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New York YC cops a media spray from America's Cup champions

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz 20 Oct 04:29 PDT 21 October 2021
American Magic's Patriot - Waitemata Harbour - January 15 - Prada Cup Day 1 - 36th America's Cup © Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com

The New York Yacht Club's decision to "pause its pursuit of the America's Cup" appears to have been taken autonomously, without reference to Stars+Stripes USA and was leaked to online media several hours before the team was made aware of the decision.

In late July, NYYC announced that they would be working with Stars+Stripes USA, a young, diverse, All-American team led by match racing champions Taylor Canfield and Mike Buckley. The team had been one of three late entry teams accepted for the 36th America's Cup in Auckland.

Following NYYC's July 24 announcement, many were surprised that the club had decided to part ways with American Magic their team for the 36th America's Cup regattas. It was the only one to beat Emirates Team New Zealand in the pre-Xmas America's Cup World Series regatta.

Unlike Stars+Stripes USA, American Magic was advised of NYYC's decision about a week before the July 24 media announcement and are understood to have subsequently made arrangements to compete under the burgee of another US club.

In a statement issued mid-morning, Emirates Team New Zealand differentiated their approach and relationship with their 150-year-old club, from that of New York YC with its America's Cup teams.

"The outcome of the NYYC approach is in complete contrast to that of RNZYS and Emirates Team New Zealand," ETNZ said in a media statement.

They added that the club and team had enjoyed "an enduring relationship for 27 years, winning the America's Cup four times where the yacht club plays a valuable supporting role to the team that carries the financial and competitive responsibilities."

"The reality of the modern-day America's Cup competition is that every yacht club needs its representative team to be responsible for the operation and decisions of its Challenge or Defence whilst protecting the club and its members from any financial liability," the statement continued.

"Both American Magic (the team) and Stars + Stripes remain involved and are anticipating the AC37 Protocol next month," the Team NZ statement concluded - a position confirmed verbally by Sail-World with both teams.

"We are disappointed that NYYC reversed its decision to participate in the next cycle of the America's Cup," Stars+Stripes USA said in a written statement issued 12hrs before NYYC emailed theirs.

"However, nothing has changed for Stars+Stripes USA; we remain even more committed to competing in AC37 in order to change the sport of sailing in the US."

"We will continue building a diverse team that reflects our country and represents modern American values.

"We will expand our ecosystem of partners and move forward with expanding the AI [artificial intelligence] technology that we initiated from AC36 that will be required to win in 2024," Stars+Stripes USA concluded.

The withdrawal of the New York Yacht Club is curious given their stated intention to "continue to advocate for what we believe to be essential changes to the structure of the America's Cup." One would have thought that pursuit of that laudable objective would have been easier from the inner circle of the 37th America's Cup than without.

As of late last week, Sail-World understands that American Magic, was working with other yacht clubs, has backing and sponsorship secured, and awaits the release of the Protocol for the 37th America's Cup - in just over three weeks. A venue announcement could happen at any time, as it is likely that the first bid which is realistic financially for America's Cup Event Ltd as regatta organisers and rates acceptably against the published 15-point selection criteria.

A vital issue for the team and all other Challengers is the 37th America's Cup venue. Most of the teams favour Auckland, where American Magic retains a base, along with British team INEOS Britannia. Both teams have their two AC75's and other gear retained on site.

However, a home defence doesn't work for the defender for financial and other reasons.

The "pause" will be the just the second America's Cup cycle, in which New York Yacht Club has declined to participate, since the 1983 loss to Alan Bond's Australia II.

For 132 years, the New York Yacht Club was invincible in America's Cup competition, and theirs was the longest winning streak in international sports history. But since losing the most prestigious trophy in sailing, New York has enjoyed varying fortunes.

However since losing the America's Cup and hosting rights in 1983, the club has only competed in four of the 11 America's Cups staged. Additionally the club did not participate in the four regatta Louis Vuitton Trophy series sailed in New Zealand and European venues. New York YC was a "no-show" partially by deliberate decision or by exclusion because another US club held the Defence rights for the trophy for which New York Yacht Club was regarded as its residential address.

The Challenge with American Magic was seen as a way back for the Club, the team was well led and managed against the very fraught backdrop of a COVID pandemic, which swept USA and Europe during 2020. American Magic developed a lot of IP and infrastructure, which it still retains - and with those assets and record most felt that there was unfinished business, but a sound base from which to launch a challenge for the 37th America's Cup.

Having made one questionable decision with American Magic, the decision to split, four months later with Stars+Stripes USA, is baffling.

The manner in which the "pause" decision and its ramifications were made, and communicated, does not reflect well on the prestigious Club.

New York Yacht Club's involvement in the America's Cup regattas since 1983

NB: In several of the Cup cycles where the Cup was held by other US yacht clubs, only boats from those clubs were permitted to enter the Defence Trials if indeed they were held.

  • 1987 - Fremantle: NYYC was eliminated without reaching the Semi-Finals, two West Coast USA clubs did make the cut, with NYYC's 1983 helmsman, Dennis Conner, going on to win the Cup for San Diego YC.

  • 1988 - San Diego: New York YC was excluded from an exclusive Deed of Gift match between San Diego YC and Mercury Bay YC

  • 1992 - San Diego: All four teams represented San Diego YC in the Citizen Cup Defence selection trials.

  • 1995 - San Diego: All four teams represented San Diego YC in the Citizen Cup Defence selection trials.

  • 2000 - Auckland: Young America (NYYC) broke USA-53 during the Louis Vuitton Cup

  • 2003 - Auckland: Stars + Stripes (NYYC) - USA 77 sank in San Diego before travelling to Auckland and did not progress to the Semi-Finals.

  • 2007 - Valencia: New York Yacht Club did not compete

  • 2009-10 Louis Vuitton Trophy series - four regattas with 11 America's Cup teams involved - New York Yacht Club did not compete.

  • 2010 - Valencia: New York YC was excluded from an exclusive Deed of Gift match between Golden Gate YC and Societe Nautique de Geneve

  • 2013 - San Francisco: Golden Gate YC did not conduct defence trials. NYYC and all other US clubs were excluded.

  • 2017 - Bermuda: Golden Gate YC did not conduct defence trials. . NYYC and all other US clubs were excluded.

  • 2021 - Auckland: American Magic (NYYC) capsized in Round Robins and was eliminated at Semi-Finals

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