America’s Cup: Seeing is believing

Published on January 15th, 2020

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The commitment of teams to win the America’s Cup is matched by their eagerness to hide how they’ll do it. However, the era of skirted hulls to protect design secrets has been replaced by the “share era” in which exposure is almost as important as hoisting the trophy.

But with boats now flying, there is little left to hide, and with heightened commercialization, allowing the public “in” creates interest in the America’s Cup. That is, unless you are Stars+Stripes USA.

With four teams on the water now for several months with their AC75s, this remaining American challenger has kept the lights off and the door shut. When trying to offer insight, I get shrugged shoulders from the Defender and Challenger of Record, and receive email from the team labeled ‘OFF THE RECORD, PRIVATE, AND CONFIDENTIAL, yet offering little information.

Since the submission of their entry by the final deadline on November 30, 2018, the USA team’s continued existence is seemingly due to a decision by the Arbitration Panel that full fees need not be paid until they compete, and competition within the Protocol of the 36th America’s Cup begins at the 2020 America’s Cup World Series on April 23-26 in Cagliari, Italy.

But to compete you need to build a boat, launch a boat, test the boat, train in the boat, transport the boat… you need to do a lot of stuff that can’t seem to happen by April if you haven’t begun now. If any of these steps have occurred, nobody is saying.

So will the rules of the America’s Cup get rewritten (again) to allow their participation? As much as I’d love to see this team compete, particularly with their mission to be an all-American team eager to inspire the next generation, I have full sympathy for the three other Challengers that have gone to great expense and effort to follow the rules as originally written.

So until this team decides to open the door, here some highlights:

December 20th, 2018 – Public tryouts planned for Stars & Stripes Team USA
January 17th, 2019 – Stars & Stripes Team USA Unveils Design Process
February 1st, 2019 – America’s Cup: Forming the USA roster
April 29th, 2019 – America’s Cup: Young Cuppers Regroup
June 30th, 2019 – America’s Cup: No quit for Long Beach Yacht Club
October 8th, 2019 – America’s Cup: Reality show goes sailing
November 17th, 2019 – America’s Cup: Avoiding the flatline

36th America’s Cup
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 allegedly made 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. However, it is not yet confirmed if they have paid the fee, nor is there any knowledge of a boat being actively built or sailing team training as of January 8, 2020.

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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