The heads of five of the six teams met in London last week to announce that their yacht clubs have signed a Framework Agreement outlining the next two editions of the America’s Cup, to be held in 2019 and 2021.
Racing will be held in a modified version of the AC Class yachts being used in 2017 (more details below). No surrogate test boats will be allowed. AC45F’s will be raced in the AC World Series until August 2018. From September 2018 onwards the new version AC Class yachts will race in the ACWS. The ACWS will include fleet racing and match racing. The final ACWS event will be held in the venue of the America’s Cup Match and the Challenger Playoffs will start right afterwards, followed by the Match.
The AC Class rule will be modified to allow racing in a wider wind range – 4 to 26 knots. This probably means adding a gennaker for light conditions and having a smaller wing for heavy air days. Remember that the original version of the AC72 Class Rule included a heavy air wing. The smaller wing was dropped from the rule, a move later regarded as a mistake, given the number of races cancelled due to wind above the limit in San Francisco in 2013.
The yacht clubs represented by Oracle Racing, Land Rover BAR, Groupama Team France, Artemis Racing and SoftBank Team Japan have agreed that if one of them wins the America’s Cup Match in Bermuda this June, they will only accept a challenge from a yacht club that has agreed to these terms. That could be one of them, a new team, or Emirates Team New Zealand, should the Kiwis change their minds and agree to these terms. The fly in the ointment is that if the Kiwis don’t agree to these terms and then go on to win the America’s Cup, this framework goes out the window. Such is the America’s Cup.