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'Sailing changed forever' after Cup classic: Ellison

26 september 2013, 12:04
0
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. ©AFP
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison. ©AFP
Billionaire yachtsman Larry Ellison said the thrilling America's Cup series had changed the face of the sport after his Oracle Team USA completed a miraculous comeback on Wednesday, AFP reports.

The 34th edition of the prestigious yacht race had threatened to descend into chaos earlier this year following the decision to switch to the super-fast AC72 catmarans.

The tragic death of British Olympic gold medalist Andrew "Bart" Simpson during a training run in May heightened concerns over the safety of the boats used for the America's Cup.

Ellison said however that the move to AC72s had been vindicated by the dramatic finale to the race.

"There was a lot of criticism about these boats," Ellison said.

"I felt I should keep my mouth shut and let the boats and the sailors demonstrate whether the vision was right or wrong.

"This regatta has changed sailing forever," Ellison said. "It was the most beautiful regatta I have ever seen."

Many now wonder if the sport will ever return to using slower yachts.

"This is absolutely off-the-graph," said Richard Spindler of West Coast sailing magazine Latitude38. "This is the most exciting yacht racing ever seen, inside the Cup or out."

"I think the AC72s have found a sweet spot with the people," said regatta director Iain Murray. "They were challenging, exciting, and provided a great platform for these races."

As winner, Ellison will get to dictate the location and types of boats used in the next America's Cup.

"I'd love to come back to San Francisco; I have a house here," Ellison said. "But we are going to sit down and talk to the officials in San Francisco and see if it will be possible to come back."

He joked that the next Cup would be around the Hawaiian Island of Lanai, which he recently bought.

Ellison, ranked third richest person in the United States due to his business software company Oracle, is believed to have poured more than $100 million into the team.

"It costs about the same to win as to lose, and it is certainly better to win the Cup," Ellison said while skirting precisely how much he spent to keep the trophy.

"I don't think anyone thinks about the money."

He even paid US television giant NBC to broadcast coverage of Cup races.

Ellison packed his team with Olympic gold medal winners and sailing icons such as Russell Coutts and Ben Ainslie.

The technology industry titan, whose personal fortune is estimated at some $40 billion (30.6 billion euros, 26.3 billion pounds) first won the Cup three years ago in Spain.

He brought the regatta to San Francisco, on a tight course bounded by iconic landmarks including Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge.

The financial benefit of the Cup to the city had yet to be tabulated, but climbed as the regatta stretched to an unprecedented 19 days.

More than one million people visited the America's Cup Park set up on a pier at the race course finish, according to California Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, who backed Ellison's bid for San Francisco host the regatta.

"Team USA's imagination and innovation democratized a once unreachable sport for the fans by holding the races in San Francisco Bay, developing exciting new technologies and creating a television experience second to none," Newsom said.

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