Ronstan

America’s Cup: Avoiding the flatline

Published on November 17th, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
I was at a dinner party recently when asked for an America’s Cup update. I stumbled through a response, feeling like the information failed to tantalize, but truth is there is not much tangible information to share.

With the launch of four AC75s, we have learned they do sail, which I guess is noteworthy. When the concept was revealed, it was other-worldly, so proof of concept is a headline. And as each of the four teams presented different approaches to the Rule, it either confirmed there are four ways to skin a cat, or three ways to do it wrong. That reveal will come later.

What my response dwelled mostly on was the fifth team, Stars + Stripes Team USA, whose greatest accomplishments thus far is that I am still talking about them. Among the late entries, they remain while two others – Malta Altus Challenge (MLT) and DutchSail (NED) – have withdrawn.

But much like the 2020 USA Presidential candidates for the Democratic Party, it is one thing to launch a campaign but quite another to follow through with it. Ten have already withdrawn, and of the 18 remaining candidates, two thirds are on life support.

Is Stars + Stripes Team USA on life support? Hard to know… they don’t like answering that question, nor will the Defender of Challenger of Record offer an update. The decision by the Arbitration Panel in March 2019 certainly resuscitated them, but if the goal is to win the America’s Cup, it’s hard to see a pulse.

In the absence of another lifesaving act by the event administration, the first America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) regatta of the 36th America’s Cup cycle, to take place April 23-26, 2020 in Cagliari, Sardinia, should be a put up or shut up moment, as Jack Griffin reports in CupExperience News:

Stars+Stripes: Race in Cagliari. Or Else.
Another deadline… Racing begins on 23 April 2020 – less than six months from now. The Protocol is clear: Only teams that race in all ACWS events are eligible for the Prada Cup and the AC Match.

This is one of the few (the only?) places in the Protocol that specify a penalty for a breach. This is not like missing deadlines for entry fee payment – the Arbitration Panel does not have the authority to waive this penalty. For the rules geeks: See Protocol Articles 2.2, 3.1 and 53.10. To read the Protocol, click here.

Remember that the entry fee, late fee, and performance bond all must be paid before they can race. And, as of October, Stars + Stripes Team USA had neither paid the fees nor placed an order for the supplied equipment Foil Cant System and foil arms.


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:

Defender:
• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

Challengers:
• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• INEOS Team UK (GBR)
• 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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