No Oracle announcement amid gaiety

Updated: February 15, 2010, 1:34 PM ET
Associated Press

VALENCIA, Spain -- The wing sail came down before some really strong winds came up, software tycoon Larry Ellison hopped on his private jet to get back to his day job and the sailors who reclaimed the America's Cup for the United States were still groggy after partying until just before dawn.

BMW Oracle Racing's sailors reconvened at their base late Monday afternoon for a photo shoot with the 159-year-old trophy perched on a table in front of a giant U.S. flag.

Plans for the next America's Cup often are announced the day after a team clinches the trophy. But BMW Oracle Racing CEO Russell Coutts said the syndicate hasn't had time to begin making plans for the 34th America's Cup, or even when the ornate silver trophy will be flown to its new home, San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club.

[+] EnlargeBMW/Oracle celebration
Pedro Armstre/AFP/Getty ImagesBMW Oracle's sweep of Alinghi returns America's Cup to the U.S. for the first time since 1995.

"It may surprise you, but we don't have any plans and I'm not sure you'd get anything sensible out of me anyway," Coutts said at a news conference.

The American-based crew reclaimed the oldest trophy in international sports by sailing their space-age trimaran to their second straight victory over two-time defending champion Alinghi of Switzerland on Sunday.

After the Cup was dragged through a bitter 2½-year court fight, BMW Oracle Racing officials say they want independent management of all the competitive aspects of the regatta.

"That's important that all of the competitors and commercial sponsors and so forth would know that the rules would be fair and equal for all competitors."

Ellison and Alinghi boss Ernesto Bertarelli fought over their interpretations of the 1887 Deed of Gift, which governs the America's Cup. Ellison's syndicate eventually prevailed, forcing the rare head-to-head showdown.

The America's Cup is expected to return to its normal system of several challengers competing for the right to face the defender. The Italian syndicate Mascalzone Latino -- the Latin Rascals -- will be the next Challenger of Record, helping to set the rules for the 34th America's Cup.

Ellison said Sunday night that no decisions have been made about a venue. Sailing a full regatta in San Francisco Bay could be difficult, and Ellison said the syndicate would need some kind of commitment from the city. It's possible that some preliminary rounds could be sailed overseas or in other U.S. ports.

Coutts, who's now won the America's Cup four times, said BMW Oracle Racing wants to get consensus from the rest of the competitors before deciding issues such as the class of boat that will be sailed.

Coutts said he felt strongly a few months ago that the Cup should return to being sailed in sloops, but admitted he was intrigued with the concept of sailing it in multihulls after the 90-by-90-foot American trimaran dueled an equally immense Swiss catamaran. Again, he said that's a decision still to be made.

The trimaran was powered by a radical, 223-foot wing sail that made it significantly faster than the catamaran. The wing was lowered from the trimaran after it returned to port Sunday night and moved into a temporary sail loft, a good move considering that Valencia was raked by strong winds Monday.

The syndicate had left the wing up even when the boat was in port, which required the shore crew watching it around the clock.

"For all of us on the sailing team, it still hasn't really hasn't sunk in," said Australian Jimmy Spithill, who at 30 became the youngest skipper to win the America's Cup. "It's good to be down here hanging out together as a group. The only downer is we don't get to sail the boat. It's such a cool boat to sail. I'm talking on behalf of the guys when I say that I really looked forward to sailing it every single day. It's one of those special boats that's just so rewarding."

Dennis Conner was pleased with the victory. A four-time America's Cup winner, he lost it to Coutts and Team New Zealand off San Diego in 1995. It hadn't been in American hands until Ellison won it back.

"The best team won!" Conner said in an e-mail to The Associated Press. "It was a well-deserved victory. The wing was faster and sailed well with no big mistakes."

Ellison, meanwhile, addressed the team following its victory, took a swig of champagne from the silver trophy and headed back to California to resume running Oracle Corp.

Coutts said he'd like to see some kind of nationality requirement returned to America's Cup rules. It was an interesting statement, considering that at one point there were four New Zealanders and one Australian sitting in front of the America's Cup taking questions from reporters.

Ellison and tactician John Kostecki of Reno, Nev., were the only Americans among the 11 crewmen who sailed the trimaran in the clinching race.

Coutts said BMW Oracle would be open to having a defender elimination series if other American syndicates stepped up.

Also Monday, BMW Oracle Racing spokesman Tom Ehman confirmed reports that three Swiss members of the race committee refused to help lower the postponement flags on Sunday when principal race officer Harold Bennett ordered the race prestart sequence to begin after a six-hour delay while waiting for the wind to settle.

Ehman was supposed to be a neutral observer on the race committee boat, but Bennett had to ask him to lower the postponement flag when the Swiss refused to. The Swiss apparently thought the waves were too high.


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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