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America’s Cup: Almost seems normal

Published on April 23rd, 2020

The cancellation of the America’s Cup World Series events in Italy (April 23-26) and England (June 4-7) denied the four teams with a measure of their progress, with the global COVID-19 pandemic disrupting their plans in pursuit of the 36th America’s Cup.

They have no more information on their relative performance other than what they already know via differing levels of early reconnaissance. Do they trust their initial instincts? Their current design knowledge and interpretations of the class rule? Or do they change their approach based on certain nuggets of information that contribute to an overall incomplete puzzle?

“We missed the opportunity to see where we are vulnerable,” noted American Magic’s Skipper Terry Hutchinson. “It’s going to require us to lean that much harder on the design side of the program.”

If there is one thing that is guaranteed in the America’s Cup, that is to expect the unexpected, and COVID-19 has certainly thrown the biggest cat amongst the pigeons the event has seen in a long long time.

However, as always, it is the team that can best react and adapt which succeeds, and that will be the test going forward toward the Match in March 2021. In that respect, this America’s Cup almost seems normal…

Here’s an update from each of the teams:

Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)
For the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand, they have the advantage of already physically residing in their hometown which is the venue of the 36th America’s Cup. On the downside of their ledger, the build of their second AC75 has be halted for a painful 5 weeks while New Zealand has been on an Alert level 4 lockdown due to COVID-19. Additionally, ‘Te Aihe’ their first AC75 is still on its European cruise to Italy and back as it has been since late January. Realistically it is still a couple of months away from being on the water in Auckland.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA)
The Challenger of Record, still set up and riding out the national lock down in Cagliari, have continued work at their base making repairs on their first AC75 which had significant bow damage in early March. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team are likely the team that is best set to get back out on the water and testing their AC75. They have made recent indications that their intention is to leave their arrival in Auckland until the last quarter of the year once they have made the most of their testing program over the prime Sardinian summer.

NYYC American Magic (USA)
American Magic, remain in Pensacola (FL) as the US is in lockdown fighting the COVID-19. They have their first AC75 ‘Defiant’ at their Florida base and well positioned to adapt their plans and movements as their options unfold in the global response to the coronavirus. The build of their second AC75 has continued in Rhode Island thanks to some assistance from the State Governor and the Rhode Island Marine Trade Association.

The British INEOS Team UK AC75, like the kiwis, has been on a ship and has just returned to their home base in Portsmouth after their intended summer base in Cagliari was promptly packed up as the coronavirus began to take a hold on Europe in March. Then the decision to unpack and sail in the UK for the summer once lock down passes or redirect the shipment to Auckland as soon as the opportunity arises. The build of their second AC75 has continued around the clock at Carrington Boats. Their Auckland base is the most advanced of all Challengers and is already well into construction, although work has been suspended while New Zealand is in lockdown.

Stars + Stripes Team USA (USA)

Co-founded by professional American sailors Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield, this team insists they are still viable despite not having a finished boat or active crew. Despite this recent contention, the team has not offered any update of substance since March 2019.

Source: America’s Cup Event Limited, Scuttlebutt

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 (CANCELLED)
December 17-20: Third (3/3) America’s Cup World Series event in Auckland, New Zealand
January 15-February 22, 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 6-15, 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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