Ineos Team UK confirmed CoR as new nationality rule limits crew for AC37

Ineos Team UK and the Royal Yacht Squadron Racing have confirmed that the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, on behalf of Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ), accepted their notice of challenge for the 37th America’s Cup, thus becoming challenger of record (CoR).

The venue will be decided within six months, with ETNZ stating ‘there are a number of different options’, rumours about returning to the Isle of Wight have not been denied.

Ineos has also confirmed it will continue to back Sir Ben Ainslie’s team. It will be the first time a British team has competed in three consecutive cup cycles since Sir Thomas Lipton and the Royal Ulster YC bids between 1899 to 1930.

ETNZ says the AC75 class shall remain the class of yacht for the next two America’s Cup cycles, and agreement to this is a condition of entry.

Also in the agreement is:

  • The teams will be restricted to building only one new AC75 for the next event.
  • A single event authority will be appointed to be responsible for the conduct of all racing and the management of commercial activities relating to AC37.
  • The defender, and the challenger of record, will be investigating and agreeing a meaningful package of campaign cost reduction measures including measures to attract a higher number of challengers and to assist with the establishment of new teams.
  • A new crew nationality rule will require 100% of the race crew for each competitor to either be a passport holder of the country the team’s yacht club as at 19 March 2021 or to have been physically present in that country (or, acting on behalf of such yacht club in Auckland, the venue of the AC36 events) for two of the previous three years prior to 18 March 2021. As an exception to this requirement, there will be a discretionary provision allowing a quota of non-nationals on the race crew for competitors from emerging nations.

There has been no definition offered as to an emerging nation – whether this is in socio economic terms, or sailing hierarchy.

Rule69blog believes a single event authority responsible for all racing is right, and desperately needed.

“Cost cutting is on the agenda – and my goodness that’s critical but people are still the most costly element of a campaign. So could we see a salary cap? And the confirmation that teams can only build one new boat is an immediate saving but what a headache for the designers.”

Expressions of delight

The challenge letter was signed on 17th March 2021 onboard the yacht Imagine, by Bertie Bicket, chairman of Royal Yacht Squadron Racing and accepted by Aaron Young, commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club. This seemingly took place as ETNZ crossed the finish line to win the America’s Cup for the fourth time.

(R-L) Aaron Young, commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club, Bertie Bicket, chairman of Royal Yacht Squadron Racing and Sir Ben Ainslie

“Ineos Team UK are committed to working alongside ETNZ and our respective yacht clubs to continue the development of this historic event,” says skipper Sir Ben Ainslie.

“The introduction of the AC75 class of yacht has proven to be a transformative moment in the history of the America’s Cup and will be the bedrock of a really bright future.”

“The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron have received and accepted a challenge for the 37th America’s Cup from our long-standing British friends at Royal Yacht Squadron Racing,” says Aaron Young – RNZYS commodore.

“It is great to once again have the RYSR involved, given they were the first yacht club that presented this trophy over 170 years ago, which really started the legacy of the America’s Cup. Along with ETNZ, we look forward to working through the details of the next event with them. “

A protocol governing AC37 will be published within eight months.

New Zealand scrambles to keep cup match

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Herald reports that its government has until June to negotiate a deal to keep the next challenger series in Auckland as there is a three-month good faith negotiation period.

The minister responsible for the America’s Cup, Stuart Nash, told Newstalk ZB the government would ‘love to be back for more’ but economic factors could determine the final outcome.

“It would be disappointing to see it head offshore but the economic reality may mean in this covid time that the government hasn’t got the money to stump up and hold it,” says Nash.

The NZHerald says its government, and Auckland Council, injected NZ$249.5m into the latest cup campaign, with the government contributing NZ$136.5m for construction, the event fee and commercial and base-related costs.

The council alone spent NZ$113m to host the event, with NZ$71.7m going into building team bases and the upgrade and expansion of superyacht berths and a NZ$34m share of the commercial and base-related costs.

The council also brought forward NZ$100m of planned infrastructure projects at the waterfront.

Nash says the NZ$5m injection the government announced earlier this week was to ensure the team did not disappear to competing syndicates.

“In our agreement with ETNZ there is a three-month good faith negotiation period so what we will then do is sit down with ETNZ and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and negotiate about keeping the cup, hopefully, in New Zealand for the next America’s Cup.”

Former America’s Cup sailor Dan Slater told Newstalk ZB that “the billionaires are circling thinking our own ETNZ are probably, on paper, vulnerable.”

It’s likely sponsor Emirates will be considering the impact of the pandemic on its plans.

“So Emirates, to the outside, look quite vulnerable so who knows? The people who really want to get their hands on the America’s Cup are probably circling right now like sharks,” says Slater.

“Money talks in the America’s Cup game.”

Reaction around the Solent

When asked about the speculation about a round Isle of Wight race, a member of Ineos Team UK told the Portsmouth News that more information will come to light when things become ‘concrete’.

But leader of Portsmouth City Council, Cllr Gerald-Vernon Jackson, said it would be ‘hugely exciting’ if it were to happen.

“It would certainly be great news to have the America’s Cup back here, even if it’s a very different sort of race.

“People love having the cup take place here, and even though it might not be possible to see them up close as they race around the island, it would still be hugely exciting to have some action for spectators.

“I imagine this would be a bit further down the road but amazing potential news for the city.”

The AC events previously brought in £38.7m for the city, according to the Portsmouth News.

Isle of Wight MP, Bob Seely, told the County Press that he is cautious.

“I am aware of the rumours that the America’s Cup maybe coming to Cowes in the second half of next year. I hope it is. It is only a rumour and the situation may change.

“New Zealand have the right to host. Let’s wait and see. I know that our sailing ‘ambassadors’ in New Zealand have been representing the Island extremely well.

“However, clearly I would be extremely supportive of the America’s Cup coming here.”

This is looking like a straight fight – Auckland versus the UK, says rule69blog. And either venue would be magnificent.

“AC75s blasting around Solent waters and showpiece races around the Isle of Wight would be monumental. And mental. Racing in Auckland would be logical and the biggest ‘thank you’ to the wonderful Kiwi people for this event imaginable.

“The ball is firmly in the New Zealand government’s court. Do they smash it down the middle or go wide to the tramlines? Bet on a deal at two minutes to midnight.”

The America’s Cup was first contested in 1851 in Cowes, Isle of Wight and organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron, predating the modern Olympic Games by 45 years. The last British challenger of record to compete in an America’s Cup was the 12m, Sovereign in 1964.

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