John Branch on the fascinating backstory of how the Golden Gate Yacht Club, and not the far more prestigious St. Francis, became the home to America’s Cup:
The St. Francis had attempted to win the America’s Cup in 2000. The member Paul Cayard skippered AmericaOne into the finals of the Louis Vuitton Cup, a sort of semifinal to determine who would challenge the defending champion in the America’s Cup. AmericaOne lost.
By then, Ellison, the founder and chief executive of Oracle, had built his résumé with major sailing victories for a team that he financed and sometimes skippered. He bought the assets from the AmericaOne team with the intention of creating the top challenger from the United States for the next America’s Cup, in 2003.
It was presumed that the St. Francis, which Ellison had joined several years earlier, would shepherd his quest. Negotiations were sticky. The two sides were unwilling to cede too much control.
The club wanted to name the boat. It refused to guarantee that Ellison, should his team win the America’s Cup, would be chosen to defend it if and when the race went to San Francisco Bay. It rejected a request to form a board within the St. Francis board of directors that would exclusively handle matters related to the America’s Cup.
Bajurin and other members of the Golden Gate Yacht Club heard whispers and read news media accounts of the failing negotiations. The club was $453,000 in debt.