Ellison, America's Cup arrive in San Francisco

February 19, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The America's Cup arrived in San Francisco Friday, back in the United States for the first time in 15 years.

The oldest trophy in sports will make its new home at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, where Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is a member. The club is now only the sixth in 159 years to claim the America's Cup.

The cup came into the Bay Area in its own seat in a Louis Vuitton case. The two feet nine inch silver plated mug is the Holy Grail of yacht racing.

But the real prize will be if San Francisco is picked to host the next regatta. When San Diego hosted the race in 1995, the competition pumped $500 million in to the local economy.

San Diego is already vying to host the next one.

"Well, we're going to fight hard to make sure that doesn't happen; I'm going to be at City Hall on Saturday with Larry Ellison and the team," Mayor Gavin Newsom said.

It is Ellison's decision where to hold the next race.

"And we're going to work hard to curry his favor and secure the fate and future of this race for many, many years to come, not just two years from now, but hopefully, for many years after that," Newsom said.

Ellison has said his decision depends on the facilities available for hosting as many as a dozen sailing syndicates for many months prior to the racing.

The Port of San Francisco's executive director says there are lots of possibilities.

"In terms of where there's space, locations anywhere from pretty much the Golden Gate Bridge all the way to Pier 80 on the southern water front is on the table as something to look at, including Treasure Island," Monique Moyer said.

Ellison is on the record saying he would like to see the race in San Francisco.

"All the sailors who have raced in San Francisco are pretty unanimous in saying that it's one of the best places to race, for sure; fantastic wind, fantastic sea conditions and the city's not a bad place to be either," Russell Coutts, CEO of BMW Oracle Racing said.

Originally known as the 100 Guinea Cup, the first race was held in 1851 and it was supposed to be a slam dunk win for the British, who were eager to show their ship building and sailing superiority. Instead, the American entry buried the competition. And in Valencia, Spain last weekend, Ellison's team did pretty much the same.