America’s Cup: Progress is overrated

Published on December 5th, 2019

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
Saying the America’s Cup is expensive is like bringing attention to the grass being green. It is what it is… tell me something new. However, the conversation of cost does come up when participation is low, such as the case with the 2021 America’s Cup.

With one defender, and three challengers (or maybe four, hard to tell with Stars + Stripes Team USA), the next edition is short on participants. While more attention these days is given to making the America’s Cup a show rather than a competition, if participation is what they are after, I’d say there are two drivers:

Inclusivity: The International Americas Cup Class was not too out-of-worldly when introduced, and 10 teams stepped up for it in 1992, with 12 teams when the IACC was used for the fifth edition in 2007. But with rarities like the AC72 in 2013 and the AC75 in 2021, the knowledge base on how to proceed is limited, so figuring it out is expensive. Why roll the dice with a hill so steep?

Talent: When labor is over half the budget, it is the pay scale of previous winners which have pushed up the bar. You need talent to win, and the talented have raised the stakes. Most sports have adapted pay limits to restrict wealthier teams from tilting the playing field, but in the absence of that, the result is either fewer teams or smaller boats.

Without addressing these issues, the America’s Cup may just continue to evolve toward extinction. A report in the Financial Times discusses the growing financial barriers to entry…click here.

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


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