America’s Cup: Our backyard, their playground

Published on October 15th, 2020

Cameron Dunn

Professional sailor and coach and America’s Cup veteran Cameron Dunn has joined the Live Sail Die team and talks about the development of the AC and the excitement that’s building around the 36th event in Auckland in 2021.

How lucky are we to have the 36th America’s Cup being held here on the Waitemata Harbour over the summer of 2021? I for one am excited to see what type of spectacle this America’s Cup will bring, and what type of racing will we see in these incredible new AC75 foiling yachts.

It’s not without a tinge of nostalgia that I think back to my first America’s Cup memories as a kid learning to sail here in Auckland. The famous 1983 win by John Bertrand and his Australian team, with their winged keel, is one of my earliest memories as an 11-year-old, learning in a wooden Optimist built by my father in the garage for my brothers and I to learn in. I knew it was a big deal, but it was the Fremantle America’s Cup and the Kiwi Magic campaign that really got a young P Class sailor hooked on sailing and dreaming of one day being able to sail on such a beast.

With the success of New Zealand sailing teams in events like the Whitbread Round the World Race, Admiral’s Cup, and the Olympics, the press coverage from Fremantle was huge. The characters involved in the AC game at that time provided plenty of controversy – nothing new to the Cup, really – and good banter to report on, and we lapped it up back in NZ. “Dirty Den” was, of course, our arch enemy although he would later become much loved here.

The Fremantle Doctor dished up fantastic conditions and as a kid I was devastated when Stars and Stripes knocked KZ7 out in the Louis Vuitton Final. The very first page in my sailing scrapbook is a cut-out photo from the local newspaper, with the title “Buoy oh Buoy”, of KZ7 hitting the final bottom mark, dashing all our hopes of a comeback.

The win by Stars and Stripes and Dennis Connor, taking the Cup back to America, led to the 1988 Big Boat Challenge. Although it was interesting in the build-up seeing the huge “state of the art” KZ1 built and sailed, the racing was an anti-climax and, along with the numerous court challenges, took away a lot of the gloss that was built up from the 1987 campaign. 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) – 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, 2019 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 1
September 10, 2019 – American Magic (USA), Boat 1; actual launch date earlier but not released
October 2, 2019 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 1
October 4, 2019 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 1
October 16, 2020 – American Magic (USA), Boat 2


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