America’s Cup: Bring on the thick skin

Published on December 16th, 2020

by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
Commentary is currency in the America’s Cup, and criticism provides the teeth for the bite. The Defender is often the focus of puncture wounds, so when news reports circulated for how Team New Zealand threatened to not accredit some journalists on the grounds of what has been written about them, it brought back memories.

I won’t kiss and tell, but when Alinghi was the defender, I received a very pointed phone call to inform me I was not welcome. When Oracle Team USA was defender, I was threatened with a lawsuit. Being the defender is a tough role, and thick skin can wear thin over time. So can any skin.

The INEOS Team UK will need thick skin as they enter competition. British skipper Sir Ben Ainslie, since his hero contribution for the USA to win the 2013 America’s Cup, has needed thick skin. He launched a team for the 2017 edition that underperformed, and again is at the helm of a team amid problems.

While the AC75 is certainly unique, the British boat is different all together, particularly with its slab sides and blunt bustle. With it laboring during friendly practice matches, the criticism soon followed.

“We are struggling a bit in the lighter winds at the moment, with the take offs and the maneuvers,” he admitted, plus equipment failures have impacted their training time. When asked about the criticism, “In all honesty, being so busy getting ready for this competition, it’s water off a duck’s back,” said Ainslie. “It’s not something that we even consider.”

I want to believe that, as elite athletes live on a stage where the wind blows both ways, but I’ve seen the wrong end of the stick. The America’s Cup raises the ante, but perhaps these teams are better than what I’ve endured before. I hope so.

America’s Cup detailsDecember 17-20 detailsHow to watch

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• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT) – WITHDRAWN
• Stars + Stripes Team USA (USA) – WITHDRAWN
• DutchSail (NED) – WITHDRAWN

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
November 19, 2020 – Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Boat 2


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