America’s Cup: is the honeymoon over?

In the absence of an independent league office to manage the mischief, the complicated dynamics of the America’s Cup can lead to… complications. While the rules in the protocol ( seek to keep the competition in the middle of the course, the actions of the players often bang the corners for advantage.

When the period for late entries closed on November 30th 2018, and the Kiwi defender reported how an additional eight Notices of Challenge were received by the deadline, that meant some serious cash was about to come in with an entry fee of USD $2 million and a late fee of an additional USD $1 million.

But beyond the fees, more entries translates to more money for the city as bases get built and fan interest fills coffers. Plus, any team starting so late would require design support, a recent trend in which the defender profits by selling technology. All in all, this swell of entries oils the wheels of being the host, which might lead to cutting a corner or two when it comes to the Protocol.

Of this group of eight, only three teams have been revealed, and that might be all that have survived the sniff test. However, the three teams that entered on time, the Brits, the Italians, and the Americans, appear to be sniffing harder to ensure the rules they were required to follow have not been forgotten for the latecomers.

Already, rumours of how the Challenger of Record Luna Rossa (ITA), for years a faithful ally of the New Zealand Defender, is falling out of love. Considering the structure of the event intends for their role opposite the Defender to preserve fairness, you can’t make an omelet without breaking eggs.

Just having a Challenger of Record will be somewhat of a record. When planning for the 2013 edition, Vincenzo Onorato and Club Nautico di Roma (ITA) held the role until they got tired of the Larry Ellison-led Defender and withdrew. The American team also wore out Bob Oatley and Hamilton Island Yacht Club (AUS) in advance of the 2017 match.

As in previous editions of the America’s Cup, the Arbitration Panel now must navigate the nonsense and determine if the interpretation of the Protocol and other specific areas of rule compliance have been followed.

The New Zealand Herald reports how up to three of the six challengers for the 2021 America’s Cup are the target of legal action to be heard by the arbitrators, with a “case underway involving applications in relation to requested Protocol Amendments and the validity of Late Entry Challenges”.

While none of the teams will discuss on the record, sources indicate the case involves late payments by up to three teams – certainly the Dutch challenge, possibly that of Malta and even the US’s Stars & Stripes. These are the three declared late challenges, with the Protocol requiring all entry fees paid by December 31st 2018.

Could the Challenger of Record be asking “Where’s the money?”

In addition to Challenges from Italy, USA, and Great Britain that were accepted during the initial entry period (January 1 to June 30), eight additional Notices of Challenge were received by the late entry deadline on November 30. Of those eight submittals, entries from Malta, USA, and The Netherlands have thus far been accepted. Here’s the current list:

• Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL)

• Luna Rossa (ITA) – Challenger of Record
• American Magic (USA)
• Malta Altus Challenge (MLT)
• Stars & Stripes Team USA (USA)

Key America’s Cup dates:
✔ September 28, 2017: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
✔ November 30, 2017: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
✔ January 1, 2018: Entries for Challengers open
✔ March 31, 2018: AC75 Class Rule published
✔ June 30, 2018: Entries for Challengers close
✔ August 31, 2018: Location of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed
✔ August 31, 2018: Specific race course area confirmed
✔ November 30, 2018: Late entries deadline
March 31, 2019: Boat 1 can be launched
2nd half of 2019: 2 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched
During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
December 10-20, 2020: America’s Cup Christmas Race
January and February 2021: The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series
March 2021: The America’s Cup Match


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