Women and youth America’s Cup regattas confirmed, using new AC40 class

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS), Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ), the Royal Yacht Squadron Ltd (RYSL) and Ineos Team UK have confirmed that the next America’s Cup event will be multi-challenger and not a one-on-one as has been speculated. And it’ll feature women and youth America’s Cup regattas.

This will be via a new class of boat, the one design AC40 foiling monohull, which organisers hope will help expand pathways into the main event. The women and youth events will form part of the overall 37th America’s Cup event schedule at the host venue.

With the AC75 remaining as the centrepiece of racing for at least the next two editions, the aim of the AC40 is to be a catalyst to accelerate participation from the talent pool of female and youth foiling sailors via separate AC37 women’s and youth America’s Cup regattas, says the joint statement.

“Creating pathways and increasing participation for women, youth and emerging nations is something that has been a priority since winning in 2017,” says RNZYS commodore Aaron Young. “In fact, universally it is seen as something that will only benefit everyone in the sport of sailing and was illustrated in the 20 entries, we received to our mixed crew youth AC that was initially planned for 2021, prior to Covid-19.

“To now be announcing the AC40s as the exciting class that will be used by AC teams for their scale testing and development, match race training, preliminary regattas and then for the women’s and youth events makes complete sense.”

ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton says: “All of the competing teams must purchase at least one AC40 which will be used in the preliminary regattas, and then be made available for the respective and independent women’s and youth regattas to be held at the venue of the AC37 match.

“The yacht clubs of competing AC teams must enter both the women’s and youth events, however entries will also be open to other countries and yacht clubs.

“We would certainly anticipate an entry from the host country, if in fact they do not have an America’s Cup team.

“Furthermore, once the teams AC40’s are delivered by the end of 2022 and early 2023, our hope is that private owners will purchase their own AC40s as we start to build an exciting and accessible class for the future.”

Speculation is rife on social media as to the inclusion of the statement regarding a host nation not having an America’s Cup team, with many commentators wondering if this is the pathway into the next venue being neither New Zealand or the UK. Other commentators have bemoaned the ‘gender-washing’, hoping that there would be gender parity in the AC75 crews, instead of tacking women on the end. The debate about tokenism and what it is, and what is isn’t, remains.

Ineos Team UK’s team principal Sir Ben Ainslie says: “The America’s Cup has an important role to play in expanding access and inclusion for all athletes into sailing. The women’s and youth America’s Cup regattas are an important move forward and a much-needed platform that enables all nations to improve diversity and inclusion in our sport.

“We look forward to creating a pathway in Britain that will support both programmes on and off the water, giving our athletes opportunities for success in competition, whilst also helping to bridge the gap into professional sailing.”

Main image courtesy of ACE Studio Borlenghi.

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