June 12 (Reuters) - San Francisco has been ruled out as host for the next America’s Cup in 2017, according to a statement on the official regatta website.
San Francisco hosted the event last year, when holders Team Oracle USA produced a remarkable comeback from 8-1 down to retain the world’s oldest sporting trophy in a winner-takes-all final 17th race against Team New Zealand.
“Although it is time for the America’s Cup to move on for the next edition in 2017, San Francisco will always be a chapter in the America’s Cup story,” a statement read on the regatta website (www.america’s cup.com).
“The America’s Cup community would like to take this opportunity to thank San Francisco for providing such an iconic backdrop to some of the best racing in Americas Cup history last summer.”
The statement followed a report in the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper that the city would not be considered to host the event in 2017.
Team Oracle chief executive Russell Coutts had written to San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee informing him of the decision, the newspaper reported.
“Given the tight timeline and demands from prospective teams to confirm the final venue, it has been necessary to continue reducing the shortlist of candidate cities,” Coutts wrote.
“We have therefore taken the difficult decision to no longer consider San Francisco as a possible candidate to host AC35.”
Oracle and the challengers’ of record, Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club, issued the new protocols for the 2017 event last week.
Among the new protocols, the event will be sailed with a similar but smaller version of the 72-foot (21.94-metre), wing-sail catamarans used in 2013.
The new 62-foot boats, called AC62s, will be crewed by eight people, three fewer than last year.
Nationality rules have also been introduced with at least two of the eight crew members having to be nationals of the country of the yacht club represented.
Oracle’s Olympic gold medallist tactician Ben Ainslie, who was seen as pivotal in helping the holders dig themselves out of a hole, has since left the syndicate and launched his own British challenge on Tuesday.
Team New Zealand, who are partially government funded, are still evaluating whether or not to enter the next event after expressing reservations about the lack of clarity of a venue as they seek global sponsorship. (Editing by John O‘Brien)