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America's Cup Protocol- Significant changes to accommodate new Events

by Richard Gladwell on 13 Sep 2010
The revised America’s Cup Protocol governing the 34th Match .. .
The creation of an America's Cup World Series has led to some significant changes in the Protocol for the 34th America's Cup which was released in Valencia at 1.00pm local time.

The changes have been required to allow for a new class of yacht, in fact two new boats, along with philosophy of ensuring continuity in the event, rather than the style of the match being reset by each new Defender. The document has reduced in size from the original - now being 41 pages down from the original 56 page edition. However it silent on the conduct of the Challenger and Defender Selection Series, which will be determined later.

A perpetual entity, America's Cup Race Management has been formed which provides for independent, professional and neutral race management. This entity takes over from the old America's Cup Properties Inc, which was previously transferred from Defender to Defender and really only owned the Cup Marks (the patented symbols, logos and brands associated with the America's Cup).

ACRM will take forward up to 5% of the surplus revenue towards the 35th America's Cup.

A new regatta circuit the America's Cup World Series has been formed which will be sailed each year and will be run by the same Protocol governing the America's Cup itself. Interestingly the Protocol calls for a series of regattas to be run before the 34th America's Cup, and also after the event in what is left of 2013.

The vexed issue of a Surrogate Yacht - use of which is controlled by the Protocol has been defined as any catamaran that is greater than 10 metres LOA (about 33ft) which is very small - and the previous Olympic multihull the Tornado catamaran was 20ft long. Tank testing is restricted to models a third size or less.

The Challenge window opens in six weeks time on 1 November and closes on 31 March 2011, late challenges may be accepted, at the discretion of Golden Gate Yacht Club and the payment of a late entry fee.

The high entry fees and performance bonds remain, however Teams who enter who are also part of the World Sailing Teams Association will have their shareholding in that body offset against their entry fee of EUR1.0million (two performance bonds of USD1.5million are also payable, however these are refunded if the competitor meets the requirements of the bond.) Under the conditions of the bond, competitors are required to race in all events for which they are eligible which includes all AC World Series regattas outside the actual America's Cup and the Selection Trial series.

A Competitor Forum will be established on which each team will have one vote. It is not certain if the decisions of the Forum are binding - it being more of a consultative body.

Interestingly the Protocol raises the option of the Match being sailed in more than one Venue, with it being effectively a best of nine regatta.

An America's Cup version of the International Sailing Federation's Racing Rules of sailing will be used for the events.

There will be three AC World Series sailed in 2011, seven in 2012 and three in the year of the America's Cup, 2013. The winner of each series will be called the America's Cup World Champion for that year, but presumably not be awarded the America's Cup which will still stay with the Match itself.

Each AC World Series regatta will be a combination of Match and Fleet racing as was the case with the Acts leading up to the 32nd America's Cup in Valencia. The AC72 yachts will not be sailed until after 30 March 2012, and the one design AC45 class will be used in the buildup in 2011 and first quarter of 2012.

Competitors are allowed to sail one or two yachts in the AC World Series Regattas. Crew size is reduced from 17 in the monohulls used in the 32nd America's Cup to 11 for the AC72 class.

Both the AC45 and AC72 class have been designed for ease of transport, and will have to fit into defined shipping cradles and containers. A maximum of two chase boats per team are allowed.

No sailing periods have been specified for both the AC45 class and AC72 class presumably in an effort to contain costs. Each team is restricted to the ownership of two AC72 yachts , the second of which cannot be launched 1 November 2012 - restricting the amount of two boat testing that can be conducted.

Masts are now defined as 'mast sections' and each competitor is allowed eight sections, which cannot be altered by more than 30% to avoid being rated as a new mast section. For AC World Series yachts will be required to ship a minimum of two wings.

A single website will run the web side of the event - with all teams being required to host their team site on the main America's Cup website. The intention of this rule is to build traffic around the single entity rather than having it split across ten or 12 different websites. (In reality the main AmericasCup.com website has always had the highest traffic by a big margin, and the audiences going to the individual team sites has been relatively low. Quite how this will be managed will be interesting to see.)

Substantial other media controls have been put into the Protocol, designed to channel comment and interviews in the first instance through the Event Organisers.
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