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America's Cup: Flurry of Challenger action 48 hours before deadline

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 28 Nov 02:12 PST 28 November 2018

With 48 hours left until Challenges close for the 36th America's Cup, several new and apparently serious Challengers have emerged.

There are six teams that have been mentioned in various leaks, and so-called inside stories, mostly emanating from Italy, since the initial Challenge closed at the end of June 2018.

The six are two from USA, two from Italy, and one each from Norway and China.

Yesterday a new Challenge was reported in the Netherlands sailing media coming from the two Royal yacht clubs based in Muiden and Rotterdam.

New Zealand sources confirmed there had been discussions with the Dutch, which has also occurred with numerous parties, since the Challenge period opened on January 1, 2018.

What gives the latest Challenger more credibility is that the story on Dutch sailing website zeilen.nl, was sourced from an advisory note circulated as a heads-up" to the membership of both clubs. In the past, this has been a reliable harbinger prior to a Challenge being lodged, and to avoid the club members first hearing of the Challenge via the sailing media.

The note quotes Round the World race skipper and twice winner of the America's Cup (with Oracle Racing/Team USA) Simeon Tienpont and talks specifically of a challenge for 2021. Tienpont also sailed with Softbank Team Japan at the 35th America's Cup in Bermuda.

Simeon Tienpont - AC72  - Oracle Team USA,.  San Francisco - photo © Guilain Grenier Oracle Team USA <a target=www.oracleteamusamedia.com/" />
Simeon Tienpont - AC72 - Oracle Team USA,. San Francisco - photo © Guilain Grenier Oracle Team USA www.oracleteamusamedia.com/

"The Dutch maritime sector is recognized as a world leader; it is now a matter of using that leadership to achieve success in participating in the 36th America's Cup. Add to this that our competition sailors are among the best in the world, " says Tienpont in an auto-translated quotation in the note.

"Now is the chance for the Netherlands to get a Dutch challenger on the water for the first time in history," Tienpont stated in the auto-translation from Dutch . "The design of the AC75 and the technical specifications are perfectly suited to the Dutch maritime and aviation industry. The America's Cup has always worked as a breeding ground for technology in competitive sailing, and more than ever before, these innovations are now also attracting the maritime industry. "

While overlooked by many, the Netherlands are a silent force in the sailing world.

At an Olympic level, the Dutch team finished top of the medal table at the combined Class World Championships, in August 2018 and were second in the sailing medal standing in 2016 at Rio de Janeiro. There were two Dutch flagged entries in the last Volvo Ocean Race, and the America's Cup is the only major sailing event on which the Netherlands has not made its mark.

Entries close in 48 hours at 5.00pm on November 30, NZT.

As well as the initial entry fee of USD$1million, a second instalment of USD$1million is also payable on November 30, 2018 for all accepted Challengers. In addition, late Challengers must pay a Late Entry Fee of USD$1million by December 31, 2018.

Sail-World NZ has signed a Non-Disclosure Agreement with an as yet unannounced Challenger (not the Tienpont-led team) a formal announcement was expected in Monaco on November 29, 2018, local time, however the team has advised that they will not be present in Monaco, but had filed their Challenge with Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. They expect to make a statement announcing the Challenge in January 2019.

All Notices of Challenge, are subject to vetting by the Defender, RNZYS, to ensure that they are in compliance with the Deed of Gift, the 19th century document which governs the conduct of the America's Cup generally, and also with the Protocol which covers the specifics of the 36th Match. Part of that Protocol sets out five criteria additional to the requirements of the Deed of Gift designed to eliminate an entity that is not a bona fide yacht club.

The new Challenges are expected to be single AC75 construction teams, while the four "Super" teams currently entered will all launch the maximum two AC75's permitted under the Protocol.

The Single AC75 teams are also expected to launch a Surrogate test boat of less than 12 metres overall length, and will also, as with all teams rely heavily on the use of simulators to test design concepts and train crew.

Late interest in Challenges for the 2021 America's Cup is believed to have stemmed from a number of factors.

There is more confidence in the foiling monohull design concept after the performance of a Surrogate yacht by the US Challenger American Magic.

The America's Cup champions. Emirates Team New Zealand have made entry easier by making a basic design package available to all teams, reducing the design risk for new teams.

The 100% nationality rule does not seem to be having the deterrent that was initially expected. The later announced teams seem relaxed with running multi-national teams and complying with the residency requirements of the Protocol.

New Zealand sources made it clear that there would be no extension of the Late Entry period, except on the basis of a Challenger having special conditions that would need to be discussed between the Challenger of Record, Circolo della Vela Sicilia and the Defender, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

RNZYS is compelled to accept any Challenge, including Late, which complies with the Deed of Gift governing the America's Cup and the Protocol negotiated between the Defender and Challenging clubs.

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