Protocol Change Allows for America’s Cup Preview

Published on March 22nd, 2017

The America’s Cup has always been about designing the fastest boats, and without the fastest boat, it is near impossible to win the America’s Cup. But who would be fastest? Per the America’s Cup protocol, which restricted teams from training with each other, that question was not to be answered until the America’s Cup Qualifiers – the first stage of the competition – were to begin on May 26.

Unless, of course, the protocol gets changed.

“Protocol changes require the Defender and the Challenger Commission to agree,” reports Jack Griffin of Cup Experience. “The Challenger Commission uses majority rule to reach decisions. We don’t know how each of the challengers voted, but we do know that at least a majority of them voted for this change.”

With Emirates Team New Zealand choosing to train in Auckland through March, they have no interest in the other teams getting quality training time. “Until this week it was prohibited by the protocol,” the team posted on its Facebook page. “But now allowed after yet another rule change. (Are the five teams) working together to protect their future AC framework agreement?”

Since the other five teams have only launched their AC Class race boats within the past month, we suspect there is so much uncertainty that they all voted for the change. And as the Kiwis note, there is interest within this group to insure one of them wins… and the Kiwis lose.

Here is the new rule:
Each Competitor is prohibited from racing or on-water testing an AC Class boat in a coordinated manner with a yacht of another Competitor, except during the following permitted periods in 2017 (all dates are inclusive):

March 22-26
April 6-7
April 10-12
April 24-28
May 15-19
May 22-23
May 25-June 12

A reminder that while the Challengers were limited to building only one AC Class boat, the Defender was allowed to build two race boats. While it is not revealed if the Defender plans to have two AC Class boats, it is safe to assume they will.

The protocol states the Defender shall not sail its two AC Class boats together until the America’s Cup Qualifiers has been completed. This is less a rule than reality as the Defender will be competing in this stage which runs from May 26-June 3.

However, the Defender is not competing in the next stage on June 4-12, which is when the top four challengers face off for selection to determine who will compete in the 35th America’s Cup. It is during this time when the Defender will have two weeks for two boat testing before the America’s Cup Match begins on June 17.

For the complete race schedule… click here.


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