That sinking feeling it's time to bail out of America's Cup

LARRY ELLISON: Oracle's billionaire owner with the Amercia's Cup.
LARRY ELLISON: Oracle's billionaire owner with the Amercia's Cup.

I've often wondered, who is Larry and why is he so happy?

Now we all know: Happy Larry is Larry Ellison, the IT billionaire who spent a fortune buying the America's Cup and a second fortune to retain it.

Ellison's new self-serving America's Cup rules, unveiled this week, stink. The cup is in danger of becoming an event defined by match-fixing, rather than "match racing".

Yet another sad chapter in its history of lawyered-up rich nobs fighting it out through the courts, rather than on the water.

Frankly, it's time Grant Dalton and co packed up the Team New Zealand sails and walked away from the sham cup. It is now a complete and utter farce.

Team NZ needs to pull the pin and tell Ellison and his bottomless pit of money that we're not interested anymore.

And without the very real and raw talent of the Kiwis, the event loses so much appeal - if not all of it.

Ellison is totally screwing the scrum. This isn't sport as we Kiwis know it and it's certainly not yachting. The cup is now firmly entrenched in disrepute - if it wasn't before.

The rules Ellison revealed this week for the next America's Cup make it so much harder and much more expensive just to compete.

Surely, the biggest barrier to the next event is the structure of it. It will be staged in four parts around the globe, with all sorts of qualifying regattas.

The good old days of an easy-to- understand Louis Vuitton challenger series have well and truly been sunk. It has become far too complicated and it's impossible for most punters to understand.

And the next event will only be worse.

More layers. More travel. More complications. More cost. More rules. More barriers. More problems. More unfairness. Less chance of winning.

There will be a "World Series" in smaller AC45 catamarans, then the teams will move into the America's Cup qualifiers in the bigger AC62 catamarans.

Then, after all that, the top four teams move into the playoffs, with the winner then taking on Oracle and Ellison's gold- plated outfit in the race for the cup.

What's worse is no-one knows where all these races might be held. Some might take place in one part of the world, the finals somewhere else.

And this is the bit that really, really gets me. Oracle can build and test two boats; the challengers are only allowed one. This is a huge advantage and shouldn't be underestimated.

There is also a suggestion that Oracle may start the finals 1-0 up against the challenger for the America's Cup. How the hell does that one work? It's an utter farce.

How anyone agreed to all this is beyond me.

We can't afford to enter this regatta again. Selling red socks no longer cuts it. What would Sir Peter Blake think? And what would he do now?

Last year Team New Zealand spent an estimated $120 million. Surely that won't be enough next time. Of that, $40m came from the Government, courtesy of taxpayers.

Is it really taxpayers' job to fork out another $40m trying to beat an egotistical super-wealthy man who reportedly spent $500m on his last campaign?

How can we keep up? We can't.

Ellison is one of the richest men in the world and he has proven there is no end to the amount of money he'll throw at the Auld Mug to hold on to it.

Clearly we gave Ellison a fright in San Francisco. So he has come up with these self-serving rules that make it so much harder for us to compete and win.

This is an elitist rich man's game that hard-working Kiwi taxpayers should walk away from.

How is this spending helping people who live in Upper Hutt? Or Christchurch East? It's not, so let's stop kidding ourselves. Reports of an economic bonanza as a result of our involvement in this regatta are wildly overstated by politicians enjoying canapes and drinking bubbly under the San Francisco sun.

I say stick it - let's boycott Ellison's games and stay home.

Without New Zealand the regatta is meaningless and the America's Cup dies.

Wait for Oracle to come back and beg for us to be in it again. If that doesn't happen then let's set up our own regatta around New Zealand.

Let's make it cheaper. Let's make it more accessible. Let's make it simpler. Let's come up with our own ideas and invite the world. Now surely that would be better for our economy.

Sport is about a level playing field, where everyone plays by the same rules.

Sure the holder of the America's Cup has always set the rules, but this is going too far. There's no even keel in this race. It's been re-rigged and re-jigged and we're being shafted.

This event has been going for 163 years but now is the time for Team NZ and the other possible challengers to sail into the sunset, leaving Ellison to play in the sandpit on his own.

Let his two boats race against each other in some trumped-up final to add to the farce.

Because this isn't sport, it's a sham.

The Dominion Post