Has the America’s Cup gone off the rails?

Published on September 9th, 2020

Bruno Troublé

Bruno Troublé loves the America’s Cup. He’s been close to the event for over 40 years, first as the French skipper (1977, ’80, ’83), then as the founder and co-organizer of the Louis Vuitton Cup to select the challenger, and later involved in event promotion.

Now as a consultant for Prada for the next Cup, he is thrilled to see a brand aboard which is so respectful of the America’s Cup tradition, values, spirit, and assets. “This is a big change for the America’s Cup after quite a long period with no vision and no links to the extraordinary history of this event,” he notes.

Since the 2007 America’s Cup, which had 11 challengers, attracting interested teams during the foiling era of 2013, 2017, and now 2021 has been limited. This is due to new boat types, which has reduced available skill for design, build, and sail, with these factors contributing to increased cost to compete.

Has the America’s Cup gone off the rails? Troublé does not think so, and shares his view here:

Historically (from 1970), we never had more than three or four teams in a position to win the Cup, and sometimes less. The record was 13 teams in the 1987 LV Cup when raced in 12 Metres, but five of them had zero chance to win, two were fast but underfinanced, three were too slow to be competitive despite a good/strong team, leaving only three boats capable of winning.

It has always been the same!

I remember our efforts within LV to push/help teams to participate. We never gave them any money but we helped them organize press conferences, launch parties, provide air tickets to attend challenger meetings. We knew increasing the number of nations and teams participating was the key to a good television audience and a huge media coverage worldwide.

But we all knew – including those teams – that they had absolutely no chance to win. Many sports are the same, and if you only allow the strong ones to participate, there will be only a few teams on the starting line in any sport.

Yes, for the 2021 America’s Cup, there will only be three challenging teams in the Prada Cup but they will all be strong, well-financed and fast. You can expect the races to be a show you have never dreamt of. The world of sailing will wake up in December when racing starts and will stay tuned until the Prada Cup winner battles against the fast Kiwi boat in March.

Yes, we will miss the colorful teams, the amateurs, the dreamers, the memorable parties…they can’t come anymore. It is a pity but the Cup is still, and has always been, showing the path to the future. The AC75s are crazy but do you really believe the J Class boats such as Reliance or Ranger were accessible? To remain at the pinnacle of our sport, the Cup must innovate, attract the best professionals, and the right support.

The America’s Cup is NOT a one design event, it is not easily accessible, and I am convinced it will remain the leading event of our sport. While we can certainly make some changes such as with a nationality rule, budget caps, format, possibility to sail an existing boat in the following Cup, etc…..but we want to keep the Cup where it belongs: on the absolute edge of technology.

None of us are looking for an America’s Cup sailed on TP52s with 15 boats participating representing 10 countries. That would be the Admiral’s Cup (Google it), not the America’s Cup.

Tout va bien!

Details: www.americascup.com

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

Details: www.americascup.com

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