America’s Cup: What You Need to Know
Published on May 25th, 2017
Whereas the 34th America’s Cup in 2013 consumed nearly 12 weeks (July 7 to September 25), the 35th America’s Cup starting this week in Bermuda is a much tidier package – May 26 to no longer than June 27. Here’s what you need to know:
DEFENDER: Oracle Team USA is still the Defender and haven’t lost a step. While skipper Jimmy Spithill is no American, he’s won the last two Cups, so this is no time to be checking green cards. The technical multihull skills accrued by this team since launching their 90-foot trimaran (August 2008) for the 33rd America’s Cup are a mighty sword. Challengers beware!
CHALLENGERS: There are five teams, and if the practice sessions are to be believed, the elimination series will be a battle between Artemis Racing (SWE), Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), and SoftBank Japan (JPN). While it is hard to count out Ben Ainslie with Land Rover BAR (GBR) and Franck Cammas with Groupama Team France (FRA), these two first-time teams are not yet ready to sit at the big boy table.
SCHEDULE: Prepare to be confused. The convoluted race schedule has good competition reasons but is bound to baffle the over-poured barfly. Here we go:
• America’s Cup World Series (2015-16)
These lead-up races to the 2013 America’s Cup were a glorified exhibition, so they re-purposed the plan this time to give it value. Land Rover BAR, winner of the 2015-16 World Series, gained a two point advantage now going into the first stage in Bermuda. The Defender got one point. Everyone else is on zero. Amazingly, those occasionally random World Series races may have an impact in Bermuda.
• First Stage (May 26 to June 3) – America’s Cup Qualifiers
All six America’s Cup teams – yes, that includes the Defender – will compete in a double round robin match race series where each competitor races every other team twice. Each win earns one point, and the four Challengers with the most points advance to the next round. This is where the Brits or the French could get eliminated, but with Ainslie’s 2-point advantage, the French will need to beat them twice and do a little better against the field to survive.
Result: Groupama Team France got eliminated. Swedes, Brits, Japanese, and Kiwis on to the next stage.
• Second Stage (June 4 to 12; may end earlier) – America’s Cup Challenger Playoff
The Defender now gets out of the way, with the top four Challengers split into two Semi-Finals (best of 9) with the winner of each match to meet in the Final (best of 9) to determine who will take on Defender in the America’s Cup Match.
Challenger Final Results
Emirates Team New Zealand (5) vs Artemis Racing (2) – WINNER: Emirates Team New Zealand
• America’s Cup Match (June 17 to 28; may end earlier): The final stage of the 35th America’s Cup will see Jimmy Spithill’s Oracle Team USA lining up against Peter Burling’s Emirates Team New Zealand, with the winner to be the first team to claim seven points. However, the caveat is how the Defender, which won the Qualifiers held on May 26-June 3, will begin the series with a one point advantage. As the rules detail, the Challenger will carry a one point disadvantage (ie, minus 1), meaning they will need to win eight races to take the trophy whereas the Defender need only win seven races.