SAN DIEGO (AP) — The Windy City got the heave-ho in the race to host the 2017 America’s Cup. Sailing’s marquee regatta is either headed back to San Diego or will be held on the northern tip of the Bermuda Triangle.
Russell Coutts, CEO of defending champion Oracle Team USA, said it was a tough decision to eliminate Chicago.
Despite Chicago’s nickname, “the variability of the wind was quite a major uncertainty for us,” Coutts told The Associated Press by phone Tuesday from his home in New Zealand.
Chicago will be offered the chance to host a stop on the America’s Cup World Series, a set of warmup regattas which will begin next year.
The America’s Cup has never been held on a lake. Lake Michigan’s wind is variable because it comes from weather systems rather than the thermal effect which helps generate sea breezes.
“I think it would make a fantastic venue,” Coutts said. “We just need to understand the wind conditions a lot better. Frankly, all the venues had pretty compelling commercial aspects, so it really came down to a choice of conditions.”
Coutts said he’ll begin negotiating host-city agreements with San Diego and Bermuda, with commercial support being a big part of any deal. He hopes to pick a winner by the end of September.
Organizers want to avoid unreliable breezes that delay races and harm the America’s Cup as a viable TV sport. The 62-foot wing sail catamarans picked for the next Cup are expected to pop up on hydrofoils in as little as 8 knots of breeze and skim across the tops of the waves.
If San Diego is chosen, racing would be on the bay, not miles offshore as it was during the America’s Cup in 1988, 1992 and 1995.
If Bermuda wins, racing would be close to shore on the Great Sound.
Bermuda is known to sailors for the Newport to Bermuda race and the Bermuda Gold Cup match-racing event.
Coutts says he would have no qualms in taking the America’s Cup to the island that gave the name to an area in the Atlantic Ocean known for mysterious disappearances of ships and airplanes.
“Well, it’s possible to get lost off the water in Bermuda,” Coutts said with a chuckle, perhaps referring to sailors hitting the pubs after racing.