In mid February the America’s Cup website declared “Protocol and Class Rule Expected in March.” The Protocol sets out the terms for challenging and rules for the way the competition will be run. The Class Rule defines the boats to be sailed. Hamilton Island Yacht Club represented by Team Australia is the “Challenger of Record” and is negotiating these topics with Oracle Team USA of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club. The latest reports give these details:
Boats: Hydrofoiling wingsail catamarans, from 60-65 feet long – most likely an “AC62” – with a crew of eight. Some one design components. Able to foil upwind in 12 knots of wind and downwind in 8 knots.
Venue: San Francisco, San Diego, Honolulu, Newport and Chicago are candidates. Latest rumors say Chicago is the leading candidate. Announcement in Summer.
America’s Cup World Series: Racing in foiling AC45 catamarans in 2015-16 in each competitor’s country. No details on whether these races would affect challenger selection.
Nationality: 25% of the crew must be be nationals. No details yet on how nationality is determined.
Budgets: $60-80 million
Teams: Team Australia, Team New Zealand, Artemis Racing (SWE), Luna Rossa (ITA), Ben Ainslie Racing (GBR) and Team France have all announced their challenges, but only Team Australia, Artemis and Luna Rossa appear to have significant funding lined up. In addition, Team Russia has strong sponsorship, they are racing in the Extreme Sailing Series and they have declared their interest in the next America’s Cup.
– AC Race Management costs to be shared among competitors.
– Umpire, measurers, race officials to have “final say” – does this imply no International Jury?
– AC Commissioner to resolve commercial disputes.
On 10 March, Sandy Oatley of Hamilton Island YC was reported by Australia’s Financial Review as saying that negotiations are ongoing and would be completed by April at the latest. Team Australia CEO Iain Murray mentioned potential challengers from China and Korea, but there have been no announcements of Chinese or Korean teams.
An Interesting “Vision” of the America’s Cup with Many Issues
Also on 10 March, the San Francisco Chronicle reported on Larry Ellison’s vision for the 2017 America’s Cup. He would like to see America’s Cup World Series racing using AC45 catamarans in 2015 and 2016 to select four teams to build and race “AC60” foiling cats in “division championships” in 2017. The “Atlantic Division” championship would be held in Rome for the top two teams from the “Atlantic Division” – Sweden, Italy, UK, France, Germany and Switzerland. The “Pacific Division” of New Zealand, Australia, Korea, China, Japan and San Francisco would see their top two teams meet in Shanghai. The two division champions would then race in the Louis Vuitton Cup in Honolulu to select the challenger. The challenger would race in Honolulu against defender Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup Match. Full story here.
This vision seems to have too many issues to become reality:
- Unless the new AC60 yachts were largely one design, the defender would have a massive advantage: challengers would need to design a boat for conditions in Rome or Shanghai and for Honolulu, while the defender would optimize their design for Honolulu only.
- Challengers could not promise sponsors that they would ever race an AC60.
- Since they would compete in the America’s Cup World Series, the defender can influence which challengers make it through to the division championships.
- Who are the potential leaders of syndicates from China, Korea, Japan, Germany and Switzerland? There has been no sign of syndicates forming in these countries.
- Could any team sell this concept to sponsors?
- Reliable sources say that Louis Vuitton has no plans to continue its sponsorship.