SAN FRANCISCO – While the announcement last week that an Olympic sailing facility will open at the Treasure Island Sailing Center was a bit nebulous in some respects, it did add more certainty to the general belief that Larry Ellison and Oracle Team USA are finished with the America’s Cup.
Sailing Illustrated hasn’t delved deeply into the Olympic Sailing Center announcement, mainly because of muddled messaging coming from the various entities involved in what’s going to be called FAST USA – the Facility for Advanced Sailing and Technology.
However, this much is clear, as per one of the handful of press releases about the center: “Oracle Racing, the sailing team of St. Francis Yacht Club member Larry Ellison, has donated its container-based America’s Cup facility – the one that housed the team in Bermuda – to US Sailing, and US Sailing will have the structures installed on Treasure Island within calendar 2018. They’ve been sitting in a warehouse in Oakland for months, waiting for the green light.”
As we’ve stated many times, never count Mr Ellison out. But this is another strong indication that Larry’s done, just as it was when skipper Jimmy Spithill, who skippered OTUSA to America's Cup victories in 2010 and 2013, signed on with Patrizio Bertelli's (ITA) Luna Rossa Challenge last month.
One of the backers of FAST USA is the St. Francis Sailing Foundation. While Mr Ellison is a member of StFYC, Oracle Team USA famously represented the neighboring Golden Gate Yacht Club, even if it did take the 35th Defense out of home waters and put it in Bermuda, where, as most of our Dear Readers will know, GGYC/OTUSA then lost badly to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron's Emirates Team NZ.
While a handful of teams are gearing up for the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland in 2021, and with a number of preliminary events being planned around the world in advance of the 2021 Cup, why would Mr Ellison otherwise be generously donating an entire container-based facility?
As reported here and elsewhere, Mr Ellison and his top sailing lieutenant, Russell Coutts, (NZL), are said to be preparing a circuit in the AC50 foiling catamarans, although indications now are that it won’t happen this year.
OTUSA owner Larry Ellison with the Cup after his team, representing the Golden Gate YC, successfully defended the Cup in San Francisco in 2013. Ed Lee, who was SF Mayor at the time and sadly has since passed away, is in the blue cap behind Mr Ellison. Norbert Bajurin, who was then and remains today the GGYC Commodore, is far left.