America’s Cup needs the shenanigans

Published on February 12th, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
While the authenticity of the Challenge from The Netherlands for the 36th America’s Cup is being questioned by the event Arbitration Panel, which is rumored to be due to a failure to meet the entry obligations, their involvement does bring back memories from the great cover-up of 1983.

New York Yacht Club, which to date had successfully defended the Cup over a period of 132 years, fought hard for the Auld Mug to remain affixed to its stand on 37 West 44th Street. And during the summer of 1983, they were certain the Australian challenge was a cheat.

Their efforts to halt the Match were centered on the design of the boat, an aspect which at that time was required to be done by a national of the country being represented. While no wrongdoing was proven, it was later revealed how the Dutch had in fact contributed to the design of the infamous winged keel.

When two-time America’s Cup winner Simeon Tienpont (above), who is leading the DUTCHSAIL campaign says, “We have everything in the Netherlands to make it a success,” that statement has roots that go back to 1983 when Australia II defeated the US entry Liberty to end a 132-year US winning streak.

A common sight today, in the early 1980s the winged – or upside down – keel was a very radical concept. Upwind, it generated less resistance due to side force and increased stability resulting from a very low center of gravity

The design had been ascribed to Ben Lexcen, the Australian yachtsman and marine architect who designed Australia II. However, it was in 2009, 16 years after the race, when Dutch naval architect Piet van Oossanen spoke on Australia’s ABC network to set the record straight.

“Ben said to me, ‘you go ahead and do the difficult (design) approach,” said van Oossanen. “I’ll look at the small refinements in the hope of finding a better boat for 1983.’ He came back to us later on – when we reported very good things – but he had very little to do with the winged keel at all.”

In the book, Australia II and the America’s Cup – The untold, inside story of The Keel, Dutch scientist Joop Slooff went further to set the record straight:

“I decided to write this story already 32 years ago, shortly after Australia II’s historical last race, because I thought the world had the right to know, but I never found the time to do it. But here now is the story of my role in the development of the revolutionary keel that won the Cup.”

Old history now, but no sooner do the Dutch get involved again are they embroiled in controversy. Tienpont knows it all well, having been involved in the 2013 America’s Cup scandal with the defender, so perhaps we should thank them for the drama. The America’s Cup can’t just be about speed and tactics to hold our interest. We need its scheming and trickery too.

In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and The Netherlands have thus far been accepted. Here’s the current list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT)
• Stars & Stripes Team USA (USA)

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


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