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America’s Cup: Where do we go now?

Published on May 19th, 2021

The moment Team New Zealand crossed the finish line to win the 36th America’s Cup, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron accepted the challenge presented by Royal Yacht Squadron Limited. What comes next? Jack Griffin of CupExperience News refreshes our memory of what has been announced for the 37th edition:

• The Protocol will be published by mid-November 2021.
• The venue will be announced by mid-September.
• Dates will be announced by mid-November.
• The AC75 yachts will be used for the next two America’s Cup cycles, and agreement to this is a condition of entry.
• Teams may build only one new AC75 yacht for AC37.
• A new Crew Nationality Rule will require 100% of the race crew to hold the passport of the country of their team’s yacht club, or to have met the physical presence rule that was in effect for AC36. “Emerging Nations” will be given a quota of non-nationals in their race crew.
• Unlike AC36, there will be one Event Authority to run all racing and manage all commercial activities. This was first used by Alinghi for the 2007 America’s Cup and again by Oracle in 2013 and 2017. For AC36, the Challenger of Record organized all the racing except the America’s Cup Match, and presenting sponsor Prada controlled much of the commercial aspects of the event.
• The Defender and the Challenger of Record are exploring cost reduction measures, hoping to attract more challengers.

The nationality rule is notable as it comes from two teams that can easily fulfill it. While the benefits are to heighten interest and promote excellence within the entrant’s country, the downside is it limits opportunity for sailors without an entrant in their country, or from team founders without sufficient national talent. Jack provides the history of nationality within the America’s Cup:

• There was no crew nationality rule in effect before the 1983 match.
• In 1851 America had a British pilot and six British sailors on board to help win the £100 Cup.
• In 1895 and 1899, it was headline news to have an all American crew on the the New York York Yacht Club defenders, but by 1901 they were back to hiring Scandinavian fishermen.
• After American sailor Andy Rose sailed as tactician with Alan Bond’s Australian challenger in 1977, the New York Yacht Club decreed, through an “interpretive resolution,” that all sailors and designers had to be “nationals.”
• By 2003 “nationality” was easy but expensive to acquire: by having a residence in the country for as little as 18 months.
• Nationality rules were dropped for the Cup matches in 2007, 2010 and 2013.
• For 2017, Oracle added back a requirement for one (!) of the six crew on the AC50’s to be a passport holder.
• Team New Zealand re-instituted a stricter nationality/residence rule for 2021, but only INEOS had 100% passport holders on board in Auckland.
• For the current cycle, AC37, the 2021 rule will be retained, but “emerging nations” will be allowed to have foreign sailors.

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