The 37th America’s Cup can wait
Published on November 10th, 2023
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
If moving the America’s Cup from the Defender’s home of New Zealand to Spain didn’t sit well with ardent fans of the team and event, the decision to host a Preliminary Regatta in Saudi Arabia has found a different level of dissent.
The purpose of pre-events was to heighten the marketability of the America’s Cup, and provide sponsors more exposure, but they are a costly endeavor that is in conflict with the Defender’s environmental messaging. There is nothing about transporting people and boats 2500 miles that saves the planet.
And when the event is hosted by one of the world’s worst abusers of human rights, a heinous war is occurring 500 miles to the north, and teams must participate despite threats of terrorism, it all seems a billion miles away from the America’s Cup principle as a “friendly competition between foreign countries.”
But he who holds the gold makes the rules. As the Kiwis got a bucket of money from the Kingdom to guarantee all teams would attend, and with penalties for non-participation which could affect the ability to win the America’s Cup, all five Challengers have paid their entry fee and shipped their AC40 boats.
As for safety, Team NZ chief executive Grant Dalton is proceeding as planned. “What’s happening in Israel and Gaza is terrible, there’s no doubt about it, but we have daily security briefings from a reputable world security company. At the moment, everything is all go.”
Contractually, he may not have any options, and the Swiss Alinghi team is already training at the venue. Since the U.S. federal government had advised against travel, the US Challenger has been silent on their plans. With the event dates of November 30-December 2, there is still time to see if they get on the plane to Jeddah.
This will be the only time the teams will be competing outside of Spain, and Dalton is eager to make a splash. “This is the first international sailing regatta on the Red Sea. Not only that, but it’s the pinnacle of the sport, the America’s Cup. We’re trailblazing in a region that’s the future of the sport, and I take immense pride in being a part of that.
“When you consider the youth population, along with the azure waters of the Red Sea, the conditions are perfect for the growth of all types of water sport.
“Through the joint efforts of the Ministry of Sports, the Saudi Sailing Federation and the America’s Cup, we will work side by side to achieve the objectives of the Ministry of Sports, increase participation and elevate the standards of sailing within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
So, the show goes on, as that is the focus at the moment. The 37th America’s Cup can wait.
Following the publication of the AC37 Protocol and AC75 Class Rule on November 17, 2021, the AC75 Class Rule and AC Technical Regulations were finalized on March 17, 2022. The entry period opened December 1, 2021 and runs until July 31, 2022, but late entries for the 37th America’s Cup may be accepted until May 31, 2023. The Defender was to announce the Match Venue on September 17, 2021 but postponed the venue reveal, confirming it would be Barcelona on March 30, 2022. The 37th America’s Cup begins October 12, 2024.
Teams revealed to challenge defender Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
• INEOS Britannia (GBR)
• Alinghi Red Bull Racing (SUI)
• Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA)
• NYYC American Magic (USA)
• Orient Express Racing Team (FRA)
2023-24 Preliminary Regattas
September 14-17, 2023 (AC40): Vilanova i la Geltrú, Spain
November 30-December 2 (AC40): Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
August 2024 (AC75): Barcelona, Spain
2024 America’s Cup
August 29-October 7: Challenger Selection Series
October 12 – ?: 37th Match (Best of 13)
Additionally, 12 teams will compete in the 2024 Youth & Women’s America’s Cup.