The Louis Vuitton Pacific series has been enthusiastically welcomed by America’s Cup teams and also followers of the Cup.
Bruno Troublé, doyen of the Louis Vuitton Cup and the brain behind the Pacific series explains the intentions, the aims and the plans behind this new competition.
Can you explain how the idea began and became a reality and what was behind it?

Bruno Troublé: The Louis Vuitton Cup has its 25th birthday this year! We thought it was our role, you could say "our duty" to bring a bit of life into things and enable the teams to sail again, by means of a simple event. Our experience from the "Road to The Cup Regattas", in the 90s, was a decisive element.

I put the idea to Yves Carcelle and Pietro Beccari in July and they were just as enthusiastic as Grant Dalton, to whom we immediately put the idea.

The format of your Cup is rather like a mini America’s Cup; an America’s Cup where New Zealand will be the Defender. Is that how you see it; do you envisage a regatta that might, eventually, replace the America’s Cup?

Bruno Troublé: There is no malicious intent. We have NO intention of entering into competition with the America’s Cup, nor of replacing it! We love the event too much to be even thinking about that!. Soon, the main event will be back on track.

The Louis Vuitton Pacific Series has nothing to do with the Louis Vuitton Cup, which has been presented to the winning challenger since 1983. There will be a special trophy for the occasion.

We picked this particular format to be nice to our hosts, New Zealand and to ETNZ, which is lending its boats to all teams.  

Even though it resembles a mini America’s Cup, your regatta will carry the prestigious Louis Vuitton name, but not the America’s Cup name. The general public, most of whom can’t aspire to purchasing LVMH marques, have never shown much interest in match racing, except for the America’s Cup. Do you see that as being a problem when you try to attract interest from TV stations?

Bruno Troublé: I want to stress again that the Louis Vuitton Cup stands alone as an event! It is a very well known event and I would like to believe that Louis Vuitton, as a company, enjoys a LOT of credibility. The company, created 3 years after the America’s Cup, did a lot over the years to adapt the oldest trophy in sport to the modern times; at least over 22 years, from 1983 to 2003.

Several networks have already shown interest in covering the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series properly. The match racing format on those big boats is a breathtaking show!

The word “series” conjures up the impression of several venues and Salvatore Sarno has already talked about a Louis Vuitton Indian regatta, in South Africa.  Is it possible that we could also see a Louis Vuitton Atlantic, or even a Louis Vuitton Med?

Bruno Troublé: We are very naïve! We came up with “Series” only because we didn’t want anyone to mix up the name with the LV Cup. Some people are now talking about other events along the same concept. At this stage, we have no plan! We just want to make sure that the LVPS is a great and fun regatta!

The races are to be in the le port of Waitemata, close to the public. Will there be events and attractions on the quay, for families who aren’t big sailing fans?

Bruno Troublé: Yes, the racing area will be very close to the shore and the races will be short (less than an hour). Ashore, we are planning to create a ‘’Village‘’, which will regroup 3 bases from 2003. The city will erect a temporary bridge across the harbour to allow the public to walk over to the village from the city.

There is not much at stake! No skirts (yes, for the girls passing by ...), no armed guards, no accreditation, but some bars, music and a lot of fun! Kiwis know about sail racing and they love to party! It will be right in the middle of the summer.

Will the boats carry the Louis Vuitton name on the hulls and sails and will the races be open to other sponsors?  

 Bruno Troublé: The boats are those used for the LV Cup in 2007. They won’t carry America’s Cup logos, but a Louis Vuitton logo at the top of the mainsail.

To put it simply: the hull will be reserved for event sponsors and the mainsail for each team and its partners. Each team will sail with an A2 gennaker, made for the event so they are identical, but in the colours of the team and its partners.

Can you give an idea of Louis Vuitton’s budget? Who will pay the costs for the accommodation, travel, media centre and so on; LV or Auckland?

Bruno Troublé: Why do people always talk about money? It’s very simple, Louis Vuitton is paying 70% of a budget that, thanks to the concept, will be quite modest. The New Zealand Government and some partners, SKYCITY hotel will provide the rest. The travel expenses are down to the teams, but Christine Belanger has negotiated an agreement with one company for special rates.

It would be nice, for a change, to stop talking about money. We will do things as they should be done, but without talking money at every meeting.

At the press conference the mayor of Auckland welcomed the opportunity for Team New Zealand to give up the “legal high jinks” and do what it did best; sail racing. Do you think it’s time for TNZ to drop its law suits against ACM/Alinghi and others?

Bruno Troublé: As I write these lines, the belligerents are meeting in California. I have great hopes that the Cup can get going again along the right lines. The right lines? That means a balanced competition, giving every one the same chance and that is not too costly; respecting the intentions of the Americans who won in 1851, who were true sportsmen and not mercenary businessmen.

To reach that desirable state of affairs means that both sides will have to make concessions.

According to Le Temps, you said "Louis Vuitton withdrew from the next America’s Cup because we did not want to be seen as just a sponsor, but to be co-organiser as had been the case for 20 years." As I understand it, for those 20 years, Louis Vuitton paid the costs of running the Louis Vuitton Cup regatta and took the profits. After AC 32, the profits were distributed between ACM, Alinghi and the challengers. Do you really think the challengers will want to go back to the situation before AC 32 where they didn’t get anything?

Bruno Troublé: You can look at things like that …. YES, Louis Vuitton always paid whatever was required to organise the competition and get the maximum possible exposure through an efficient press and TV organisation. There were NO profits; LV paid what was needed and did NOT get any financial gain.

I am one of those people who thinks one should focus on exposure – on TV for example – rather than on making a profit, which often damages either the quality or the level of the exposure.

Three fundamental questions :

1/ Is it essential that a sporting event generates profits? Shouldn’t the money be entirely invested in making it a success?

2/ Can you really believe that the sponsors of the teams that take part care about recovering some of their outlay? NO, what they want is MAXIMUM exposure and the right image.

3/ Do you really believe that the teams got much money back, in 2007? .... I know nothing of that!

You have more that 20 possible entrants and already 8 teams have signed up, which means you can’t accept another one. What are you going to do …… do you have some ideas?

Bruno Troublé: Grant, Christine and I are working on an idea that would give us another “pair” of boats and then we would be able to accept 12 teams. It isn’t easy though; we are talking there of an event on a very different scale.

Thank you, Bruno Troubl�.
In addition to stories in this 33rd America's Cup section, you can read stories from the 32nd America's Cup . You will also find some older stories and interviews, from the last event, HERE.
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