an appointment to gain prestige

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And the winner is… “Barcelona, ​​in the territory of Catalonia”. Neither the stormy waters of Ireland, nor the calm waters of Saudi Arabia nor the calm waters of Malaga. The world’s oldest competition, the Sailing America’s Cup, will be held in Barcelona in late 2024 by the likes of the trophy’s current holders, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Ever since the schooner America crossed the Atlantic in 1851 to challenge a ship from the British Empire, the history of this sailing competition has been full of legends, sporting, economic and even heartfelt. Of the billionaires of the past three centuries, one from Baron Lipton, one from Tea, the Italian Patrizio Bertelli, one from Prada, or the American, Larry Ellison, from Oracle, is only one of those who have ambitions to juggle. achieved his goal.

If there’s anything that defines this weirdo contest, it’s the fun. There is no calendar, the owner of the jar puts it into play whenever he wants, where and how he wants. He sets the rules. For example, between 1901 and 1933, it was played only three times. And for 132 years the Czar did not leave America.

If the first regatta was in the Isle of Wight, the last time would be in Barcelona; In between, there were tragedies, Pyrrhic victories and humiliating defeats (in 2015, New Zealand lost 9-8 after the Oracle led 8-1). However, both Climb (2007) and Abyss (2010) of tournament history depict the same city, Valencia.

Like it or not, this is the mirror Barcelona should see both economically and sportingly. One of the themes that surrounds the Cup is that, after the Olympic Games or the World Cup, there is no event with much media and economic impact. It looks good, but let them tell the defending champions, New Zealand, which last year, in their own waters off Auckland, had barely brought together 34,000 visitors and 4 boats. The city did not recover 30% of the investment. The previous appointments did not even touch the success of Valencia-2007. Then, Mayor Rita Barbera danced with the Māoris and, between them, the Generalitat de Francisco Camp and the government spent more than 2,000 million euros; Instead of seagulls, 500-euro bills flew through the city of Turia. New docks, new airport and even a new city, a unique extravaganza that attracted 12 ships to the event – including a Chinese, another South African and a fine Spaniard – nearly 6 million visitors and which Made a profit of over 2,400 million euros, ten times more than the previous edition, played in Auckland, and 8 times more than the latter edition, in San Francisco Bay.

Barcelona’s candidacy, supported by the Generalitat, City Council and Fira, will invest 70 million euros in preparation (Auckland spent 250 million last year), with an expected economic impact of 1,000 million euros. This will depend, in large part, on the number of boats that dare to participate, in addition to the champion and challenger. At the moment it is unknown whether there will be any Spanish and/or Catalan boats, although it does not appear that the local business community can contribute approximately 50 million non-refundable to the adventure, as winning, even being a finalist Being, is beyond logic.

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The rule, imposed by the champions—New Zealand—in agreement with challenger-British Ineos, seeks a balance between the tradition of the tournament and the technological innovation of these Formula 1 cars from the sea. The 12 boats of Valencia-2007 would have been difficult to reach, but neither would it have fallen to the Judicial Charlotte of Valencia-2010, when the America’s Cup was settled over three days and two boats, one of them the quirky Oracle trimaran, which literally hit 42 knots ( 77 km/h).

The aim of the new rule is to reduce costs. Compared to versions in which participants built three boats and doubled the crew, only one could be built, limited the number of sails and reduced the crew from 11 to 8 members (17 in Valencia). were), all with passports from the country the yacht represents.

To begin with, with or without a national ship, the designation of Barcelona by New Zealand is a success that neither the city council nor the government has had enough of in recent times. Nor is the America’s Cup experiencing its best of decades, as only two or three boats dare to challenge the champion. Barcelona’s challenge is to attract the largest and most diverse number of yachtsmen. The budget, to begin with, is modest, and it does not appear that the mayor is prepared to allocate resources to such an elite competition, no matter how embellished with women and youth regattas. The Copa del America is for the chosen people. Barcelona has the opportunity to popularize this and the city, as well as advertise itself with the America’s Cup.

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