Italians threaten to withdraw from America’s Cup

Published on March 26th, 2015

When it was announced on March 25 that the competitors and organizers of the 2017 America’s Cup were planning to implement changes to reduce the size of the boat from the previously announced AC62, the news came as a strong and significant shift of course.

However, one team clearly not onboard are the Italians that issued this statement on March 26:

“Team Luna Rossa Challenge is distinctly opposed to the proposal to change the Class Rule for the 35th America’s Cup and therefore the boat that was previously accepted by all challengers on June 5th 2014.”

The idea of changing the boat size has been floated for some time.

“Part the way through the venue process in 2014, we discussed with the teams downscaling the size of the boats to give us more room to maneuver with some of the venues under consideration,” said America’s Cup defense CEO Russell Coutts in December. “It was quite an intense and robust discussion, with consideration also toward moving these boats around the world, the future of these boats, the costs, and so forth, how many crew they should have. But the teams didn’t vote for downsizing, for various good reasons actually.”

And now months later, Emirates Team New Zealand questions the process for change on their Facebook page:

“Since then time has passed with teams well advanced in their design process now and any ideas around change will need the full consultation and support of all the teams.”

Coutts explains that Pete Melvin, who was involved in creating the design rule for the AC72 used in 2013, and the AC62 that had been planned for 2017, has been retained by the teams to propose revised specifications:

“A length somewhere between 45-50′ seems to be the consensus, enabling the boat parts to fit into a container, however, the beam and wing height are probably more important considerations than the length in terms of performance. It is a pity we didn’t get this over the line a while back when it was first proposed but better late than never.”

However, according to their statement, the Italian team is not willing to accept any change to the boat size:

“If the principle of unanimity of all challengers required to change the Class Rule were not to be respected, Luna Rossa will be obliged to withdraw from the 35th America’s Cup.”

There are currently five challengers, with the Italians expected to be among the favorites.

To complicate matters further, the Italian team was to host the first of four America’s Cup World Series events in 2015, but now say that an effort to change from the AC 62 will jeopardize the organization of the Cagliari, Sardinia event planned to take place from June 4 to June 7.

Staying silent has been the government of Bermuda, though likely wondering if any proposed changes may impact the financial benefit they hoped to gain from the US$77 million package they have committed to be the host of the 2017 event.

The teams will be asked to vote on rule changes to the boat before the end of March. As “the principle of unanimity” is not required, standing by for what changes are made and whether the Italians will stay or go

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