Russell Coutts says America’s Cup Protocol, Class Rule and venue won’t be announced in March
Clarification from Coutts: Protocol and Class Rule not delayed.
Russell Coutts told the San Francisco Chronicle that the Protocol and Class Rule for the 35th America’s Cup will not be released in March as planned, but would be delayed to summer while the venue selection process continues.
Citing unresolved negotiating points with San Francisco, Coutts told the Chronicle that the America’s Cup Event Authority is now looking at four other potential venues, including San Diego, Hawaii and a “northern state” venue – presumably Newport, Rhode Island.
America’s Cup challengers unhappy
Selecting a venue is not the only thing delaying the announcements. There have been reports that the challengers, led by the Challenger of Record, Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club, have been pressing for more control over the Challenger Selection Series. There has even been speculation that the defender proposed using the America’s Cup World Series to eliminate all but four challengers. The final four would then compete in the challenger selection series in July 2017, in the new class of yacht, in the venue for the America’s Cup Match. Read more here. It’s hard to imagine the challengers accepting such a plan. Finding the sponsorship needed for a serious campaign would be virtually impossible, since a team could not guaranty it would get past the elimination round. With the AC World Series sailed in different boats – possibly foiling AC45’s – and in different venues, it would serve little purpose in selecting the best challenger to design and build a new boat and race it in the venue selected for the America’s Cup Match. If the defender has proposed these ideas, it’s no wonder the challengers have not agreed to a protocol.
A little history
In 1970, for the first time, multiple challengers were allowed to have a regatta to decide which of them would challenge the defender in the America’s Cup Match. Called the Louis Vuitton Cup from 1983 to 2013, this regatta helped the challengers two ways – selecting the best challenger, and giving the challenger racing experience. New York Yacht Club – defender until they lost the Cup in 1983 – had had these advantages with their “defender trials” to select the yacht to defend the Cup. In 2007 and 2013, the Challenger Selection Series was organized by the defender, giving rise to complaints that the challengers have lost too much control. The challengers now appear to want to run this regatta again, as they did from 1970 to 2003, so they can organize it to improve their chances of a successful challenge.