AC35—Will it be Foiling or Foiled?

Publish date:
Social count:
America’s Cup regular Luna Rossa Challenge has dropped out of AC35 following the decision to go with smaller boats . Photo courtesy of Balazs Gardi/ORACLE TEAM USA

America’s Cup regular Luna Rossa Challenge has dropped out of AC35 following the decision to go with smaller boats . Photo courtesy of Balazs Gardi/ORACLE TEAM USA

It’s ironic that foiling America’s Cup catamarans fly above surface chop, as the waters surrounding the 35th America’s Cup are anything but calm. As SAIL reported in February, AC35 will be held in Bermuda—much to the disappointment of many sailors—but the storm has intensified, with two of the world’s most respected professional sailing teams, Luna Rossa Challenge and Emirates Team New Zealand, either withdrawing or requesting arbitration, and the plans for the AC62 class yachts being usurped by largely one design foiling catamarans that are believed to be 48ft LOA.

Here, the careful Cup student queries: “But isn’t Luna Rossa Challenge the Challenger of Record for AC35?” Gold stars awarded: Luna Rossa’s withdrawal stems from a majority-rule vote—called by the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) and supported by the Defender, Oracle Team USA—to change the already-agreed-upon protocol, which was ratified in July 2014, rather than a unanimous vote from all challengers and the Defender. For its part, Luna Rossa Challenge has already made a considerable good-faith design investment into the AC62 rule—work that the team feels is now lost, and which it also claims contradicts the impetus for the rules change, namely cost containment.

“Sometimes it’s necessary to make decisions that are painful, but must be clear cut, as only these can make everybody aware of the drifts of the system and therefore set the basis for the future: respect of legality and sportsmanship,” said Patrizio Bertelli, Luna Rossa Challenge’s Team Principal.
Luna Rossa now joins the ranks of Team Australia, AC35’s original Challenger of Record, which withdrew in July of 2014 citing spiraling costs.

Also bundled into the protocol change was a decision to relocate the qualifier series from Auckland, New Zealand, to Bermuda—a move that saves most teams money, but which is devastating to Emirates Team New Zealand, which is widely believed to be the strongest challenger afloat. “ETNZ [has] filed an application to the America’s Cup Arbitration Panel in the belief that ACEA has breached their signed agreement and protocol obligations by discarding Auckland,” said Grant Dalton, ETNZ’s CEO.
As of this writing, ETNZ’s participation in AC35 is in jeopardy.

Has the “independent” ACEA gone too far? That answer depends entirely on one’s perspective. Ben Ainslie Racing, Artemis Racing, Team France (which is receiving design assistance from Oracle) and Oracle Team USA have all publicly supported these changes, and the newly announced Softbank Team Japan (which, like France, is also expected to receive design help from the Defender and will even likely draw upon former Oracle Team USA sailors for crew) announced its campaign following the protocol change.

Still, one can only ponder what we can expect from AC35 if two, or possibly even three, of its strongest competitors have foiled-off in frustration, leaving a soft field for Oracle Team USA.

July 2015



Paine Surfs his Finn in Cadiz

Check out this onboard footage of U.S. Olympic bronze medalist Caleb Paine surfing downwind in 30 knots of breeze during the recent 2018 Finn European Championships in Cadiz, Spain. Paine, who only recently returned to Finn sailing after taking a break following the 2016 Games in more


The ICW North Bound Migration Begins

As the northbound migration begins, we are getting some early reports on conditions along the ICW. The overall impression this spring is that after the damages caused by the hurricanes, the winter storms have apparently not made too many additional changes. There is even some more


Charter: Historic Croatia

Heaps of history—that’s not usually what comes to mind when you plan a sailing charter, but if you like a bit of culture mixed with your cruising, Croatia is the place to go. Caught between two worlds, (the whitewashed laid back vibe of the Mediterranean and the brash demeanor of more


Gear: Pan-Pan man-overboard Locator

There He Goes!The Pan-Pan man-overboard locator won a Pittman award for 2017 as a great idea, and now it is in production as the Weems & Plath CrewWatcher. It’s a two-part system that employs a smartphone app to locate a small personal beacon that triggers automatically should more


SAIL 2018: Reader's Photographs

Are you out there sailing, cruising and living the sailing life? If so, we’d love to see it. Send your sailing photos to sailmail@sailmagazine.comAnd don’t forget to sign up for our free eNewsletter.Check back for updates!This was taken from half way across the 26 mile crossing more

Landing Page Lead

The Volvo Returns to the Southern Ocean

Since the Volvo Ocean Race’s inception, the Southern Ocean has made it what it is. And no part of the race says “Southern Ocean” like Leg 7 from Auckland, New Zealand, to Itajaí, Brazil. The 7,600-mile leg, which starts this Sunday, is not only the longest of the event, but far more