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America’s Cup: Entries, payments, and promises

Published on April 3rd, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt
When the entry period opened for the 36th America’s Cup as of the 1st of January 2018, everyone understood the deal. Entries and monies were to be submitted per the terms of the America’s Cup Deed of Gift and the Protocol, the entry period would close June 30, 2018, but late entries were to be accepted up until 30th of November 2018 (with a late fee).

Seemed simple enough at the time, and Challenges from Great Britain, Italy, and USA all promptly stepped up with their war chests to take on the New Zealand Defender.

But there would be silence until the end of November when the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand confirmed there had been an additional eight Notices of Challenge received by the deadline.

The Protocol stated how the Challenges submitted prior to June 30 required an entry fee of USD 2 million, half payable within 10 days of acceptance with the balance paid by November 30. As for the late entries, their fee, which included an additional USD 1 million, needed to be paid in full by December 31st.

Of the eight teams, only Malta, Netherlands, and another USA team would be confirmed, but when it was learned they were not submitting their fees per the schedule, the legitimacy of their entry was put in dispute. Pay up, they said, or get out of the way.

Seems fair enough, right? Apparently not, as when the row was submitted to the Arbitration Panel, which is the umpiring body for the America’s Cup Protocol and other regulation issues, the Panel found that the payment of entry fees was only a condition to their being able to race in the America’s Cup, and not a condition of their being an accepted Challenger.

Translated, their ruling meant that entry fees have only to be paid before the first race of the competition. Huh, okay, but this verdict was apparently superseded by an agreement between the Defender and Challenger of Record which revised the schedule for the late entrants to submit the additional USD 1 million.

The new deadlines in 2019 are $250,000 by April 1 and 750,000 by October 1. So did the three late entries make that first submittal? Who knows, but there is smoke on the water.

• On March 14 it was already reported by the Defender regarding their concerns as to the likelihood of the Maltese Malta Altus Challenge being able to continue.

• The DUTCHSAIL (NED) team distributed a press release on April 1 that basically said nothing, and when I asked if they’d made the entry deadline, I got no response. The fact that they launched a gofundme-type project doesn’t instill confidence.

• The Stars & Stripes Team USA (USA) distributed a press release on April 2 which said they had no plans to withdraw, but not that they made the payment. It also said that Justin Shaffer, who held the CEO position and I suspect helped finance the team, had been replaced by team co-founder Mike Buckley.

• From the New Zealand press on April 2, the Newshub said all three teams missed the deadline while the Herald said none of the teams had withdrawn.

So either they paid the fee or not, and if they didn’t, do they get another lifeline? Or are we back to deadlines not mattering until the competition begins? Standing by…

In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30, 2018), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30, 2018. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and The Netherlands have also 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 (DELAYED)
✔ 2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events (CANCELLED)
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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