Operating with a level of secrecy on par with anything in America’s intelligence community, the boat designers and engineers designing America’s Cup boats produce some of sailing’s most jaw-dropping advances. It is just one sign of the Cup’s rising price.
The cost of a campaign to even try to make it to the final races and contest for the massive trophy is so large that it would make a Formula 1 team manager blush. There is another cost and that is the alienation of the public. Yet the latest round of the America’s Cup, won by Oracle Team USA, thrilled audiences who watched the daring high-speed sailing on San Francisco Bay. The boats were as extreme as the reported $100 million it cost Oracle Corp. founder Larry Ellison to hold on to the cup. In this race, the narrative of the richest guy winning dominated, particularly after his team rolled right over its rivals in a historic comeback.
If the America’s Cup is to survive that narrative needs to shift and Mr. Ellison is the unlikely person to do it. He ought to give away the top secret plans for his boats to help make the America’s Cup what could become a more competitive open-source event.