The 36th edition of the America’s Cup has just ended, and after three months of sleepless nights, tacking duels, heart-pounding starts and debates about foils and hull shapes, it’s time to think about the 37th.
As always happens in the America’s Cup, which is a competition that takes place both on and off the water (from the drawing boards of the designers to the courtrooms) the manoeuvres that will lead to the definition of the rules of the next one have already started. For now, the only certainties are the following:
Emirates Team New Zealand is the Defender and Ineos Team UK is the Challenger of Record.
In fact, until the official Protocol is drawn up and published, there will be no further certainties. The two teams have issued a declaration of intent that outlines some key points of the next edition:
• they will continue with the AC75s
• a strict nationality rule for the crew, which allows a team to have sailors of nationalities different from that of the team’s yacht club, provided they have resided in that country for two of the three years prior to 18 March 2021 (but there is a derogation for “Emerging nations”)
• the obligation to build only one AC75 for the Cup
• the establishment of a single Event Authority to take care of the organization of the regattas and commercial activities related to the America’s Cup and Challenger Selection Series
• Defender and Challenger will strive to lower costs to make it easier for new teams to join1 2
On the one hand, these regulations seem to want to discourage, thanks to the stringent rules on nationality, the return of teams with great economic possibilities such as Alinghi and avoid the “stealing” of New Zealand designers and sailors, on the other hand they also want to aim at an overall lowering of costs to encourage the entry of other teams and eliminate what was perhaps the only drawback of the last edition of the Cup, that is the low number of challengers (3 against 11 of Valencia in 2007, just to make a comparison).
In addition to these (few) facts, many bizarre rumours are running after each other, in particular concerning a sort of 1 vs 1 match between ETNZ and Ineos to be played in 2022, again with the AC75s, around the Isle of Wight, with an adjoining “gentleman agreement ” between the two teams to defend – whoever wins the match – the 38th Cup in Auckland in 2024, in a more “traditional” multi-challenger edition, the rules of which would be about those set out in the declaration of intent shown above.
This hypothesis, opposed by all the other teams willing to participate in the next edition (Luna Rossa and American Magic in the first place), however, appears quite impractical. First of all, the AC75s are boats designed for match racing on a limited racecourse and with controlled wind and wave conditions, and therefore all to be tested on such a different course, around an island, with many more variables. The bureaucratic problems also seem almost insurmountable, given that the “uninvited” teams in this two-way edition would not be subjected to any of the prohibitions imposed by the Protocol. For example, they could carry out tests in the wind tunnel or intercept the communications of other teams during training, all things absolutely prohibited by the last edition Protocol.
These rumours must probably be contextualized in the delicate situation in which ETNZ finds itself: Fly Emirates, historical sponsor of the Kiwis, will probably decrease its financial support to the team, which is therefore looking for new sponsors and is trying to negotiate with the Government from a position of strength, and this interpretation also seems to explain the rumours (yes, more probable ones) of disputing the 2024 Cup not in Auckland, but in a location that is willing to guarantee high economic support to the Defender team, a support that will, however, be probably directly proportional to the number of teams involved.3
- Sail-World.com – America’s Cup: New direction for America’s Cup revealed in Protocol outline – link checked on 2021-04-14
- Sky Italia – America’s Cup: Team Uk sfida New Zealand, confermati gli AC75. Il nuovo regolamento – link checked on 2021-04-14
- Thanks to Andy for proofreading the English translation