Oracle Team USA, SoftBank Team Japan, Artemis Racing and Land Rover BAR are already established in Bermuda. Groupama Team France and Emirates Team New Zealand will arrive in February.
January: The four teams already in Bermuda will probably be sailing their AC45X test boats on the Great Sound. They are allowed to train together when sailing these boats. Groupama Team France and Emirates Team New Zealand are stripping down their test boats to build their race boats with most of the components from the test boats.
February: The four teams in Bermuda will probably launch their race boats on 9 February, after taking their 28 day “blackout period.” Team New Zealand and Team France will set up their bases in Bermuda and wait for their race boats to arrive.
February-April: The teams are not allowed to sail their race boats together. Team France and Team New Zealand will not have AC45X test boats so they will need to test and train on their own. Oracle, Artemis, BAR and Team Japan have test boats to sail against their race boats, but with only eight sailors, Team Japan’s sailing team is too small for that – they will probably only sail their race boat. Artemis only lists 11 men on their “sailing team” but the 11 includes helmsmen Francesco Bruni and Paul Goodison. They also have Loïc Peyron and and Stu Bettany listed in other departments, so they could put two boats on the water. BAR list 13 sailors including backup helmsman Leigh McMillan, so they will be able to sail both “T3” and their race boat if they choose. Oracle lists the biggest sailing team with 14. They will be able to sail two boats if they choose. Don’t underestimate the logistical challenge of putting two boats on the water – we may see the teams mostly sailing only their race boat.
May: Racing starts on 26 May with all six teams in the double round robin AC Qualifiers. Each team will race twice on at least two days, and only two substitutions are allowed between races. Remember that BAR starts with two points and Oracle has one, their reward for coming in first and second in the AC World Series. At the end of the Qualifiers, one challenger is eliminated. Oracle goes on to the AC Match while the four remaining challengers sail in the Challenger Playoffs to decide who will sail against Oracle in the AC Match.
June: The semi-finals and finals of the Challenger Playoffs run from 4-12 June. Superyachts, J Class and Youth America’s Cup racing will begin on 12 June. The big showdown, the America’s Cup Match, will be sailed on two successive weekends beginning 17 June. By Sunday 25 June we may have our winner but it might take until 27 June for one team to score the seven points needed to take the Cup.
Later in 2017: Five of the six teams want to start up the AC World Series for a 2019 America’s Cup cycle. There could be AC World Series events in Bermuda later in the Summer and another ACWS event in Chicago later in the year. If Team New Zealand wins, all bets are off – the Kiwis have other plans.