Following the announcement last Thursday by Mascalzone Latino principal Vicenzo Onorato, that he was pulling out of the 34th America's Cup for financial reasons, a new Challenger of Record has been appointed.
While Mascalzone Latino, the team of the Challenger of Record, Club Nautico di Roma, had raised some sponsorship it was not sufficient for them to mount a competitive (read 'winning' ) challenge and the team principal made the decision not to proceed further.
No announcement was made at the time by America's Cup organisers, or the Challenger of Record club itself. For an organisation which seems to produce a media release every time a sail is hoisted, the silence was out of character.
Instead they talked off the record of the Club picking up a new Italian team, or continuing to be involved in the same way that Royal Thames was involved in 1974 after the British boat did not proceed. Both options were fanciful in the current America's Cup situation, and the obvious option was for the role to pass to the second team to Challenge, as provided in the Protocol.
That club was Royal Swedish Yacht Club (Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet, KSSS), represented by Artemis Racing, which five days later has become the Challenger of Record for the 34th America’s Cup.
The Challenger of Record is the first team to lodge a Challenge for the next America's Cup, and typically this happens immediately after the conclusion of the last race, and is pre-arranged between the expected Defender and a club with who they believe they can negotiated a Protocol in terms that are acceptable to the Defender. In the case of Club Nautico di Roma this involved signing off on the proposal from Oracle Racing to sail the next match in 72ft catamarans - this first time multihulls had been used in a Multi Challenger, Mutual Consent match.
Once negotiated that Protocol sets the foundation stones under which the next America's Cup will be conducted, and once announced only minor changes are made to the structure of the competition. Once the elimination series starts to find the Challenger for the Match, the Challenger of Record changes as the team is eliminated, and the next remaining Challenger in order of filing their Notice of Challenge steps into the role.
It is not believed that there will be any significant changes to the Protocol, governing the America's Cup as a result of the transition to the new club, who are believed to be 'friendly' to the Defender, Golden Gate Yacht Club. In their letter of acceptance, KSSS have, in fact, confirmed that they accept the provisions of the Protocol negotiated between CNdR and GGYC.
BMW ORACLE Racing - Race 2 - As USA crosses the finish Line, GGYC accept the Club Nautico di Roma as challenger of Record , l. to r. : Melinda Erkelens (GGYC) - Norbert Barjurin (GGYC) - Marcus Young (GGYC) - Alessandra Pandarese (Club Nautico di Roma)- Vincenzo Onorato (Club Nautico di Roma) as USA crosses the finish Line, GGYC accept the Club Nautico di Roma - BMW Oracle Racing © Photo Gilles?nid=83600
Martin-Raget Click Here to view large photo
The America's Cup organizers would claim that their hands were tied by the fact that the Italian club actually had to formally withdraw, (even though its team had already gone), before they could move.
According to the Media Release that moment happened only today. The release goes on to say: America’s Cup Defender, Golden Gate Yacht Club, informed Murray (Iain Murray, Regatta Director) of the withdrawal by the Italian yacht club Club Nautico di Roma (CNR) earlier today.
'We also thank CNR and their team Mascalzone Latino for their efforts in the important start-up phase of the 34th America’s Cup. While we are disappointed to lose a great Italian contender in Mascalzone Latino and CNR, we are confident in the leadership we anticipate from the KSSS and Artemis Racing.'
CNR filed the first challenge for the 34th America’s Cup and thereby became the 'Challenger of Record.' KSSS was the second challenger to enter, and under America's Cup rules, automatically succeeds as Challenger of Record.
Writing in The Independent, top international yachting correspondent, Stuart Alexander
commented: For the first time in its long history, the America’s Cup is to see the resignation of the Challenger of Record and the appointment of a replacement.
There have been occasions when the lead challenger has failed to bring a competing boat but, for the 34th running of an event which was born out of a race round the Isle of Wight in 1851, the announcement by the Italian team Mascalzone Latino that it would not take part in the 34th defence in 2013 has led to a step change.
As teams have to represent yacht clubs, it is the Club Nautico de Roma which resigns the role and the Royal Swedish Yacht Club, whose flag is carried by the Artemis Challenge, would take over at the invitation of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, which is represented by the cup’s holder, Oracle Racing.
Artemis is headed by oil billionaire Torbjorn Tornqvist, who has appointed Californian Paul Cayard as his CEO. Cayard is a long-time collaborator with the Oracle team’s CEO, Russell Coutts, appointed by Oracle boss Larry Ellison to plan the downfall of the cup’s previous holder, Ernesto Bertarelli of Switzerland.
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Meanwhile the remaining Challengers have left Auckland after the conclusion Regatta and Media Trials. The boats will be shipped mostly to Cascais, Portugal ahead of the first round of the America's Cup World Series. Emirates Team New Zealand will remain in Auckland to continue training in their AC45. Defender Oracle Racing will ship an AC45 to San Francisco for sailing in June.
Other AC45's will be shipped direct to Portugal where teams will take delivery. Ten teams are said, by organisers, to compete in Cascais.
The fate of the Mascalzone Latino's AC45 remains unknown. While the Italian team were a valid challenger, Oracle Racing had chartered their boat and were sailing two AC45's. The Protocol for the event says that all teams must be supplied with one AC45 before a team can acquire a second AC45. It may be that Mascalzone Latino sail their AC45 in the ACWS as a non-Cup entry.
The America's Cup will be sailed in September 2013, in San Francisco and will be preceded by the Louis Vuitton Cup.