America’s Cup: USA close to layline

Published on June 3rd, 2020

When you enter the America’s Cup, you accept the rules as they are. You might not like them, but that’s why it’s a challenge event. You have to climb the mountain if you want to grab the chalice.

But nobody anticipated a pandemic when signing up.

Both Italian and English challengers are now training in their countries with reduced crew, having installed motors to manage the grinding, a concession to meet health restrictions. As for the Americans, their options were more limited.

With boating allowed at their winter base in Florida, it’s now hurricane season which makes them uninsurable, and there are boating restrictions at their summer base in Rhode Island. So they rolled the dice, shipped their boat to the Auckland event venue, and hoped for the best.

The New Zealand welcome mat is still in the box.

American Magic CEO Terry Hutchinson, forever the wily tactician, remains patient as he waits for the shift in government policy. New Zealand had closed its borders to limit the COVID-19 spread, and as the country’s progress in combating the disease has been significant, his optimism was warranted.

He has praised how the government has handled the health crisis and he has praised the communication which his team has enjoyed. But the team is getting close to the layline, and if that shift doesn’t arrive soon, Hutchinson’s civility will be tested.

Here are updates from the kiwi press on June 3, 2020:

New Zealand Herald: Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has put the brakes on claims America’s Cup challengers’ foreign personnel could be allowed into New Zealand within days – casting renewed doubt on the future of the event, set for March next year. Full report.

Stuff: The Government needs to be upfront about border exemption criteria after Hollywood film crews were allowed to enter the country, a National MP says. The Avatar crew – along with workers for another, still-secret film – were allowed past New Zealand’s COVID-19 closed borders after the Government granted an exemption for them. Full report.

Newsroom: America’s Cup teams’ hopes of winning border exemptions to get their crews to Auckland to prepare for next summer’s big event should be met soon – with applications under consideration by officials and former Team NZ skipper Dean Barker lobbying hard with the immigration minister. Full report.

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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