Iain Murray, the Regatta Director for the 34th America's Cup, has issued the dates and format for the Louis Vuitton Cup, the America's Cup Challenger Series.
Taking place in 2013, in San Francisco, the objective of the challenger series is to both build and identify the strongest possible challenger to meet the defender in the America's Cup Finals.
The next Louis Vuitton Cup will consist of five stages, all of the challengers will participate in at least the first three, before eliminations begin. The first day of racing for the Louis Vuitton Cup will be July 4th, 2013 (changed from July 13th). The last possible day of racing will be September 1.
On current planning, the Louis Vuitton Cup will be held in San Francisco, which is also the venue for the 34th America's Cup.
With the changes in the latest Protocol, or conditions for the America's Cup and its forerunning series, the America's Cup World Series, numbers of entrants and the Louis Vuitton Cup format may change if a reduced number of teams on the ACWS circuit failed to progress, for financial reasons, to the Louis Vuitton Cup.
In the latest Protocol changes, while competitors were ostensibly entered for the 34th America's Cup, they now have the chance to compete only in the AC45 regattas, and may, or may not elect to step up to the bigger 72ft AC72 class, which will be sailed in the 34th America's Cup.
'There are nearly two full months of competition, and all of the challengers will be racing for at least the first five weeks,' said Iain Murray, the Regatta Director. 'As a group, the challengers wanted to introduce a format that would strike a good balance between allowing the potential of some of the new teams to develop over time, while still ensuring the top teams were constantly improving, so that the eventual winner will be prepared to take on the defender.' Louis Vuitton Cup format:
The first three stages of the competition will be used to select four semi finalists:
Series 1: A series of 4 fleet races. Each race will score 10 points for the winner, 6 points for second place, 2 points for third place. No points are awarded for subsequent places.
Series 2: A Round Robin Match Race Series. The winner of each race will score 10 points, the loser no points.
Series 3: A Round Robin Match Race Series. The winner of each race will score 12 points, the loser no points.
The top four teams at the conclusion of these first three series will proceed to the semi finals, with the top ranked challenger racing the fourth place team and the second ranked team racing the third placed.
In the semi finals, each match win is worth one point and the winner of each pairing will be the first team to win four points.
These two winners will then face each other in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final, where the first team to win five points (one point per win) will become the Challenger and will proceed to the America's Cup Finals to meet the Defender of the America's Cup, Golden Gate Yacht Club. The San Francisco based yacht club win the America's Cup from the Swiss based Club Nautique de Geneve, after almost three years of litigation starting in July 2007, culmination in a Deed of Gift match - or best of three series, sailed off Valencia in February 2010 in 120ft multihulls.
The Louis Vuitton Cup is contested when there is a multi-challenger selection series staged to determine the Challenger for the America's Cup. The current Louis Vuitton Cup holder is Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron/Emirates Team New Zealand who were the team who prevailed to become the Challenger in the 32nd America's Cup in 2007. In that Match the Swiss club SNG represented by its team, Alinghi, beat the New Zealanders for the second successive time, having won it from them in 2003 in Auckland, New Zealand.
There was no Louis Vuitton Cup sailed ahead of the 33rd America's Cup, as it was a one on one match, with other Challengers and was sailed under the provision of the 19th century Deed of Gift which governs the America's Cup. Specifically the Match was sailed under the conditions specified in the Deed if the Defender and Challenger cannot agree on the terms of the Match - which were set and reinforced by numerous rulings from the New York Supreme Court.
Over time, the Louis Vuitton Cup has proved to be a remarkable training ground for the challengers. Since its inception in 1983, the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup has gone on to win the America's Cup four out of seven times. Previous to 1983, no challenger had won the America's Cup. The 2013 event will mark the 30 year anniversary of the first Louis Vuitton Cup.
Emirates Team New Zealand NZL92 on the first beat of the first of the Louis Vuitton Cup finals against Luna Rossa Challenge ITA94. - Emirates Team New Zealand / Photo Chris Cameron ETNZ © Click Here to view large photo
Emirates Team NZ round the leeward gate ahead of the now Challenger of Record, Desafio Espanol in the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup - MCC McCamp Click Here to view large photo
Emirates Team New Zealand crew celebrate with Yves Carcelle, the President and CEO of Louis Vuitton and Bruno Trouble aboard NZL92 after their 5 - 0 win of the Louis Vuitton Cup finals. - Emirates Team New Zealand / Photo Chris Cameron ETNZ © Click Here to view large photo