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Is next America’s Cup coming to Hawaii?

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The recent headline in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, “Prestigious yacht race could generate millions for isles,” also generated a huge amount of discussion among local sailors.

The article below the headline began by noting that, “… billionaire Larry Ellison, the owner of 98 percent of Lanai, has set his eyes on the islands to hold the 2017 America’s Cup yacht race.”

The paper quoted information from the San Francisco Chronicle, which reported that Ellison wants the next America’s Cup to involve regattas all over the world “leading up to the Louis Vuitton Cup, and the main event, the America’s Cup likely taking place in Honolulu.”

The San Francisco Chronicle article also explained that the earlier regattas around the world would be sailed in less expensive AC45s (AC72s were sailed in the last America’s Cup) and the division championships as well as the Louis Vuitton and America’s Cup races would be contested in AC60s.

Both newspapers agreed that having the America’s Cup in Hawaii could generate millions of dollars for the local economy, however the Star-Advertiser also pointed out in a quote from Jerry Agrusa, professor of hospitality and tourism management at Hawaii Pacific University, that it is unclear how much taxpayers would have to pay if the state needs to upgrade its harbors or build pavilions or stands for spectators near the ocean.

As most local sailors would agree, Oahu - and the state in general - currently hasn’t the infrastructure to accommodate AC60-type boats, so the question becomes, should the taxpayers pick up the tab for costly dockside improvements for boats that will be here for just a matter of months, or might Ellison agree to pay that expense?

When San Francisco hosted the America’s Cup last year, it was somewhat disappointed, after considerable spending on new infrastructure, to find that the income it received was considerably less than expected.

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