Whacky Rules of the 35th America’s Cup
Published on June 14th, 2017
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
When the 34th America’s Cup began on September 7, a cloud of confusion covered San Francisco Bay as Defender Oracle Team USA began the series with -2 points.
What championship of sport begins with a tilted playing field? (Answer below)
The advantage given to Challenger Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013 was the result of a jury penalty against the Defender due to boat tampering during the AC World Series. Rather than an outright disqualification of the host team, this kept the show going – a vital result for the people who had paid for the show.
As history reports, the Defender overcame this deficit to win, and in forming the rules for the 35th edition, has pushed this championship structure to extremes not previously seen (or imagined?).
• A team pocketing points before the Challenger Series began.
• The Defender racing in the Challenger Series.
• A team pocketing points before the America’s Cup Match begins.
So what championship of sport begins with a tilted playing field? I can only think of car racing, which holds time trials to determine starting order. Can’t think of another sport. But car racing offers only a few lengths advantage, not a lap. Or a full race.
Good luck to the broadcasters explaining this one…
But the Challengers signed up for this gig, so no use now debating the rules. Rules are rules. If you want to play the game, you accept the rules and play up to their absolute limit. All games are the same.
As for the impassioned fans, however, that’s another story. Kiwi fan Tom Weaver couldn’t contain himself when considering the structure of this America’s Cup.
“This 2017 edition of the America’s Cup has to be the most crooked contest in an event historically famous for being stacked in the defenders favour,” claims Weaver. “This latest edition makes the New York Yacht Club’s shenanigans over a period of 130 years look like kindergarten compared to the Oracle Team USA idea of fair play in 2017.
“ETNZ have stormed through a ring of fire to get to the Match starting on Saturday; quite frankly I’m surprised Oracle did not succeed in instructing one of their puppet teams to “Take Out” ETNZ the old fashioned way – T-bone! But I digress.
“Forcing ETNZ into a challenger selection series in which the Defender gets to compete/check-in/gauge performance – WTF …give me a break! George Schuyler will be rolling over in his grave as ETNZ finally emerge as the selected Challenger for the America’s Cup Match only to start one race down. WHAT? Is that a -1 or they are +1? What, you are confused? Sounds like a video game or something.
“The whole event stinks of myopic short term money grubbing greed. When the wind is less than 10kts the racing is like watching paint dry – just like sailing always has been. We have arrived on Saturday to see USA vs NZL for all the marbles. I just hope our Australian is better than your Australians – GO ETNZ!”
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.