It was not expected that anything earth shattering was likely to be rolled out with latest update to The Protocol of the 37th America’s Cup by the Cup Defender and the Challenger of Record.
It really was a dot the i’s and cross the t’s job that confirmed the main details of the upgrades to the AC75 rule and new multi-use AC40 class with an eye on cost reduction, in an effort to convince more teams to take part in the AC37.
With that in mind the main highlighted points were:
- Teams are only permitted to build one new AC75
- Limitations on the quantity of foils and componentry that can be built for the AC75’s
- Introduction of the multipurpose One Design AC40 class which teams will be able to convert and use for testing, component development and Match Race training.
- AC40 class will then be converted back to the measured One Design AC40 class for use in the exciting new America’s Cup Women’s Regatta and America’s Cup Youth events . . . the AC40 are going to be well used.
- Race crew onboard the AC75 reduced from 11 to 8 sailors
- Further One design elements
- Shared team recon
- Supplied starting software
- The AC75 class of boat will be maintained for the next two events.
The venue decision is still off limits – take your pick from Ireland, Spain, New Zealand or A. N. Other – and not due to be announced until March 2021,
And there were some limitations to just when you could sail your new AC75 – 17 September for existing teams – while new Challengers that purchased a second hand AC75 are permitted to sail that boat for 20 days from 17 June 2022.
Although this is likely to change once the Match venue is announced.
There is also the much-vaunted Crew Nationality Rule, but we have already seen teams working around this and for new teams it seems pretty flexible.
The new AC75 is going to be one ton lighter and with less crew – 8 instead of 11 – in order to improve the light weather performance and again, cut costs.
The new AC40 is going to be a major item in the Cup, being used for testing, component development and Match Race training, and then converted back to a one-design format for two Preliminary Regatta events in the year leading upto the AC37 match.
There will then be a third Preliminary Regatta in the AC75 at the match venue, followed by a Challenger Selection Series and the America’s Cup Match in 2024. Approximate event dates to be announced by 31 March 2022.
With a view to opening the doors and the continued drive to increase the global audience of the America’s Cup and the sport of sailing, a condition of entry to competitors is they agree to be part of a potential behind-the-scenes documentary series.
The intention of this is to bring the secrecy, the drama, and all the teams’ personalities into the limelight.
This of course is all very Formula 1, and with the INEOS Britannia team now moved in with the Mercedes F1 race team in Brackley, northwest of London, with over 800 employees on call, they will have plenty of engineers and software available.
And with all this multi-configuration of the AC40 and just one AC75 to be built, there will be a lot of reliance on software and simulator time.
This is all part of Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s INEOS sport group which also includes the Tour de France-winning cycling team (ex Team Sky) the Swiss football club Lausanne-Sport, French Ligue One side OGC Nice and Racing Club Abidjan of Ivory Coast Ligue One. In total the company has spent around £400m on its sporting enterprises.
This protocol seems set to warn any other challengers that this will be very expensive Cup, and you wonder how even the Kiwis will be able to afford it.
In an effort to show some climate change credentials in the America’s Cup, it is now a mandated obligation of all teams to build and operate two hydrogen powered foiling chase boats for their campaign. These boats must be a minimum of 10 metres long and the usage and performance criteria is set out in the Protocol.
The Protocol sets the foundations and rules of participation for all teams in the 37th America’s Cup and records the items of mutual consent under the America’s Cup Deed of Gift agreed between the Defender and the Challenger of Record which establishes the basis for a multi challenger event.