Women’s and Youth America’s Cup formats announced
Expected to be among the highlights of the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona in 2024, women’s and youth America’s Cup regattas will be part of the event schedule for the first time.
After originally being confirmed in September, further details of the two new AC40 class formats were announced on Tuesday (5Jul22).
Both the women’s and youth America’s Cup regattas will be sailed on the America’s Cup racecourse off the Barcelona waterfront during the final stages of the Challenger Selection Series and the opening of America’s Cup match itself.
The initial scheduling shows the women’s America’s Cup final match race being held on a race day of the America’s Cup match itself. Organisers say this guarantees “prime-time exposure before the expected large crowds along the Barcelona waterfront and across the media platforms and broadcast.”
Both women’s and youth regattas will be contested between 12 teams split into two pools of six for an initial fleet race series. The first pool will be comprised of the teams entered and competing in the America’s Cup, the second pool will then be formed by the independent yacht club entries that qualify to enter under the nationality clause of the 37th America’s Cup Protocol.
Both pools will race a series of 6-9 fleet races with the top three teams from each pool progressing to the final series of 3-4 fleet races to decide the top two teams to compete in a single match-race final to determine the overall winners of each event.
Racing will be in a fleet of six one design AC40s supplied by the America’s Cup teams. Off the water, a shared shore and technical support team will be provided by the organisers to facilitate cost savings and to ensure consistency across the fleet.
“As we have always intended, the women’s and youth America’s Cup events are going to be major draw cards of the 37th America’s Cup, and we want to give them the exposure these athletes and teams deserve,” says America’s Cup event CEO, Grant Dalton. “It won’t just be the fans and audience who are watching these events, the teams themselves will be keeping a laser-focus on the emerging talent with an eye towards the make-up of their teams for the 38th America’s Cup.”
For the youth cup, the crews can be made up of male, female or mixed crews all of whom are required to be aged 25 and under on the first race of the match. There will be no age restriction for the women’s regatta.
The crew nationality requirements of the 37th America’s Cup Protocol shall apply for both regattas. 100 per cent of the crew sailing each yacht in each race shall be nationals of the country of the yacht club that the team represents.
However, with a view to growing the sport globally and furthering its appeal to independent yacht club entries, organisers have confirmed a team may be considered to be from an ‘Emerging Nation’ or be eligible to receive a dispensation from the crew nationality requirements to allow a specific number of approved non-nationals to compete as crew onboard the AC40.
Entry criteria and expressions of interest will open to prospective teams on October 1st, 2022. In a media statement, organisers say teams are already starting to form over the northern hemisphere summer. “The women’s and youth events promise to offer essential clues for the future of the America’s Cup and provide the platform for the next generation of sailing’s stars to shine on the biggest stage,” the statement adds.
When AC37 kicks off in 2024, Barcelona will become the first venue in the world to host both an Olympic Games and an America’s Cup event. The venue was confirmed after a contentious selection process. Team New Zealand considered other final bids from Malaga in Spain, Cork in Ireland, and a big-money bid from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. The Irish government eventually withdrew the Cork bid, citing that “necessary infrastructural and planning arrangements” would not be in place to host the event in time.
A second consecutive cup regatta in Auckland had been mooted, but the prospect seemed increasingly unlikely after Team New Zealand failed to raise enough money to stage a competitive defence of the title they won last year on home waters, with a 7-3 victory over Luna Rossa.
Last year, Team New Zealand officially rejected a NZ$99 million (£52m) bid from the New Zealand Government and Auckland Council to host AC37.