Cup Watch: Groundbreaking AC35 Regatta Format

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In a break with the past, the Defender will also take part in the challenger elimination series. Photo courtesy of ACEA 2015/Ricardo Pinto

In a break with the past, the Defender will also take part in the challenger elimination series. Photo courtesy of ACEA 2015/Ricardo Pinto

At press time the world had yet to see the actual boats that will be competing in this year’s America’s Cup regatta in Bermuda. However, it did receive a racing schedule, and in contrast to AC regattas past, the Defender, Oracle Team USA, will be taking an active role in the challengers series—presumably to keep the team sharp for the final matchup, and to help round out a field of just five other boats.

The fun begins on Friday, May 26 with four days of Round Robin 1 “Qualifier” racing between the Defender and challengers Softbank Team Japan, with former Emirates skipper Dean Barker at the helm; Britain’s Land Rover BAR led by Sir Ben Ainslie; Emirates Team New Zealand with Glenn Ashby at the helm; France’s Groupama, led by Franck Cammas; and Sweden’s Artemis Racing, led by Australian Olympian Nathan Outteridge. 

After that comes four days of Round Robin 2 racing followed by a “Playoff” series between the top four challengers, ending Monday, June 12.

The America’s Cup itself—which is being sponsored by Louis Vuitton in another break from the past when the company sponsored the challenger series—begins Saturday, June 17 and will consist of two races a day until somebody takes the best of 13. Traditionalists will undoubtedly disapprove of yet more changes to their hallowed Cup. However, like the venue and the boats themselves, whether or not it will succeed remains to be seen.

January 2017

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