It’s been a busy week for the America’s Cup group. From the standpoint of sailing, Oracle USA prevailed yesterday in a court case against a former team member who was released from the team earlier this year. On the public relations front, residents of Bermuda are getting more comfortable with the Cup competitions being raced in local waters over the next two years.
Richard Gladwell of Sail World reported today that long time Oracle team member Joe Spooner, a Kiwi who been with the team for 11 years, has lost his suit filed against Oracle. The suit was filed in San Francisco and Judge Joseph Spero ruled against the plaintiff. Spooner had signed a new contract with Team Oracle last year, one which paid Spooner $7500 a month from Feb 2014 to June 2014. The contract had an escalation clause which would pay Spooner $25,000 per month until the end of the 35th America’s Cup.
At the time of signing, Spooner (and many others) assumed that the Cup would once again be sailed in US waters. When the final venue (Bermuda) was announced, Spooner asked to have his contract upped to $38,000 per month. This increase was to cover the increased costs Spooner felt were going to be incurred in a move to the new venue (Bermuda).
Spooner felt that the increase in his contract was negotiable. Apparently Team Oracle did not. Upon receiving the request from Spooner to have an increase, and reacting to Spooner’s previous comments that he would not relocate to Bermuda, Oracle sent Spooner a letter of termination.
The court determined that Spooner was a contractor to Oracle, not an employee, and as such, Oracle had the right to terminate the contract. This should end the chapter which actually began earlier when Spooner filed a lien against one of Oracle’s AC 45 boats. Later released, Spooner moved from the lien to a lawsuit against the team.
On the local front, Today in Bermuda reported earlier today that survey reports are coming in from Bermuda which indicate local residents are more enthused about the upcoming races. Total Research Associates, LTD surveyed residents in March and later in June asking whether residents thought they or a family member would gain financially from the Cup races over the next two years.
In the first survey (March), approximately 52% of those surveyed believed they would be financially better from the Cup’s choice of venue. That rose to 57% in the June/July survey.
At least 50 local contracts have been awarded to local businesses since the announcement of Bermuda as the final Cup venue. “It is good to note that the majority of residents see evidence that they will personally benefit from this event being hosted in Bermuda, and agreement has grown across all segments of the population in the last three months. That includes people with all levels of income and race,” said Mike Winfield, CEO of ACBDA.
With the Cup finals over two years out, the mood of the residents is likely to continue to become more enthusiastic.
For more on the Cup, check out the America’s Cup Web site.