America’s Cup: Early speculation regarding new format

Published on December 8th, 2013

The America’s Cup could be coming to New Zealand after all, if early speculation regarding the shape of the next regatta comes to pass.

One possibility mooted ahead of the next Cup is that all entrants to the next regatta will stage a leg of the America’s Cup. An international series will be held before a semifinal and final in San Francisco, if that is the venue for the next Cup chosen by holders, Oracle Team USA.

Sources in the US, New Zealand and Australia have confirmed there is much talk in Cup circles of hosting “home” America’s Cup events in the countries of competing teams. The idea is to have more frequent Cup action – good for sponsors and TV rights – and to focus on the Cup more than once every four years or so.

It must be emphasised that these are extremely early days and the Cup community is waiting to see what OTUSA decide in terms of the protocol for the 35th America’s Cup – the guiding rules which cover the timing, location, format, type of boat and other elements. Without that, potential challengers cannot assess their ability to compete and, most importantly, the cost of doing so.

But, with Australia’s challenger of record, Hamilton Island Yacht Club, signed up and the likelihood of challenges from Britain, Italy’s Luna Rossa, Sweden’s Artemis and Emirates Team New Zealand, OTUSA is looking for new ways to do what everyone agrees on – reduce the costs.

That is especially so given the dearth of challengers in San Francisco this year and the high costs attached to the previous Oracle-owned-and-operated America’s Cup World Series in the AC45 45-foot catamarans, run over the past two years. It is understood Oracle wanted Auckland City to stump up 4 million-5 million (up to $8 million) for hosting such an event in Auckland the last time. The council is said to have offered 2m (over $3m) but the gap proved too large and ACWS events were instead held in Portugal, the US, the UK and Italy.

The theory now is that all entrants will get to stage an America’s Cup event in their own back yard in 2014, 2015 and 2016 – with the local team arranging the event and “owning” the financial structure. Then the top four teams over the international series would head to San Francisco (or wherever the finals venue is) for semifinals and the Cup match against the holder in 2017. – NZ Herald, read on

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