America’s Cup: Italy cancelled, will England be next?

Published on March 18th, 2020

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
The concept of organized test events began prior to the 2007 America’s Cup to keep teams and sponsors active from 2004 through 13 events. Branded as the Louis Vuitton Acts, the concept continued as the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) for the 2013 and 2017 America’s Cup.

The plan for the 36th America’s Cup was to continue the series again, with points accrued used to seed the teams for the challenger elimination trials in 2021. However, the bar was raised as, unlike 2013 and 2017, the boats used in the ACWS would be the same as used in the America’s Cup.

Rather than shipping the AC45 catamarans around the globe, which fit into a 40-container, the full-sized AC75 would be the weapon, and this significant difference has come at a price.

Due to delays in the development of parts for the AC75’s innovative foiling system, each team’s first boat was launched later than planned, which then imploded the tentative plan for one or two ACWS events in 2019. Better days appeared for 2020 with three stops scheduled for Italy, England, and New Zealand, now that is teetering too.

With the COVID-19 pandemic terrorizing the world, and Italy in particular, it took a painfully legal nine page document to confirm the first ACWS event on April 23-26 in Sardinia would be cancelled.

The second event is scheduled for June 4-7 in Portsmouth, which is home to British challenger INEOS Team UK. However, nobody is estimating the virus outbreak will have abated by then, but nobody is also ready yet to fully cancel the European segment of the ACWS.

“We are tracking the ongoing global outbreak of Covid-19 and the enormous impact it is creating on world travel, events and people’s lives,” reports Event director Leslie Ryan. “We are in constant contact with UK government sporting events advisers and for now we are in a holding pattern with regard to event planning.

“The event is not cancelled and we continue to plan but in a considered manner. While we assess and plan, please be assured that we are working incredibly hard to find the best and safest options. Our priority continues to be the safety of our participants, supporters, partners and public.”

As of March 18, the death roll in the UK rose to 104, with the number of people to test positive for coronavirus in the UK as of 9am was 2,626, up from 1,950 – a rise of 676 in the past 24 hours.

Here’s a summary of the Arbitration Panel’s decision regarding ACWS Sardegna – Cagliari:

Cagliari, Italy (March 18, 2020) – Following the submission to the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel by the New York Yacht Club / American Magic regarding its participation in the ACWS Sardegna – Cagliari and the subsequent responses of COR 36, the Defender, and INEOS Team UK, the Panel published today its decision, summarized as follows.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the restrictive measures imposed by various governments the Panel has decided that it has become objectively impossible to hold the ACWS Sardegna – Cagliari event from the 23rd to the 26th of April 2020 and has cancelled the event, relieving the competitors and the organizers from their obligations arising out from the Protocol.

The Panel has also decided that it does not have the power to postpone the ACWS Sardegna – Cagliari, to impose the organization of additional ACWS events or to rule that any sailing blackouts not provided for in the Protocol should occur, since it does not have the power to change the Protocol.

A postponement of the ACWS Sardegna – Cagliari could therefore only be achieved with the mutual agreement of the Challenger of Record and the Defender. As the Defender was not prepared to agree to a change of date of the ACWS Sardinia-Cagliari, the event is now definitely cancelled.

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 (CANCELLED)
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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