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America’s Cup: New York YC announces challenge for AC37

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[UPDATED: 1300 CEST Sunday May 9 with responses from Emirates Team New Zealand and Ineos Team UK.]

The New York Yacht Club has submitted a challenge for the 37th America’s Cup, along with a highly detailed draft protocol laying out how it believes event’s future should be managed over the next 15 years.

The draft protocol runs to 154 pages and includes a proposal that the 37th America’s Cup should take place in New Zealand during early 2024 with racing in AC75s.

More controversially, the protocol also suggests that subsequent editions be run every three years, and that the 38th, 39th, and 40th, America’s Cup taking place in Italy, Great Britain, and the United States respectively – irrespective of who wins the previous edition.

Also proposed is an annual America’s Cup Season Championship regatta featuring fleet racing as well as match racing, as well as a tightening of the nationality rules, self-enforced but auditable budget caps to try to limit spending costs and encourage more teams, and the introduction of an independent board of governors to ‘provide continuity and impartial oversight’.

Read the full American proposed protocol here.

How this challenge and the proposed protocol will be received by the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand and the confirmed Challenger of Record Ineos Team UK (along with their respective yacht clubs) is not clear.

That the Americans seem keen to return for another Cup cycle must surely be good news, but it is hard not to view this as the America’s Cup’s original trustee trying to act as if it was the Challenger of Record and not the British.

The polite but somewhat dismissive statement issued by the British team today would seem to reflect that feeling.

“As the Challenger of Record for the 37th America’s Cup, we are working collaboratively with the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Team New Zealand to write the Protocol that will define the rules moving forward,” said the statement emailed to media.

“We are delighted to hear that the New York Yacht Club are interested in continuing participation in the America’s Cup and we will keep them informed as we move forward.”

Based on that, it’s hard not to read the Brit’s position as being effectively: Thanks, but no thanks.

ROAD TO GOLD AD MARCH 2021 ANIMATED

Similarly, a joint statement issued by the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club, was polite(ish) but also questioned the American’s motives for announcing a challenge at a time when challenges were not being invited.

“RNZYS and Emirates Team New Zealand (as the current Defender of the America’s Cup) welcome the New York Yacht Club’s interest in the next America’s Cup, but questions their motives for such a presumptuous statement when entries do not open for some time,” said the Kiwi’s statement.

“There have been some valid points raised by NYYC, a number of which are already being considered in developing a progressive and forward thinking protocol between the defender and Team UK and the RYS as (challenger of record for the 37th America’s Cup) who are the two parties responsible for developing the next protocol,” the statement concluded.

Put another way: Nice try, but no cigar.

“The America’s Cup is at a pivotal point in its 170-year history,” says Christopher J. Culver, Commodore of the New York Yacht Club in the press release announcing the AC37 challenge.

“The competition for the 36th edition was thrilling, and Emirates Team New Zealand, representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, was a worthy winner. However, the New York Yacht Club, as the original trustee of the event and a participant in the most recent edition, has serious concerns about the future of this great competition.

“The cost of a competitive campaign, the lack of continuity in the class and the inability to plan beyond the current cycle have combined to create a prohibitive barrier to entry, which has manifested in the dwindling number of challengers and public interest.

“While we await further details on the location, timing, and conditions for the 37th America’s Cup, we want to emphatically signal our enthusiasm for a multi-challenger event in 2024.

“Our proposed Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup is the product of months of work and countless conversations with America’s Cup stakeholders, including current and former challengers and defenders. Other established teams that have similar views on the future of the competition.”
“It includes the tools necessary to improve the long-term commercial viability and global reach of the competition, while remaining true to the Deed of Gift and to the spirit of one of international sport’s oldest competitions.”

SEAHORSE AD MARCH 2021 ANIMATED“By issuing this challenge, along with a Protocol, we are presenting a path forward for the event, one that will provide it with the tools to thrive in the modern international sports marketplace.”

“Our challenge is inclusive,” Culver said. “I’ve have spoken with representatives of both the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the Royal Yacht Squadron to assure them that New York Yacht Club is ready and willing to come to the table to help bridge gaps, foster a transparent discussion to adopt some or all of the key components of our draft Protocol and, ultimately, create the framework for a multi-challenger 37th America’s Cup and a sustainable future for the event.”

Main image © ACE | Studio Borlenghi

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