History, tradition, and stewardship

Published on December 14th, 2023

There are the subtleties that have sustained the America’s Cup, some of which that have been trampled by recent trophy holders. It is the trustee of the trophy – the current defender – that is to responsibly oversee the event, but the exact holder of those powers has shifted.

Dr. Hamish Ross, who has previous been a legal advisor for America’s Cup teams, and who completed a PhD at the University of Auckland on the legal issues surrounding the America’s Cup, explains the danger in this shift, and how it is causing concern for the event’s future:

A large part of the issue with the current America’s Cup is the near-total absence of trustee (yacht club) responsibility with an assignment of its duties and obligations to its representative with little or no oversight that is legally expected of a trustee. Agreements that fetter a trustee’s discretion are unlawful and unenforceable.

Questions should be asked after the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron reportedly received a gift of a fleet of training yachts from Team New Zealand only days after Jeddah was announced as an America’s Cup event venue, having earlier rejected it as a defense venue.

All agreements, whenever made between competing yacht clubs and their representative syndicates, should be registered and made public so that all stakeholders can hold the Trustee accountable for discharging its legal duties and responsibilities in what is a public office.

I would quote from Oliver Cromwell’s much-quoted speech to the infamous Long Parliament in 1653:

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice; ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government; ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.”

(Cromwell was, of course, himself a famous usurper of legitimate power)

One can only hope for a new trustee who has a better sense of history, tradition, and stewardship in the coming year. To my mind, a NYYC American Magic victory would bring a good deal of much-needed hope for an honorable restoration of the America’s Cup, not having the baggage of a usurpation or a hobbling of a trustee’s exercise of its powers and responsibilities.

But frankly, any challenger which hasn’t tied its yacht club up in legal knots would in my opinion, be an advance of the present state of affairs.

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 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.

Noticeboard: https://ac37noticeboard.acofficials.org/
Additional details: www.americascup.com/en/home

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