 35th America's Cup to be raced off Honolulu, while also detailing his vision for a grand, global expansion of the build-up series.

10th: Larry Ellison, $58.5bn (software). Stephen Dunn / Getty Images / AFP
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Software billionaire Larry Ellison says in a book excerpt that he’d like to have the next America’s Cup in Hawaii, although his sailing team CEO says officials are still in the process of picking a venue.

According to an edited excerpt posted on the San Francisco Chronicle’s website Monday, Ellison’s vision is for the 35th America’s Cup match to be sailed off Honolulu following a series of eliminations around the world.

“That’s the plan, anyway,” Ellison was quoted as saying in the excerpt from the paperback edition of “The Billionaire and the Mechanic: How Larry Ellison and a Car Mechanic Teamed Up to Win Sailing’s Greatest Race, the America’s Cup, Twice” by Chronicle writer Julian Guthrie.

“We have a lot of work to do. We have to make deals with all the cities where we want to hold races. It’s not going to be easy to pull this off. All that, plus we have to get an agreement with the Challenger of Record, the Hamilton Island Yacht Club of Australia.”

The excerpt said Ellison detailed his vision for the next America’s Cup in a series of exclusive interviews with Guthrie over several months.

Ellison’s syndicate, Oracle Team USA, successfully defended the America’s Cup with one of the greatest comebacks in sports, winning eight straight races against Emirates Team New Zealand on San Francisco Bay in September to rally from an 8-1 deficit.

Russell Coutts, the CEO of Oracle Team USA, said in an email to The Associated Press that while Hawaii is one of the venues being considered, “I can honestly say there are no favourites at this stage.”

Coutts said Oracle Team USA has sent formal requests for information to several cities and plan to narrow the field to about three.

“I’d hope to have a final venue selection at the end of the summer,” Coutts said.

San Francisco’s chances of hosting the next America’s Cup in August 2017 appear to be all but dead. Coutts told the AP in late January that he was unhappy that San Francisco officials weren’t offering the same terms as last year, including free rent for piers as well as police, fire and other services. Cup officials also are opposed to paying the equivalent of union wages for construction work.

Besides Hawaii, the only other confirmed potential venue is San Diego, which hosted the America’s Cup in 1988, 1992 and 1995. Coutts skippered Team New Zealand to a 5-0 sweep of Dennis Conner off San Diego in 1995.

While not confirmed, other ports believed in the mix are Long Beach, California; Newport, Rhode Island, another former home of the America’s Cup; and Chicago, which might be considered for a warmup regatta called the America’s Cup World Series rather than the America’s Cup match.

Hawaii’s chances of hosting the America’s Cup match and perhaps the final of the challenger elimination series appear to be good because of the relationship between Ellison and Governor Neil Abercrombie.

Ellison, the CEO of Oracle Corp, bought 98 per cent of Lanai in 2012 and has spent millions of dollars on renovating two resorts there. He has plans for further development on what’s also known as Pineapple Island.

Abercrombie spoke glowingly last summer about Ellison’s involvement with Lanai.

In January, Coutts told the AP that while he hadn’t had conversations with Abercrombie, he expected that Ellison had.

Lanai currently lacks the infrastructure to host an America’s Cup, and many sailors believe the waves are too big in the channel between Lanai and Maui for the 60-foot catamarans planned for the next America’s Cup. That would make Honolulu a more likely venue.

In the book excerpt, Ellison said he expects 12 teams entered in the 35th America’s Cup, divided into Atlantic and Pacific divisions. The Atlantic division would have teams from France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Sweden, and Switzerland while Pacific Division would have teams from Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and the United States.

Regattas would be held around the world in 45-foot catamarans in 2015 and 2016, leading to division championships in 60-foot cats in the spring of 2017. Ellison envisions the Atlantic Division championship being held off Rome and the Pacific Division championship in Shanghai, according to the excerpt. Those winners would face off in Honolulu for the right to meet Oracle Team USA in the 35th America’s Cup.

The excerpt didn’t explain how Oracle Team USA could sail in the early rounds while already being assured of a spot in the America’s Cup match.

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