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Dec 27: The Riddle of the sixth Challenger


Sail-World NZ e-magazine - Dec 27: The riddle of the Sixth Challenger

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AM38 - American Magic - First day of sailing in Pensacola, Florida. - photo © Amory Ross

Dear Recipient Name

Welcome to's New Zealand e-magazine for December 27, 2018

Last Friday's mid-afternoon announcement, of the Sixth and maybe final Challenger for the 36th America's Cup was a departure from the practice to date.

With the other five, the standard has been to announce that a Challenge has been accepted and leave it to the Challenger to "out" themselves, at a time of their choosing.

The naming of the Clubs involved meant the latest Challenge could be linked back to a previously circulated memorandum from twice winner of the America's Cup, Simeon Tienpont (NED) addressed to the membership of the same two clubs, and seeking support for a tilt at the 36th America's Cup.

The Dutch entry is the first America's Cup foray for one of the world's top sailing nations - and indeed one with a long seafaring history. After all, was a Dutch explorer, Abel Tasman, who was the first European to visit New Zealand back in 1642.

The Netherlands finished second on the nations leaderboard at the 2016 Olympics in Rio with two Golds in the Mens Windsurfer and Womens Singlehander. They topped that in the 2018 Hempel World Sailing Championships in August, by coming away with three Gold medals, two Silver and a Bronze from the ten Olympic events.

Great Britain SailGP leaves Marsden Cove, December 27, 2018 - photo © Ian Roman
Great Britain SailGP leaves Marsden Cove, December 27, 2018 - photo © Ian Roman

There were two Dutch skippered boats in the Volvo Ocean Race and around 14 Dutch nationals have competed in the Volvo Ocean Race since 2000. Carolijn Brouwer has three Volvo Ocean Races (including a race win in 2017/18), and three Olympic regattas in three classes (including multihulls) to her credit. Top boardsailor, and double Olympic champion Dorian van Rijsselberghe is another who has his hand up for America's Cup selection.

The Dutch challenge now brings the 36th Americas Cup presented by Prada lineup to seven teams, the most since the 32nd Americas Cup in 2007 in Valencia.

If the six challengers do make it through to the 2021 America's Cup Regatta, that will indeed be an achievement for a number of reasons.

Firstly it is greater than the entries for Bermuda. Secondly, they are all independently funded, unlike the Challenger fleet in Bermuda where most seemed to owe some degree of favour to the Defender. Every action and result was considered in that light - including the infamous Framework Agreement, which bound five of the Challengers and Defender into a cabal.

AM38 - American Magic - First day of sailing in Pensacola, Florida. - photo © Amory Ross
AM38 - American Magic - First day of sailing in Pensacola, Florida. - photo © Amory Ross

In the media statement, Emirates Team NZ said they would be reaching out to both the series sponsor Prada and the Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa, to discuss further planning for the events in light of this exciting news.

It would seem that this is code for scheduling some new America's Cup World Series events in 2020. But that's not as simple as it seems.

Each ACWS event has an entry price tag of USD300,000 for each Challenger per event, as well as the costs of accommodation and freight. There's a time-cost too on the development side as the two-boat teams can train in Auckland after February 15, 2020. Yet the one boat teams are locked into ACWS competition, wherever it may be.

Only with the ACWS over can they high-tail it down to New Zealand and start getting their Auckland sailing time in when they arrive - probably about September/October 2020.

Meanwhile, the two boat teams - while they are allowed only to sail one boat at a time, can have one AC75 located in Auckland and the other at an ACWS venue - maximising their development and racing time. And to use a very hackneyed America's Cup phrase - "the rich get richer".

Black Jack - Start 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - photo © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi
Black Jack - Start 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - photo © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

Then there was the line in the media statement that : "We are hoping and expect them [CVS/Luna Rossa] to embrace this latest entry in line with the underlying philosophy of the Americas Cup being a friendly competition between foreign countries."

The inference is that the Italians will need to sign-off on some Protocol changes before the Dutch Challenge can be accepted.

However, the opening paragraph in the media statement says the Challenge has been accepted - without mention of any qualification. Go figure.

For some time, it has been clear that some fundamental changes to the Protocol will be required.

It is too skewed towards the two boat teams.

There will have to be changes made in the rule requiring all teams to compete in the first America's Cup World Series event in Cagliari in October 2019. Unless the team has a boat underway now, they will not make this deadline. Two of the late entries would appear to be in this category.

Supermaxis - Start 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - photo © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi
Supermaxis - Start 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - photo © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

Then there are the issues we have covered before - the 380-day residency requirement, for non-resident crews; and allowing the payment of Entry Fees and Late Fees onto the same time payment system that is there for the earlier entered Super teams .

The parting shot in the media statement Emirates Team New Zealand/RNZYS say they have "advised the Auckland Council and Government that if there ultimately are not six challengers, there is an option not to build the Hobson Wharf extension as five teams can be accommodated on Wynyard Point saving taxpayer money."

If this five challenger scenario were to play out, then Luna Rossa would have the first choice of the bases on Wynyard Point - of which there are three double bases and three single.

There is an inference through the statement that CVS/Luna Rossa are trying to restrict the number of Challengers - maybe that's the Italian reaction to the tsunami of eight late Notices of Challenge which erupted on the final day for such entries.

And maybe there is a degree of self-preservation kicking in.

InfoTrack - Start 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - photo © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi
InfoTrack - Start 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - photo © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

With six Challengers in the Prada Cup, two go home after the Qualification phase and are eliminated before the Semi-Final.

That is a fairly serious situation for all teams, but particularly the three "Super Teams".

It is even more so for the Prada sponsored Luna Rossa, who are also the Event Sponsor.

