The Latest on the America's Cup - Sail Magazine

The Latest on the America's Cup

Let’s start with the premise that Larry Ellison and his Oracle Racing CEO, Russell Coutts, set out after winning the Cup in 2010 to “normalize” the beast that is America’s Cup competition. Their intent was/is to transform Cup racing into a profitable, predictably organized professional sport.
Author:
Publish date:
 A rendering of the full-foiling AC62s that will compete in the 35th America’s Cup regatta

A rendering of the full-foiling AC62s that will compete in the 35th America’s Cup regatta

Let’s start with the premise that Larry Ellison and his Oracle Racing CEO, Russell Coutts, set out after winning the Cup in 2010 to “normalize” the beast that is America’s Cup competition. Their intent was/is to transform Cup racing into a profitable, predictably organized professional sport. If you are just now entering the conversation, I apologize that we cannot, short of going book-length, paint a full picture of their motivations, the bets they made, the failures, the successes, the tragedies and near-tragedies, the prickly, contentious beginnings to 2013 Cup racing or the brilliant, odds-defying, turnaround defense. Rather, I will point out that while the 2013 match ended on a tremendous high, nothing is normalized.

The beast is not easily tamed.

During its comeback, Oracle Racing was almost caught without a ready-to-go “hip-pocket challenge,” which secures leverage to largely direct the course of the next event. Otherwise, by the language of the Cup’s Deed of Gift, it’s a challenger-driven game. Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club came late to the table, but with Iain Murray in charge—Murray being a longtime player and, most recently, CEO of America’s Cup Race Management for AC34—the challenger has been no pushover. The proof is that release of the Protocol for the 35th Defense was delayed until early June, a full 220 negotiating days after race 17 sealed Oracle Racing’s victory: victory in the name of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, victory for an institution on the San Francisco city front—the spectators’ celebrated “50-yard line” in 2013—a city front that was strangely silent when a 101-word notice appeared on americascup.com confirming the competition’s long-rumored move to a new city for 2017.

Key points of the new program include racing in 2015-16 aboard AC45 catamarans (probably not converted to foils) with about six events per year. As before, the effort to graft a circuit of races onto an eventual match between two boats requires that the AC45 races count, somehow, when racing shifts to larger foiling cats. This time, AC45 racing will seed double round-robin qualifiers in AC62s. From there, four teams will advance to a semifinal round now labeled the “playoffs,” with the first two teams to win five points advancing to a final round that will determine who gets to race in the final America’s Cup match.

What’s new: as of press time, with San Francisco out, San Diego, Chicago and Bermuda remain in the hunt as possible venues, with no guarantee of a final decision soon. Only the playoffs are guaranteed to be staged in the same waters as the match for the Cup. Each challenger is allowed to build one boat to the new AC62 rule. The defender may build two. Strict limits on launch dates and sailing time make that less lopsided than it sounds, but a provision allowing the defender to participate alongside challengers in the qualifying races will likely linger as a festering sore.

On the plus side, the release of the Protocol resolved enough questions to allow Sir Ben Ainslie to officially announce his long-expected British challenge, in association with the Royal Ocean Racing Club. By press time Luna Rossa had also formally announced a challenge and Sweden’s Artemis was fully expected to launch another campaign. That makes four challengers in all. It will be interesting to see how many more sign on by the August 8 deadline.

Related

ElanGT5-a

Boat Review: Elan GT5

Aboard many modern yachts, it can be hard to remember exactly what boat you’re on until your eye happens to light upon a logo. However, this is most definitely not the case with the Elan GT5, a performance cruiser with a look all its own and style to burn.Design & ...read more

01-Lead-P1060210

Handheld VHF Radios

For many sailors, cell phones have become their primary means of both ship-to-shore and ship-to-ship communication. Even the Coast Guard will often ask for a cell number after it receives a distress call. None of this, however, makes a VHF radio any less important—and this goes ...read more

Seascape24

Boat Review: Seascape 24

Since its inception in 2008, Slovenian builder Seascape, founded by a pair of Mini Transat sailors, has focused solely on creating boats that are both simple and loads of fun to sail. With their 18-footer and then a 27-footer they succeeded in putting out a pair of trailerable ...read more

01-Trash-Tiki_in-partnership-with-Subtch-Sports_starting

The Adventurers Aboard Trash-Tiki

If you were in Gotland, a popular island vacation destination off the coast of Sweden, on the morning of July 3, your holiday might have been interrupted by a startling sight: a tiny island of trash approaching shore with people aboard. It was, in fact, a sailboat made from ...read more

atlantic-cup-trailer

2018 Atlantic Cup Video Mini-Series

Atlantic Cup 2018: TrailerThis past spring, SAIL magazine was on-hand to document the 2018 Atlantic Cup, a two-week-long Class 40 regatta spanning the U.S. East Coast and one of the toughest events in all of North America. The preview above will give you a taste of the four-video ...read more

hardangerfjord

Cruising: Holland to Norway

In 2015, we cruised to Norway’s Lofoten Islands on our Nordic 40, Juanona, which we’d sailed transatlantic from Maine to England. Our 2016 plan was to cruise through the Netherlands to the Kiel Canal, sail into the Baltic as far as Stockholm, then cruise the western coast of ...read more

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell.Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.comThe Watch-keeper’s Nightmare The commercial watchkeeper’s most awkward decisions come with a vessel converging from abaft the starboard beam showing a red light. If he’s more than 2 points, or around 22 ...read more

cosair760R

Boat Review: Corsair 760R

We’d only been out on Miami’s Biscayne Bay aboard the Corsair 760R a few minutes when Corsair Marine marketing manager Shane Grover and I began bemoaning the fact neither of us had a GPS with us to determine our boatspeed. Moments later, though, we both came to the same ...read more