After one French team bid adieu to the America's Cup, bajillionaire Larry Ellison and Oracle Racing are scrambling to keep another team from making their own French exit due to the prohibitively high cost of the regatta's 72-foot catamarans. While there are currently seven teams competing in the World Series races that lead up to Ellison's big show in the Bay, only four have signed up for the actual event in San Francisco. So, in order to keep things interesting Ellison and Co. have cut a "technology transfer" deal with the French Energy Team — or in other words, Oracle is paying to make sure they have someone to race against.
The AC-72s, which Ellison decreed would be the chosen craft for the finals next year, cost some $8 million per boat. That's eight times as much as the 45-footers the teams are currently running and apparently too rich for the French blood. Besides making sure there are plenty of boats on the water, the deal is a bit of a departure for a sport that's largely based on sponsorship money spent engineering the fastest boat. As Energy Team CEO Bruno Peyon told the Examiner, his team now has, "everything we need to enable us to succeed, and maybe even pull off a major surprise." (Assuming Ellison doesn't cash in on the favor and order him to capsize the thing on purpose, that is.)
Anyhow, for those of us stuck on land without any hope of Larry Ellison ever buying us an $8 million yacht, you can watch today's A-Cup World Series final in Naples, Italy at these fine San Francisco watering holes. That way, when the races start up in the Bay, you can pretend to have actually some clue about what's going on.