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America's Cup: New York Yacht Club goes from 'Pause' to 'Play' in AC37

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 8 Jan 05:05 PST 8 January 2022
American Magic's afterguard - Round Robin 1- Day 2 Prada Cup - Course C - 36th America's Cup © Richard Gladwell / Sail-World.com / nz

As reported by Sail-World, yesterday, the New York Yacht Club has announced they will be re-partnering with their former America's Cup team, American Magic for the 37th America's Cup.

Today's announcement is the fourth move in eight months by the Club as it yo-yo's in and out of the 37th America's Cup.

The media releases by both the Club, and American Magic, leave several key questions unanswered, however broadly it seems that the latest move will be what most pundits expected following the conclusion of the 36th America's Cup in March. Specifically that the Club's team in AC36 would continue for AC37, with a few key changes.

To recap the key events:

  • December 2020 - American Magic emerges as the top challenger from the America's Cup World Series, and is the only team to beat the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand.
  • January 20, 2021 - American Magic capsizes on Day 3 of the Prada Cup Round Robin. Patriot is badly holed, almost sinks and skips the rest of the Round Robin phase to effect repairs.
  • January 29, 2021 - American Magic first team to be eliminated after the Semi-Final of the Prada Cup
  • May 6, 2021 - New York Yacht Club issues a Notice of Challenge for AC37, ahead of the opening of entries. The Challenge is accompanied by a draft Protocol ahead of the proper Protocol on September 17, 2021. Their Protocol and Challenge is rejected by Royal NZ Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team NZ.
  • July 23, 2021 - New York YC advised that they had chosen to run with Stars+Stripes, a late challenger for the 36th America's Cup. The implication of that announcement was that they had decided not re-challenge with American Magic. American Magic was advised of the change-out about a week before the formal statement.
  • October 18, 2021 - New York Yacht Club issue media statement saying they are "pausing" their America's Cup activities. Stars+Stripes say they were not advised of the move - finding out only after media enquiries.
  • November 16, 2021 - New York Yacht Club names Stars+Stripes' Taylor Canfield and Mike Buckley as winners of the Mosbacher Trophy, presented to the NYYC's Sailor of the Year.
  • January 8, 2022 - New York yacht Club announces they have re-partnered with American Magic for the 37th America's Cup, say they intend to enter, but had not formally challenged.
There was no mention of key team members in the separate New York Yacht Club or American Magic media announcements. While enthusiastic comments were attributed to Team Principals Doug DeVos, and Hap Fauth, the third in AC36, Roger Roger Penske was a notable absence.

Sail-World understands that Olympic Gold medalist, Paul Goodison will be announced as skipper/helmsman. Although a British passport holder and National, Goodison qualifies to sail for the team by virtue of the fact that he was part of the American Magic team for the 36th America's Cup, and is therefore eligible to sail for the same team in AC37.

AC36 helmsman, Dean Barker (NZL) who has been on the helm for six America's Cup campaigns, in teams representing New Zealand, Japan and USA, and is one of the few that fit through the same nationality keyhole as Goodison - and would require some serious thinking by a team before he was let go. All teams will need at least two top-class helmsmen, covering illness, loss of form, and to explore the Luna Rossa option of port and starboard helms.

It is expected that Terry Hutchinson will remain as Executive Director.

Roger Penske out

The hiatus has come at a cost to American Magic. Their lead designer, Marcelino Botin is understood to have been head-hunted by Swiss challenger Alinghi. He has been replaced by Scott Ferguson, a two -times America's Cup with Oracle Racing. The full extent of the Alinghi recruiting may not be known until February/March when the team will make a major announcement.

Today leading America's Cup correspondent for Associated Press, Bernie Wilson reports that one of the three principals of American Magic, auto racing team boss, Roger Roger Penske has called it quits.

'While principals Doug DeVos — co-chairman of Amway — and Hap Fauth will continue to back American Magic, Penske said in an email to The Associated Press that he would not be part of the syndicate, adding, “I had enough,” followed by a smiley face emoji.' Wilson wrote. To read more click here

Pause becomes Play

In today's statements, there was only a passing reference to the above litany of events, with the Club claiming that its "Pause" was "due to a lack of clarity regarding the rules, timing and venue for the next Match". It is well-known that American Magic holds strong reservations about competing in Jeddah, if it is named as venue. For this reason it is unlikely that a challenge by New York Yacht Club will be lodged until after the Venue for the 37th America's Cup is named - on or before March 31, 2022.

In its statement the club made it clear that it will "eagerly await the announcement within the next few months of the venue and schedule for the 37th America's Cup".

While NYYC's draft Protocol and Challenge were rejected by Royal NZ Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team NZ, back in May 2021, several of the keypoints of their draft Protocol were incorporated in the AC37 Protocol announced four months later, in mid-September. However offsetting that comment, there were also ongoing discussions between the Defender and competitors in the 2021 America's Cup.

While Stars+Stripes appear to have been left high and dry by the New York Yacht Club, the team says they received several offers from other US clubs immediately after NYYC's "pause" announcement, and are believed to be well advanced with preparations for a Challenge, that will be in a different style from the "super teams" who have announced to date.

American Magic, too, had been in discussions with other US clubs when it appeared that NYYC was not interested. From the statements today, it is not clear what prompted the kiss and make-up between Club and Team. However it is maybe not entirely co-incidental that in January 2022, a new Commodore Paul M Zabetakis was installed.

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