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America's Cup World Series details published - confirmation to follow

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 30 Nov 2019 13:07 PST 1 December 2019
It is expected that the teams will race first generation AC75's in Auckland in the third America's Cup World Series event © Emirates Team New Zealand

America's Cup organisers have followed the line of the previous trophy holder by meeting an arbitrary Protocol publication deadline without publicly revealing any specifics.

The Protocol, or regatta rules, for the 36th America's Cup required the dates and venues for three America's Cup World Series events to be "announced on or before 30 November 2019."

That condition was apparently satisfied by the issuance, early Saturday afternoon NZT, of a pithy two-sentence statement by America's Cup organisers.

"2020 is shaping up to be an exciting America's Cup year as anticipation builds leading up to the first competitive action for the teams and their amazing new AC75 foiling monohulls during three America's Cup World Series events – the first of which will take place in Cagliari, Sardinia as previously announced.

"The venues and dates for the remaining two ACWS regattas have been finalised by the Defender and the Challenger of Record and full details will be publicly released over the coming weeks in coordination with the associated Host Cities and commercial partners."

Over four years ago, in February 2015, the same situation arose after the venues for the America's Cup World Series were required by the then Protocol to have been announced by February 15, 2015 and were "published" but not announced.

Then, a query by Sail-World as to how the requirement of the then Protocol for the 2017 America's Cup could have been satisfied without a formal media statement, elicited this response from an America's Cup Events Authority spokesman: "My understanding is the Protocol deadline was met - the required information has been published to the teams. The public announcement of that information will take place in March," he said the day after the February 15 2015 deadline.

Negotiations for the 2020 ACWS events went right down to the morning of the November 30 deadline. It is understood that all Teams have been advised of the dates and detail of the 2020 ACWS events, later confirmatory announcements will be made by the respective local authorities in the UK and New Zealand, expected to be complete by mid-December.

It is expected that Portsmouth (UK) and Auckland will be confirmed as the remaining two venues for the America's Cup World Series, where all entered teams will race their AC75 America's Cup class yachts. The first ACWS event was announced for Cagliari, Sardinia from April 23-27, 2020.

Challenger of Record Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli has their base in Cagliari, and the area is renowned for good sailing breeze at that time of the year.

The Portsmouth event is expected to be held at the end of June 2020, and following that regatta, the AC75's will be shipped to Auckland - a 50-day voyage from Europe. Somewhat less by air freight.

New Zealand fans can expect to see the first Challengers sailing in August 2020, with base construction starting early in January or February 2020.

Consistent with a now more focussed approach by the British team, it is understood that INEOS Team UK, the Challenger of the Royal Yacht Squadron, is ambivalent about being the host team for the Portsmouth event - due to the logistical overhead involved, and a reluctance to divert team funds and assistance to a regatta staged mostly for the benefit of their competitors.

The Protocol requires the America's Cup World Series races to be organised and conducted by Circolo dela Vela Sicilia, the Challenger of Record for the 36th America's Cup. In practical terms, the regatta organisation falls to the Challenger of Record organisation, headed by long-time America's Cup sailor Laurent Esquier (FRA), the coach of New Zealand Challenge in the 1987 America's Cup in Fremantle. Esquier sailed his first America’s Cup at the age of 20 yrs and is a veteran of 11 America’s Cup campaigns.

Each America's Cup World Series regatta consists of four days racing preceded by several days of practice. Esquier told Sail-World in mid-October 2018 that “the America’s Cup World Series will be fleet racing, as it is quicker to run a fleet racing series than match racing."

The competing teams will have to contribute USD300,000 (NZD$467,000) each towards the regatta costs of each of the three America's Cup World Series Regattas.

A naming rights sponsor for the UK series will be announced at a later date.

No announcement has been made as to whether the fourth Challenger, Stars and Stripes Team USA, as the only single boat team, will be excused from competing in the European venues of the America's Cup World Series. The other teams will have the option of sailing their second AC75, either from their home base, or from Auckland while their first boat is in transit from Europe to Auckland.

Currently, the Protocol states that "each Competitor shall be required to enter and participate in all events of the ACWS. Any Challenger that does not meet this requirement will no longer be eligible to participate in either the Christmas Race [to be held in Auckland in December 2020] or the Challenger Selection Series." Stars + Stripes Team USA have previously told Sail-World that "we will be in Auckland".

It is expected that any exemption for the West Coast USA team from ACWS participation, will be dependent on an undertaking that they have the necessary funding in place to complete the build of their AC75 to a base design from Emirates Team New Zealand, and that they will compete in the Prada Cup in Auckland.

Unlike the ACWS events leading to the 2017 America's Cup, there is no carry over of points from the ACWS regattas into the America's Cup Challenger Selection Series, or Prada Cup.

In a significant departure from the previous America's Cup, coverage of all America's Cup World Series events will via free to air television outlets, and streamed to a variety of devices used by fans around the world, free of charge.

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