America’s Cup: Be brave, be bold
Published on March 25th, 2021
Maintaining momentum is difficult for the America’s Cup, particularly when the format continually changes. That’s been the pattern since 2007, but there was optimism that the recently held 36th Match would smoothly segue into the next edition.
However, the cards might be getting shuffled again as a unique concept between the New Zealand defender and British Challenger of Record gains traction. Duncan Johnstone offers his take about the idea on STUFF, New Zealand’s largest and most popular news site:
Team New Zealand should accept the deed of gift challenge to put the America’s Cup on the line in Britain as early as next year. It’s a win-win situation, even if they lose to Sir Ben Ainslie’s Team UK.
The willingness of the British to defend the Auld Mug in Auckland in 2024, if they do manage to beat the Kiwis at Cowes, makes this a no-brainer.
When the concept was first mooted, I thought it was exciting, purely for the romance of taking the Auld Mug back to where it all began in 1851, especially if the race around the Isle of Wight really could be replicated.
It sounded like an event the world would sit up and take notice of because of all the history surrounding it and these radical AC75s bringing a truly modern link to the roots of sport’s oldest trophy.
But the more deeply you consider the idea, the more logic you find.
The biggest problem the America’s Cup has is its regular loss of momentum. The aftermath of Auckland 2021 is already showing that. The party is over, and it’s a long wait till 2024, just when yachting had focus and fascination filling its sails.
Getting a meaningful event to form an interlude is gold, especially to Team New Zealand.
The biggest problem they regularly face at exactly these post-regatta moments is one of survival. A deed of gift challenge offers them the chance of bridging finance, with the extravaganza in Britain an easy sell for someone with the door-knocking skills of Grant Dalton.
Without knowing the details of any other juicy offers moving forward, this looks like an opportunity that is gift-wrapped.
The America’s Cup is always a game of risk and reward. For something as exciting and potentially profitable of this scale, the rewards seem to outweigh the risks. Even in defeat, there could be major benefits.
Coming back to Auckland 2024 to join the challenging fleet wouldn’t be the worst for Team New Zealand in commercial terms alone. A summer of consistent racing allows far more exposure than the 10 races they were limited to recently in their America’s Cup win against Luna Rossa.
The reality is, it would take a huge effort from the British to beat the design-savvy Team New Zealand on the Solent anyway, especially if the Kiwis can get adequate time training on those foreign waters – as they’d be sure to insist on.
Pulling off a coup like this might be the tougher assignment given the grumblings coming from their other current rivals in American Magic and Luna Rossa, who see a deed of gift challenge as a backwards step and one that could take the Auld Mug back to the courts.
I’m no lawyer, but a basic look at the two ugly deed of gift challenges in 1988 and 2010 came when the races were forced upon the defender by two clever opponents who exploited legal loopholes to gain exclusive opportunities.
A defender willingly accepting a deed of gift challenge appears to be another matter in a contest where the holder of the America’s Cup largely calls the tune.
Be brave, be bold … It’s time for the colonials to conquer the old world.
Take the Cup on tour, I say.
36th America’s Cup Match Scoreboard (wins-losses)
Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL): 7-3
Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA): 3-7
Advancing as the winner of the PRADA Cup, the Italian challenger faced the Kiwi defense in the best of 13 series. After the postponement due to government COVID-19 health regulations, the 36th America’s Cup Match racing schedule had two races per day planned for March 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, and each day after that until the first team had won seven races.