America’s Cup: The Entry Process

Published on November 29th, 2018

The America’s Cup is renowned as one of the most difficult competitions in international sport to win. Just entering the America’s Cup itself is no small feat either. To enter the 36th America’s Cup is no longer a matter of just ‘throwing your hat in the ring’.

Currently, there are four official teams – one New Zealand Defender and three Challengers (Britain, Italy, and USA). However, there are rumblings of more that still want in.

The deadline for late entries to be submitted to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron for the 36th America’s Cup is at 5.00 pm (NZT) on November 30, 2018. But then any Notice of Challenge needs to be carefully examined to meet requirements imposed by both the Deed of Gift and the 36th America’s Cup Protocol before acceptance of entry is granted.

As per the Deed of Gift a challenger, in order to be accepted, must be an organised yacht club from a foreign country which “having for its annual regatta an ocean water course on the sea, or on an arm of the sea, or one which combines both.”

In addition, under the Protocol which governs the rules of the 36th America’s Cup, a challenging Yacht Club has to meet further criteria: has been in existence for a minimum of three years, maintains a membership of 200 members, is financially supported by its members on a pro rata basis, has objectives consistent with the furtherance of yachting activities and is a member of the National Sailing Authority. These are all specific criteria that are subject to due diligence.

If any further information or clarification is required relating to the Notice of Challenge, the challenging yacht Club will be asked to provide the information within a time limit which will be specified by the Defender depending upon the type of information required.

Once that level of scrutiny is complete the entry can be formally accepted.

Seems easy enough? Not so fast.

Just like an offer to buy a house, it is not uncommon for entries received to have specific conditions tied to the Notice of Entry. These could be such requirements as an entry being conditional on an ACWS regatta being confirmed in the country of the Challenger.

Other entries might require specific changes to the Protocol in order for the challenging team to comply with it. For example, a team may need a Protocol exemption from a requirement to compete in an ACWS regatta because of the late timing of the build of their race yacht will prohibit the ability to compete in the first regatta.

Any challenges which will require amendments to the Protocol must be agreed between the Defender and the Challenger of Record before their challenge can be officially accepted.

Once that hurdle is overcome the questions on everyone’s lips will be: Who are they? Where are they from? Who is the Skipper?

Unfortunately for eager America’s Cup followers, the ball is not entirely in the court of the Defender. The announcement of the acceptance of a challenge by Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron is made in conjunction with the Challenger and will depend upon when they wish to make a public announcement about it.

They will need time to line up their ducks and announce their challenge to win the oldest trophy in international sport.

What can we expect to be announced after the deadline? Only the number of Notices of Challenge formally received as then the acceptance assessment process begins.

Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched
2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched
During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
December 10-20, 2020: America’s Cup Christmas Race
January and February 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 2021: The America’s Cup Match


Source: ETNZ


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