Thursday, 25 October 2012

San Francisco Bay, America's Cup Venue

One of the more striking scenes from the world of sports this week was the pitchpoling of the Oracle America's Cup yacht in San Francisco Bay during reported 25 knot winds.  Seeing this video of the capsizing was a reminder of how important the venue of a sporting event is, including venues for sports other than the major four sports, and how the attorney working with a sporting event must consider the challenges of the venue in preparing contracts for the event.

For an America's Cup regatta, one of the challenges posed by the venue is spectator proximity to the action and safety.  Unlike previous America's Cup regattas held far offshore where few spectator boats might venture, this America's Cup will be held close to shore where there will be many spectator boats.  They likely won't be high-performance racing boats like an America's Cup yacht, but they will be close to the action, on the water, and close to each other, possibly in high winds or rough seas.  Spectator safety risks must clearly be assessed, with the goal of keeping these fans safe during the event while allowing them to enjoy the action.  The America's Cup organizing authority's contracts with the relevant authorities have to address safety issues so that liability is minimized -- where can spectator boats be positioned during a race, how will safety be monitored, how many boats will be allowed in an area, what spectator boat credentials or registration will be required, what liability waivers will be obtained.  By accounting for these issues in contracts, the excitement of America's Cup racing can remain the focus during the event.

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