The Economics Of Boat Racing


The America's Cup Economic Benefits

By Jeanne Craig
Published: June/July 2012

The America’s Cup races are about to provide a major economic stimulus, not only to the American marine industry, but to states on two coasts that are ready for action, and for their world close-ups

Photo of high-tech fleet of America’s Cup boats
The high-tech fleet of America’s Cup boats is set to inject an estimated $1.6 billion into the American economy.

The 34th America’s Cup is one of the biggest international sporting competitions in the world. “You’d have to live under a rock to not get excited about this,” says Dennis J. Conaghan, executive director of San Francisco’s Center for Economic Development, referring not only to a whole new format for the traditional race, but also to the estimated $1.6 billion that will flow into American coffers as the host.

According to a recent study by the Bay Area Council Economic Institute (BACEI) and Beacon Economics, amazingly, the America's Cup ranks as the world’s third-largest sporting competition. This is true whether measured by the number of spectators or by the amount of economic activity generated by attendees and competitors. The event is second only to the Olympics and soccer’s World Cup, and many times larger than the Super Bowl. It will also be the only major international sporting event held in 2013, by design. Let’s take a look at the financial benefits the U.S. will reap from the world’s most famous sailboat racing series. The three hosting communities will enjoy the richest rewards, but areas beyond these ports will also see spikes in travel and tourism as international sailing teams, world media, and spectators explore the regions outside of the main venues.

Coming To America, A New Format

The 34th Americas Cup is comprised of three main events, each staged in a different location: the AC World Series, already held in 2011 in San Diego, California, and coming to Newport, Rhode Island, in June/July 2012; the Louis Vuitton Cup in San Francisco in July 2013, where the foreign challenger will be determined; and the Finals between the challenger and the American defender, also in San Francisco in 2013.

“The Cup is coming back to the United States after a 26-year absence in a whole new way,” says Tom Huston, chief commercial officer for the America’s Cup Event Authority. He’s referring to the span of time that the America’s Cup has remained “captured” by foreign teams, and held in foreign waters. In 2010, American software magnate Larry Ellison, founder of the Oracle Corporation and third wealthiest American, finally won the Cup back for the United States, securing the right to hold the event in the U.S. once again. He’s chosen to have the next AC World Series exhibition event on the East Coast, in Newport (where he has a home), and build up to the final America’s Cup Races on the West Coast, in San Francisco, the main venue for the final series.

“This is the first time that sports-marketing pros have been put on the project to transform the sport and create a future for the next 100 years.” One of the most significant changes is the addition of the AC World Series, a circuit of regattas designed to bring Cup racing to top venues around the world. These regattas are a proving ground for hopefuls. “We created the AC World Series as a precursor to the America’s Cup,” says Huston. “It’s giving us the opportunity to showcase the event, and to have fans follow the action in between America’s Cup years. It’s like the Formula One of sailboat racing.”

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Meet The America’S Cup Teams

There are nine teams from eight countries competing for the America’s Cup. Those teams are: Aleph (France); Artemis Racing (Sweden); China Team (China); Emirates Team New Zealand (New Zealand); Energy (France); Green Comm (Spain); Luna Rossa Challenge 2013 (Italy); Team Korea (Korea); and Oracle Racing (USA).

The teams train on high-tech AC45s, and sail AC72s in the America’s Cup events. The number of boats per team varies; teams have one or two of each. For AC races, each boat has a crew of five. The number of support people for each team varies from 30 up to 100.

AC45 Principal Dimensions
Hull Length: 13.45 meters (44 feet)
Beam: 6.90 m (22.6 feet)
Displacement: 1,400 kg (3,086 pounds)

AC72 Principal Dimensions
Hull Length: 22.0 meters (72 feet)
Beam: 14.0 meters (46 feet)
Displacement: 5,700 kilograms (12,500 pounds)

Event Calendar
2011-2012 AC WORLD SERIES:
April 7 – 15, 2012, Naples, Italy
May 12 – 20, 2012, Venice, Italy
June 23 –July 1, 2012, Newport, Rhode Island

Louis Vuitton Cup
July 4 – September 1, 2013, San Francisco, California
America's Cup Match (Finals):
September 7 – 22, 2013, San Francisco, California

Where To Tune In
The television coverage for the races to be held in Newport and San Francisco will include Comcast, NBC Sports, and a prime-time time slot. In addition, all races will be streamed live at

General Information