What’s happening to the America’s Cup?

Published on July 20th, 2014

The role of the Challenger of Record in the America’s Cup goes to the first entrant accepted by the Defender, and their responsibility is to negotiate the rules of the next event, and to represent all challengers to ensure a fair and sporting contest.

When the Challenger of Record is eliminated in competition, the responsibility of the title goes to the next accepted entrant. But for the past two editions, organized by Golden Gate Yacht Club and Larry Ellison’s sailing team, the Challenger of Record walked away before the competition began.

The Challenger of Record for the 34th and 35th America’s Cup, Yacht Club di Roma and Hamilton Island Yacht Club respectively, sought to help create an affordable and accessible event. But in both cases, their withdrawal occurred following negotiations with the Defender, when they realized their best effort in creating the Protocol had still kept the event out of reach.

In this latest occurrence by the Australian club for the 2017 event, here are some of the factors being discussed:

* Many in the sport feel the Defense CEO Russell Coutts is putting commercial interests ahead of sailing, reports the Associated Press. Most foreign syndicates are unhappy that San Francisco, which provided a spectacular backdrop and steady wind last year, was eliminated from contention to host the 2017 regatta due to financial reasons They also are unhappy that Bermuda is under consideration to host the America’s Cup match in 2017, as the logistics and commercial appeal of the British territory are seen to be problematic.

* The New Zealand Herald notes how a provision in the Protocol says a challenge will not be accepted by the Defender until there are at least four challengers. With Team Australia’s withdrawal and a French challenge unlikely to get off the ground, it leaves only four teams – Team New Zealand, Artemis, Luna Rossa and Ben Ainslie’s British syndicate – capable of putting together a campaign. Should they lose another challenger, there will be no event.

* Team Australia CEO Iain Murray has reiterated what the New Zealand and British efforts had already stated. “The timeline is the killer in this Cup. Sponsors want to know where the venues are, and the dates,” Murray told Sail-World. “The gap gets pretty wide trying to get the sponsors to commit against the timeline of the expenditure.” Teams must submit $1.025 million to enter by August 8, but competition dates for 2015 might not be known until November, and details regarding the Finals for 2017 possibly not released until the end of this year. Secondary entry fees of $1 million cash and $1 million performance bond must be submitted by December 1, 2014. Entry and schedule deadlines.

Who will be the next Challenger of Record is not known, nor is it known who has submitted entry and the initial fee. It is rumored that Swedish and Italian clubs have entered.

Much will be determine after the entry deadline on August 8. Will the required minimum of four teams enter? If there are only four teams, will the elaborate and expensive multi-staged Challenger series be needed?

For an event seeking to take steps forward to becoming a commercial sporting enterprise, this edition’s progress is not yet measurable.

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