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America’s Cup: Where is the leadership?

Published on March 13th, 2020

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
As every sport reports on their reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic, the silence coming from the America’s Cup is disturbing. Given that the competition schedule begins with the first America’s Cup World Series on April 23-26, and that event is in the virus hotbed of Italy, this is a topic not to avoid.

As desperately as the America’s Cup wants to be this public spectacle, with that desire comes an obligation to provide information. The problem, however, appears to be how to do it.

After the Challenger of Record 36 (COR 36) organization reported on the event website how they were closely monitoring the health developments, and stated how there were no elements which prohibit the ACWS Cagliari – Sardinia to take place on schedule, that report on March 10 has now been removed from the event website.

Given how the statement from the Italian challenger was out of phase with the world climate, deleting their statement is pretty out of phase too.

The New Zealand Herald reported on March 11 that the three challenger teams, Great Britain, Italy, and USA, had huddled to determine the best course forward. As the New Zealand defender was excluded from this meeting, they are now not holding their opinion on how to proceed.

“It is quite obvious that the ACWS Cagliari event cannot go ahead,” said a team statement. “The teams are collectively entering discussions on a solution to create an equitable outcome for everyone around the loss and/or availability of sailing time due to the change of circumstance as a result of the global COVID-19/Coronavirus situation. There will be a formal announcement made in due course.”

While cancelling the Italian event seems pretty obvious at this point, what might not be so obvious is what to do next. The initial plan was to have two America’s Cup World Series events in Europe, and if it becomes only one, the travel for New Zealand and USA is a pretty big ask for just one event on June 4-7 in Portsmouth, England.

The kiwi boat is in transit to Italy while the USA team is preparing for travel. My guess is both teams would prefer now to cancel the entire European schedule and direct their training time toward Auckland, New Zealand. Considering there are now reports the Italian’s AC75 has suffered significant bow damage, perhaps they will want to buy some time too. Standing by for an update.

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.

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


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