Was it bad luck and poor timing that scuppered Hong Kong's plans to host its first major international regatta - the Louis Vuitton Trophy - or was it that we couldn't meet extra demands from the participants? This is the question doing the rounds at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club (RHKYC), which had offered its services to host the gala show partly funded by the government's Mega Events Fund (MEF) that would have put Hong Kong firmly in the limelight as a venue for major sailing events. Alas, all those hopes were dashed last week when it was announced that the World Sailing Teams Association (WSTA), together with Louis Vuitton and the RHKYC, had decided to pull the plug. We were looking forward to witnessing top-class America's Cup boats manned by some of the best sailors in the world battling it out on Victoria Harbour in January. It would have been one of the biggest international sporting events to be hosted in Hong Kong and would have perfectly showcased our delightful harbour and the city. The official reason hauled up the mast by the organisers was that many of the teams were focusing their resources on preparations for the 34th America's Cup, which will take place in either 2013 or 2014. With the possibility that the next America's Cup will feature multi-hull boats, it is believed that most teams wanted to get out of the mono-hull deadweights they sail presently and start focusing on the future. The WSTA, which represents the professional sailors, syndicates and owners of the existing America's Cup boats, said the calendar next year was jam-packed with seven pre-America's Cup events pencilled in. The January event in Hong Kong just didn't fit in. It is bad timing surely. Three Louis Vuitton Trophy events had already been held this year, in Nice, France, in Auckland, New Zealand, and La Maddalena, Italy. Dubai will host the next one in November. Hong Kong's turn coming in 2011 was one event too many. But there are whispers that we could still have hosted the event if we had been able to meet increased demands from the organisers - the WTSA. It is rumoured that they had asked for a 25 per cent increase in the initial budget to keep the Hong Kong dream alive. This apparently was too much to stomach for the local partners, mainly the government, who turned it down. And despite protracted negotiations to try to keep the event afloat, it ended in failure. The government is believed to have pledged HK$10 million from its Mega Events Fund. In the initial round of applications, sailing and tennis were the only sports to meet the approval of the bureaucrats. The Louis Vuitton Trophy got the biggest allocation from the MEF, and rightly so as it was perceived that it would bring in large numbers of visitors and raise the profile of the city, especially with racing taking place against an exciting backdrop. This turn of events, entirely out of the control of the local backers, is a huge blow and utterly demoralising. At least the government didn't spend anything, for, as the RHKYC revealed, the sponsorship money is still intact because the event was still in its planning stages and no work had been undertaken at Pier 10 in Central, the planned site of the race village. Warwick Downes, the former commodore of the RHKYC and chairman of its organising committee, hoped the last-minute pullout would not discourage the government. 'The Louis Vuitton Trophy had the potential to place Hong Kong on the map as a host city for major world-class sailing events. The club appreciates the tremendous level of government support we have received in this attempt to bring the Louis Vuitton Trophy to Hong Kong. We remain confident that regatta organisers will continue to consider the city and its harbour as a prospective venue,' Downes said. Guy Nowell, another sailing enthusiast and editor of Sail-World Asia added: 'It was widely perceived that a successful LV Trophy in Hong Kong might prise open the governmental door a little, and pave the way for other events such as the Volvo Ocean Race and the World Match Racing Tour. So it is to be hoped that this cancellation doesn't do too much damage, in the eyes of the Hong Kong government, to sailing events in general.' Let's hope both these gentlemen are proved right. Yet, there is no denying that the sport has taken a massive hit. Sailing is not a great spectator sport, and funding for such events from the government or the private sector is difficult to come by. 'It is sad that having successfully brought the government to the table, this opportunity is now gone. All the indications are that the others pulled the plug though we have been able to fulfil their requirements. You can say we lost face, rather than them,' a leading Hong Kong sailor said. He added: 'If there is another opportunity in the future, the government will likely flag this chapter as part of their assessment and the whole process will be even more difficult.' He is right. The WSTA hasn't done Hong Kong any favours. America's Cup winners BMW Oracle have indicated that Hong Kong could be a venue for staging an America's Cup-related event event in the future. Will the government rise to that challenge? Or will it be a case of once bitten, twice shy? It is also a shame other sporting events have been affected. The fact that the MEF was committed to providing HK$10 million to sailing would have prevented it from handing out money to other applicants. One such event was the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes. They didn't need much, just a few million to help them get by, but a request for support this year was turned down. If that HK$10 million was available, perhaps things might have been different for the Sixes. The Sixes, however, is gamely going ahead. Not so sailing. That was not under the control of the local partners. A lesson the government can learn from.