The America’s Cup, sailing’s premiere professional event which Cork remains in the bidding race to host in 2024, has announced the introduction of a Women’s only event to run alongside the Cup itself next time around.
It has also emerged this morning that two formula one teams, the Mercedes-AMG of Lewis Hamilton and the Red Bull Racing team of Max Verstappen are almost certain to be involved with two of the competing teams, raising interest higher again.
The format of the racing and details around the staging of the event are uniquely determined by the consortia behind the defending champion and the challenger.
The introduction of a new boat class, the AC40, has opened up the opportunity to put on a specific race for women, and to reinstate a youth race which had been dropped in the latest staging in New Zealand due to the impact of Covid-19.
The bidding to host the next event was pushed back last month to enable the three cities in contention – Cork, Aukland in New Zealand and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, additional time to prepare their final bids.
The economic value assigned to Aukland from staging the event is north of €400 million and while these numbers can be made up of many moving parts, there is value to be had.
The participating boats are likely to come from New Zealand, New York and an Ineos backed British team led by Olympian Ben Ainslie, with whom our own Annalise Murphy spent a period of time post her Rio Olympics Silver Medal, as well as others.
The TV audience last time out was just shy of one billion putting it among the most-watched sporting spectacles on the planet and the technology advances that the event has cultivated would be a huge boost for our own sports technology ecosystem.
Cork Harbour is one of the world’s largest and there is a development site of 18 acres which is reported to have been put in the mix as a potential base for the event.
The wind was taken out of the sails of the Irish bid when stories emerged that there was unease in Government and among officials about the upfront cost and uncertainty over the actual returns, news that emerged just before the postponed decision on hosting, suggesting that the Irish bid was in pole position or close to it.
No firm date has been placed on the extension but it is believed to be in the region of six months.
The addition of greater equality in terms of the ability of men and women to compete, as well as a greater nod towards youth participation, and enhanced media interest from the involvement of F1 teams would make any potential bid more politically palatable.
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