God Bless and Embolden the Underdog

Published on November 11th, 2019

by Lynn Fitzpatrick
Tight score lines, come from behind victories, champions on a roll, and well-financed teams mounting the podium to hoist a trophy and spray magnums of champagne over one another abound in competitive sailing.

However, summaries of the most closely fought regatta battles don’t hold a candle to that of the under-financed underdog casting a wide net, dialing for dollars, knocking on every door, and refusing to hear the doubting Thomases.

Funding has been a non-starter for countless expeditions and campaigns. Sir Ernest Shackleton, Thor Heyerdahl, Sir Peter Blake, Dame Ellen MacArthur, and Dame Tracy Edwards are just a few accomplished individuals who struggled mightily to go beyond the pats on the back and “that’s a noble ambition, let me know when you get in,” platitudes, to cobble together the seed capital necessary to will their dreams to become reality.

Our heroes don’t start out with fully equipped boats. They are usually from humble beginnings. Once exposed to something, they begin to think big. They study. They save. They start small. Then they begin to champion their absurd idea, even beyond the eleventh hour.

Mike Buckley and his vision for an all American America’s Cup team is sailing’s current cat with nine lives. With not much more than a big idea and a match racing world champion willing to throw his name and image behind the cause, Buckley not only secured a yacht club burgee, he got a golden ticket from the America’s Cup organizers. His application for the 36th America’s Cup was accepted without billionaire backing.

Mike Buckley

Known as Stars + Stripes Team USA, nearly a year has passed and it is unclear what fees have been paid, but it is certain that while other teams are carrying zero balance, the America’s Cup organizers are helping to keep Buckley in the game.

But to win the America’s Cup, time is money. While the other four teams focus on their own campaigns, and now are training on their boats, the question lingers as to what is Stars + Stripes doing to win the America’s Cup?

More so, what happens when they ultimately do not pay ETNZ for the base boat design package, pay its boat builder, or participate next year in the only scheduled 36th America’s Cup preliminary event in Europe?

May you keep marching to your own drummer; continue to garner endorsements, backers, sponsors, partners, and reality TV show commitments until the clock runs out and the billionaire-backed “super teams” love and need you so much that they vote you in, publish another Protocol amendment, and support you in giving life to the best story of this America’s Cup.

Who knows, your determination and grit may be the elixir for the America’s Cup? Your big, underfunded idea is no folly. It’s courageous. It’s wonderful and so absurd that even Einstein would find hope for it.

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 were also accepted. Here’s the list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

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

Of the three late entries, only Stars+Stripes USA remains committed, but they still must complete the entry fee payment process before they will be eligible to race. They have already paid their initial payment but as a late entry challenger under the Protocol they also have a liability to pay a US$1million late entry fee due in installments by October 1, 2019. This deadline coincided with the venue schedule which has the construction of their team base beginning in late 2019, which we assume was done in the event the team is unable to fulfill their payment deadline. However, it is not yet confirmed if they have paid the fee.

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 events (CANCELLED)
October 1, 2019: US$1million late entry fee deadline (NOT KNOWN)
February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched
April 23-26, 2020: First America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari, Sardinia.
During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series 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

AC75 launch dates:
September 6 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 1
September 10 – American Magic (USA), Boat 1; actual launch date earlier but not released
October 2 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 1
October 4 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 1

Details: www.americascup.com

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