Dana Johannsen on sport

Dana Johannsen is a Herald sport writer

Dana Johannsen: Oracle losing in the popularity stakes

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Oracel Team USA. Photo / Oracle
Oracel Team USA. Photo / Oracle

It appears many San Francisco locals just can't seem to warm to Oracle Team USA.

The message from several local sailing identities this week was all the same: "we want New Zealand to win".

It seems extraordinary that the home team would be so deeply unpopular but then everything about this 34th America's Cup has been extraordinary.

Before the competition had even kicked off the locals were fed up with the regatta.

Promoters first promised more than a dozen international boats would come to the Bay area to face Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing, that the city would reap more than $1 billion in economic rewards and that a group of San Francisco's "who's who" would raise $32 million in private money to help defer the city's costs.

Instead it became as the San Francisco Chronicle termed it "the incredible shrinking regatta".

The glorious global sailing showcase never eventuated, while the economic forecasts have been drastically downgraded.

But the cheating scandal that erupted earlier this month has been the final straw for a lot of people. Many local sailors are deeply embarrassed by their home team and feel let down.

The international jury is now working to resolve the mess, with the hearings into the conduct of individuals within the team held over the past couple of days. Tomorrow the jury will convene to hear evidence in relation to the investigation under article 60 in the Protocol, which relates to upholding the integrity of the event.

There is talk that Oracle may be docked points for the way they have conducted themselves during their campaign - a virtually unprecedented move that would make their quest to defend the Cup that much harder.

But the task of winning back their fans will be even tougher.

- NZ Herald

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