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Friday, September 15, 2017
Oracle Team USA won't be at America's Cup in Auckland

Sir Russell Coutts has indicated that Oracle Team USA boss Larry Ellison won't be contesting the next America's Cup, in Auckland.

Cup historian Bob Fisher, mulling over the news of a monohull returning to the Cup scene in 2021, looked at the ramifications for potential challengers and indicated the two-time winning American team wouldn't feature.

"Russell Coutts, now back in Auckland, has stated in an e-mail to me: 'My understanding is that Oracle/Larry will not be entering'," Fisher wrote for Yachts and Yachting in the UK.

Oracle won the Cup in 2010 sailing a giant trimaran against Alinghi's catamaran. They then defended the Cup in 2013 in San Francisco in 72-foot catamarans, winning the match against Emirates Team New Zealand in a dramatic comeback.

Team New Zealand got their revenge in Bermuda this year in a lop-sided final sailed in 50-foot foiling catamarans.

Kiwi sailing great Coutts oversaw all three of those campaigns though he gave up a role on the boat, employing Australian Jimmy Spithill to take the helm and skipper the team.

Coutts has now returned to Auckland and is commodore of the Mainly Sailing Club.

Spithill has indicated he is keen to carry on in the America's Cup and gain revenge for this year's loss.

Fisher covered off the looming strict nationality rule that is likely to be implemented when Team New Zealand and challenge of record Luna Rossa unveil the protocol for 2021 in Auckland later this month.

"Dean Barker may not be able to find a sailing berth if the nationality rule is as tough as it is promised," Fisher wrote, predicting struggles for the Japan and Swedish syndicates who sailed in Bermuda with largely foreign crews.

There has been speculation that Richard DeVos, a co-founder of Amway and owner of the Orlando Magic NBA team, could mount an American challenge.

Fisher concluded that Australia were likely to re-enter the Cup. This could be a likely avenue for Spithill and the strong core of Australians who were part of Oracle and other syndicates to carry on in the competition.

"There must be a challenge from neighbouring Australia, even if the country's number one technical sailor, Glenn Ashby, is otherwise committed," Fisher wrote.

"The man who broke the American hold on the Cup, John Bertrand, was seen in Bermuda. I was able to ask him, over a drink in the Royal Bermuda YC, whether or not he was thinking of leading a challenge and a wry smile came over his face as he denied more than a passing interest. His presence at AC35, however, leads one to believe he will be part of one of the Australian challenges – and a second one is highly likely, given the activity in that country.

"Maybe there will be several challenges from Europe too – another Italian one is on the cards, and possibly one from France. The presence of Bruno Trouble is needed to return some semblance of the grandeur of earlier days and then the Cup is up and running once more. Thank you Kiwis for winning."

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