Musical Chairs and the America’s Cup
Published on February 13th, 2020
The quest for the ultimate prize, the America’s Cup, begins with winning the Prada Cup.
Throughout its storied history, the oldest trophy in international sport has evolved to include a Challenger selection series, to determine which foreign yacht club will take on the Defender of the America’s Cup.
The results of the 3-event America’s Cup World Series in 2020 will seed the teams for the 2021 Prada Cup which includes four Round Robin stages and a Repechage Round, with the top two teams to meet in the Prada Cup final.
These Challenger races will take place in January and February, and while the described format is fairly typical for match racing, what is unusual is how the format is set up for three and not four Challengers.
Last time we looked, there were four Challengers: Luna Rossa (ITA), American Magic (USA), INEOS Team UK (GBR), Stars + Stripes Team USA (USA).
Could it be that Stars + Stripes Team USA, which has shown no sign of life, yet insists it is moving forward, is not? While the America’s Cup authorities will not comment on the status of the team, the racing format is.
Musical Chairs is a game with one fewer chair than players, and when the music stops, everyone attempts to take a seat. The person still standing is eliminated… and that appears to be Stars + Stripes Team USA.
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)
• 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 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.
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 (DELAYED)
April 23-26, 2020: First (1/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Cagliari, Sardinia
June 4-7, 2020 – Second (2/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Portsmouth, England
December 17-20 – Third (3/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Auckland, New Zealand
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