America’s Cup: The haves and have-nots

Published on September 6th, 2020

With the cancellation of America’s Cup World Series events in April and June, the first measure will come from the final December pre-event in Aucland, New Zealand. For any challenge teams off the pace, they have less than a month before their selection series is held January 15-February 22, 2021.

Taking an early look at the haves and have-nots is Duncan Johnstone of Stuff, New Zealand’s largest and most popular news site:

Here is how we rank them, with time, the Cup’s most valuable commodity, rapidly ticking away.

The defenders designed the class rule for the radical new boat and have made good progress in squeezing the maximum out of those parameters. They lost valuable time on the first generation Te Aihe that made a round trip to Europe for nothing but cleverly used their small-scale test boat to continue development during that absence. The test boat proved so effective it has remained a crucial tool in transitioning vital elements like foils and sails to the bigger platform, the benefits which will soon be seen with the launch of the second generation AC75 that will be used to defend the cup. Team NZ are also open-minded, saying they will incorporate some of the better features of their opponents’ design philosophies if they see genuine benefits. Crucially, the Kiwis have spent more time on the Auckland race courses than their rivals which will be hugely beneficial. They have looked impressive and increasingly smooth with their foiling. There is familiarity in other areas too – they have retained the core of the crew that proved so dominant in the cup victory at Bermuda 2017 and there is a depth of talent in their sailing squad that is unrivalled by their opponents. The sailors have managed to ignore some serious off the water distractions that have engulfed the syndicate, retaining the sort of focus required for a successful defence.

The big gamble to head to Auckland early is paying dividends for a syndicate backed by the powerful New York Yacht Club. They have quickly established themselves under the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 crisis and have been making the most of every sailing opportunity offered by some generous winter weather. With their second generation AC75 arriving, they now have a significant jump on their challenger rivals to get that up and running on the Auckland waters where their Kiwi helmsman Dean Barker has so much experience. A bit rusty on their return to action, they are now in the groove and have impressed. But they will be wanting improvements with their second AC75 and will look for some design tweaks. With the help of Airbus, their hull has an aerodynamic edge when foiling but its much flatter bottom than Team New Zealand or Luna Rossa, who had the time advantage of the design rule, has drawn criticism for causing too much drag on brief touchdowns.

The Italian challenger of record drew universal praise for their initial design and where they take that now for their second generation boat will be fascinating. But there were early structural problems with the sleek, fast machine as it was dismasted and also lost its bowsprit. Reliability is a major factor in cup campaigns. Rather than joining the rush to get to Auckland, they decided to train at home in Cagliari and, by all accounts, conditions have allowed them plenty of time on the water. But the tradeoff comes now. They have wrapped up training and have packed their first boat on a cargo ship that will take about two months to get to Auckland. Their second AC75 will be flown south in early October. An America’s Cup regular since 2000, they have never won the Auld Mug despite their massive resources. They have imported double cup winner Jimmy Spithill to provide an edge to their sailing team and his competitiveness is always infectious. Luna Rossa are adopting a patient and measured approach, much the way Team New Zealand did with their late arrival in Bermuda. But do they have a magic ingredient like the Kiwis did then with the cyclors that gave them a decided edge?

The buildup has not been kind to the wealthy British syndicate. They produced the strangest looking of all the four AC75s and the whispers are it is comparatively slow. They initiated a compromise, adding a makeshift bustle to the hull to bring Britannia more in line with the theories of the New Zealand and Italian design teams. Expect that to be accentuated when their second boat is revealed. The Brits are already in possession of that new addition though they have not teased anything ahead of its departure for Auckland. A fast boat is imperative as INEOS boss Ben Ainslie found out with his British debut in Bermuda where a lack of genuine speed was apparent from the outset. Put Ainslie and his lieutenant Giles Scott on a boat of even footing and they can work wonders as they showed in their SailGP cameo in Sydney where they were totally dominant. They intend flying both of their boats south and should be operational ahead of the Italians. Their training has been seriously hampered by the Covid crisis. They had to quickly abandon their Italian camp when they were starting to make progress and then had to work around restrictions in Britain on their return to Portsmouth. Now they will lose more time in the transfer south.


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) – WITHDRAWN
• Stars + Stripes Team USA (USA)
• DutchSail (NED) – WITHDRAWN

Of the three late entries, only Stars+Stripes USA remains committed, however, it is unclear what entry payments have been made, nor is there knowledge of a boat being actively built or sailing team assembled.

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, 2020: 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

Youth America’s Cup Competition (CANCELLED)
• February 18-23, 2021
• March 1-5, 2021
• March 8-12, 2021

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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