For Prada, the event sponsor, more teams mean more TV coverage, and because this Cup is organised along strong national lines, there should be a more enthusiastic following and fervour.

Obviously, the best scenario for Prada is to have their team, Luna Rossa, go against the Defender in the Match (and win).

The addition of every new Challenger dilutes the chances of this happening.

Wild Oats XI - Start 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - photo © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi
Wild Oats XI - Start 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - photo © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

As we saw in 2017 and 2007, the chance of upset wins at crucial points of the Prada Cup is always possible.

The much-maligned Groupama Team France finished Round Robin 1 in the 2017 Louis Vuitton Trophy with two wins, the same as LVT Finalist Artemis Racing, who the French beat on the first day of the regatta. Softbank Team Japan also finished the round with just two wins.

Who can forget when Team China handed BMW Oracle Racing a 3min 15 sec thumping on the opening day of Round Robin 2 in the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup?

Of course, Emirates Team New Zealand are immune from early elimination - they have automatic entry into the Main Event.

Whitianga Waterways  by Hopper Developments - photo © Hopper Developments
Whitianga Waterways by Hopper Developments - photo © Hopper Developments

Looking for a lifestyle change?

If you are around Whitianga, Marsden Cove (where the SailGP F50's used to hang out) or Pauanui take the opportunity to visit the latest property developments - and see how you can acquire a home and a marina, which are handy to your favorite cruising grounds.

There's new property available at all three locations, and Hoppers have reputation second to none for providing a unique lifestyle opportunity to all who want to enjoy the best living/work/retirement/holiday balance - with all locations just two hours drive or less to Auckland and the main centres in the upper North island.

You are within sight of the Mercury Islands, Great Barrier Island or at Marsden Cove you're halfway to the Barrier and Bay of Islands.

Does it get any better than this?

The cruising waters of Mercury Island are adjacent to Whitianga Waterways and Pauanui - photo © Hopper Developments
The cruising waters of Mercury Island are adjacent to Whitianga Waterways and Pauanui - photo © Hopper Developments

Finn exclusion from the 2024 Olympics confirmed

The World Sailing Annual Conference ended almost two months ago. The moves to have the controversial vote on the 2024 Olympic Events, and Mixed One Person Dinghy re-opened were confirmed at a special Council Meeting. So too was the decision to substitute the Mixed Two Person offshore Keelboat event.

That effectively means the Big Boys are out of the 2024 Olympics. Of course, the panjandrums of World Sailing will claim that the males above 85kg can switch to the yet to be chosen Offshore Keelboat or the Kite. But that view does not seem to be shared by the sailors affected.

Finn sailor Nic Heiner (29) and the currently #1 ranked Finn sailor in the World is reported in Italian sailing website FareVela and auto-translated below from Italian.

More and more classes are mixed gender, because the World Sailing Association strives for more equality between men and women in sailing. In theory, the Finn does not fit, because it is a sailing class for men. Heiner: "By making this choice the 'heavy man' of 85 kilos or more falls outside the boat. There is no alternative for us."

Heiner is now focusing on Tokyo 2020, where Finn will last appear at the start of an Olympic Games. "I train for Japan, that is far enough, then I look further."

The International Finn Association (IFA) says that they are very disappointed. Especially for the young Finn sailors who have ambitions for the Olympic Games in 2024, it is very unfortunate. In a statement on their website, the IFA indicates that they are doing everything to get the Finn class back on the program.

Nicholas Heiner on day 3 of Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus 2018 - photo © Robert Deaves
Nicholas Heiner on day 3 of Hempel Sailing World Championships Aarhus 2018 - photo © Robert Deaves

According to Heiner there is confusion among Olympic sailors. They wonder whether offshore sailing should be an Olympic discipline; "Because if you want to sail offshore at the highest level, then there is already the Volvo Ocean Race or the Golden Globe Race."

Olympic sailing has always been accessible and low-threshold, will that still be the case with this new class? The sailors fear that the Olympic campaigns will become more expensive. Heiner: "Transporting and storing a keel boat is already a big job."

Great Britain SailGP leaves Marsden Cove, December 27, 2018 - photo © Ian Roman
Great Britain SailGP leaves Marsden Cove, December 27, 2018 - photo © Ian Roman
Rolex Sydney Hobart

Rolex Sydney Hobart is well underway. Main interest is in the five, now four supermaxis with the race expected to finish mid-afternoon on Monday (NZT).

We have extensive coverage in this issue, and will bring you updates. The interview we conducted with four times America's Cup winner, Mattie Mason (NZL) and top Volvo Ocean race navigator, Juan Vila (ESP) over breakfast before the race start is proving to be accurate. Both are sailing aboard the race favorite Wild Oats XI. Will she score her ninth line honours victory in the offshore classic?

While the record is very safe, the four supermaxis contesting the lead are separated by just 4nm and spread across a broad section of Bass Strait.

Already the race is being called as one of the closest finishes of all time.

2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart start - photo © Carlo Borlenghi
2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart start - photo © Carlo Borlenghi

Christmas and New Year coverage

For all the latest news from NZ and around the world see below.

Please send your event reports to with a copy to

This is our last newsletter for 2018, thanks for your support, have a great and safe holiday period - ashore and afloat.

Have a great and prosperous New Year!

Between newsletters, you can follow all the racing and developments in major and local events on by scrolling to the top of the site, select New Zealand, and get all the latest news and updates from the sailing world.

Good sailing!

Richard Gladwell
NZ Editor

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Start 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - photo © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi
Start 2018 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - photo © Rolex / Studio Borlenghi

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Fireworks at the finish - 2017 Rolex Sydney Hobart Yacht Race - photo © Carlo Borlenghi / Rolex
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