America's Cup grey areas

Carlo Borlenghi /
Bruno Trouble discusses Louis Vuitton's involvement
Now that the America’s Cup dice is being rolled once again, this time by Russell Coutts and Larry Ellison with the participation of the challengers, there remains a number of grey areas to be resolved. One of the potentially awkward pieces of negotiation to be done is with Louis Vuitton. On the one hand the French luxury luggage manufacturer has been involved with the America’s Cup since 1983 when it first sponsored the challenger selection series in Newport, RI and has been involved with every challenger selection series since. As charismatic spokesman for Louis Vuitton, Bruno Troublé, himself a former helmsman on Baron Bic’s 12m challengers in 1977 and 1980, and traditionally the driving force behind the Louis Vuitton Cup rightly points out: “Vuitton has done so much for the America’s Cup. The America’s Cup is what it is now because of Vuitton.” Certainly the company has helped bring glamour to the event. But on the other hand is Louis Vuitton the de facto backer of the challenger selection series or do Coutts and his colleagues dare speak to other potential sponsors about this role? For the 32nd America’s Cup Alinghi and ACM clearly weren’t bothered about Louis Vuitton’s historic role and their past contribution to the event. Having run the press centre for previous Louis Vuitton Cups, for the 32nd America’s Cup in Valencia, with Alinghi and ACM in charge, Louis Vuitton were sidelined, their role becoming one purely of sponsor, something that incensed Troublé at the time. “We worked so much over the last 25 years towards the success of the Cup and we were co-organisers, in 2007 we were just paying cheques,” as he succinctly puts it, relieved that that era is now over. For the 34th America’s Cup, Louis Vuitton and Troublé are back at the heart of matters.