Negotiating the course kerfuffle

Published on November 3rd, 2020

When the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel ruled in favor the Challenger of Record to eliminate two of five course options, it set off a storm of thunder and lightning within Auckland. Storms are part of the America’s Cup… always best to pack a jacket.

The two courses, alongside the shore for viewing, were also located within a very busy commercial port. When the harbormaster limited their use during the challenger selection series, the Italian team, with the support of all challengers, cried foul.

The Protocol says their races must be sailed “…within the course areas of the Match…” to ensure fairness, and with the restrictions, the Arbitration Panel agreed with the challengers and eliminated the two course options from all use.

The Kiwi defender was livid, saying these two courses were a promise to the city that the America’s Cup would be the most accessible and inclusive edition ever. But when the Ports of Auckland are dealing with commercial freight and cruise ship traffic, their economic impact trumps a boat race that is struggling to deliver on its financial promises

However, this kerfuffle caught the attention of local politicians who are always eager to look good in the eyes of the public, and now after a few martini lunches, Team New Zealand reports how the Ports of Auckland have cleared the way for the racing to return to inner city courses.

Ah, to be a fly on the wall.

In the official statement, Ports CEO Tony Gibson said the change of heart occurred when his team looked again at the impact of racing on the port’s operations. “The situation has changed considerably since January,” explained Gibson. “Because cruise ships are no longer able to visit Auckland, we now believe we can successfully manage freight operations even with closures to the shipping channel for racing.”

Ports of Auckland agreed to close the shipping channel between 13:00 and 19:00 to accommodate a further 10 official race days and six reserve days during the Prada Cup Round-Robin and Semi-Final, ensuring all courses are available to all teams.

However, what is missing from the official announcement is whether this makes a bean’s bit of difference to the challengers. Being popular isn’t what they came for, and if blocking tens of thousands of spectators from watching keeps the heat on the Kiwi team, than would they still do it? Keep that jacket nearby.


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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