America’s Cup: The art of distraction

Published on November 1st, 2020

by Duncan Johnstone, Stuff
Winning the America’s Cup isn’t just about having the fastest boat and the best sailor at the helm. If only it were that simple.

It’s also about having gun lawyers and deep pockets. Particularly when you are defenders, as Emirates Team New Zealand are regularly discovering.

The defender makes the rules, though many are dictated by the Deed of Gift that dates back to 1852, befitting the contest for sport’s oldest trophy.

The challengers push the boundaries and the current crop, headed by Italy’s Luna Rossa, are certainly stirring things up.

The scrap over the loss of the two prime course for public viewing in Auckland is a classic case with the challengers winning the argument in front of the arbitration panel.

Common sense – not always a strong commodity in the America’s Cup – suggests this matter will get sorted out before the gun fires for the opening race on December 17.

But right now the battle has been doing exactly what the challengers want – soaking up precious Team New Zealand energy at a time when they need to be focusing on the launch of their second boat, the design that a nation’s hopes rest on.

The challengers have even cleverly hired former Team New Zealand ace and multiple Cup winner Brad Butterworth to act on their behalf. That takes some of the peripheral pressures off them and adds to the weight bearing down on the defenders.

Butterworth certainly hasn’t been on Grant Dalton’s Christmas card list since Dalton took hold of the sinking syndicate in 2003 when the Auld Mug had been hijacked by a fair few high-profile Kiwis in Swiss uniforms who proved that international sailing was indeed a modern professional sport where money mattered as much as national allegiances. Full report.

Course kerfuffle:
• Luna Rossa tactician Brad Butterworth has hit back at Auckland Mayor Phil Goff saying he needs to fix the stoush between his side and Team New Zealand. After the Auckland harbourmaster restricted challengers’ access to the tracks off Takapuna and Devonport, an America’s Cup arbitration panel ruled they could not be used for the subsequent America’s Cup defense. Full report.

• After the Challengers rejected a proposal by Defender Emirates Team New Zealand to resolve the course kerfuffle and return racing to the inner city race courses, the Defender will now refer the dispute to the Arbitration Panel requesting a formal Mediation of the issue. 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) – STATUS UNKNOWN
• 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
October 17, 2020 – INEOS Team UK (GBR), Boat 2
October 20, 2020 – Luna Rossa (ITA), Boat 2


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