America’s Cup Commercial Commissioner Harvey Schiller informed Emirates Team New Zealand that the round robin phase of challenger selection – the America’s Cup Qualifiers – would not be awarded to Auckland. ETNZ boss Grant Dalton said in interviews that ACEA had previously accepted ETNZ’s bid to hold the AC Qualifiers in Auckland, and that all teams had been informed on 15 February 2015, the deadline for the announcement set in the Protocol. Schiller was quoted by Bernie Wilson of The Associated Press that the biggest reason for pulling the event from Auckland was Team New Zealand “bouncing back and forth on support” for changing the class of boats from AC62 catamarans to a new, 48 foot America’s Cup Class.
Last Tuesday, 31 March 2015, the Challenger Committee voted 3-2 to approve changes to the Protocol to move to the new class of boat, and to change the date for announcing the venue of the America’s Cup Qualifiers. The deadline is now set for 15 April 2015. ETNZ has protested to the not-yet-appointed Arbitration Panel, claiming they have a signed acceptance of their bid, subject to the Host Venue Agreement, terms of which Dalton claims were agreed. But… apparently it was not signed.
While these changes came at the same time, the decision process is different for each:
- changing the class of boat to be raced is done by changing the Protocol. This requires approval by the defender and a simple majority of the challengers. Note that changes to the class rule for the boats would require the unanimous consent of all competitors. But this is not a change to the class rule, it is a change to the Protocol.
- ACEA selects the venue of the America’s Cup Qualifiers and need only consult with the challengers. The only thing the Challenger Committee voted on last week was changing the Protocol to change the date of the announcement from 15 February to 15 April 2015.
Holding the America’s Cup Qualifiers in Bermuda would dramatically simplify things for the competitors and dramatically reduce costs:
- the new race boats may not be launched until 150 days before the first race of the AC Qualifiers, and teams will want all 150 days for test, development and crew training. This means they will launch their boats at the site of the AC Qualifiers. If the qualifiers were held in Auckland, teams would need a base there to assemble and launch, and another base in Bermuda for the America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs and the America’s Cup Match.
- if the AC Qualifiers were in Auckland, the four top challengers would lose about a month of race preparation while their boats were shipped to Bermuda. During this time OTUSA would be permitted to train with their second boat in Bermuda. (OTUSA is permitted to build two boats; each challenger may only build one.)
Tripling Bermuda’s ROI on the America’s Cup?
Holding the America’s Cup Qualifiers in Bermuda would also dramatically improve Bermuda’s return on investment as host venue of the America’s Cup, tripling the time teams would spend there. The teams would arrive in Bermuda in Summer 2016 and launch their America’s Cup Class race boats there in September 2016. They would train in Bermuda before the AC Qualifiers. Then they would continue sailing there through the America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs in May 2017 and the America’s Cup Match in June 2017. If the America’s Cup Qualifiers were held in Auckland, the teams would not arrive in Bermuda until March 2017, and spend less than four months, through mid-June 2017.
Yes, the America’s Cup format is complex!
Read here “How to Win” and I’ll explain how it works.