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America's Cup to have smaller yachts, crews in three-year racing programme

Major changes have been made to the 35th America’s Cup series, with smaller yachts and crews, a three-year racing programme and the introduction of a nationality rule.

The new Protocol, negotiated between Oracle Team USA (Golden Gate Yacht Club) and challenger of record Team Australia (Hamilton Island Yacht Club), defines the rules, format and commercial regulations.

Entries open on June 9 and close on August 8, giving prospective teams two months to enter.The Class Rule for the new AC62 yacht, which has already been shared with teams in draft format, will be issued in the coming days, before the entry period opening.

Key features of the Protocol include:

  • A three year racing programme from 2015-17 with every race counting toward qualification and/or points in the final America’s Cup match.
  • At least six America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) events a year in 2015 and 2016 to be raced in the AC45 class. The ACWS will be used to seed teams for the America’s Cup qualifiers.
  • The America’s Cup qualifiers (ACQ) series in 2017 involving all teams, with a bonus point in the America’s Cup Match at stake. The ACQ events will not be held at the America’s Cup match venue.
  • America’s Cup challenger playoffs in 2017 for the top four challenger teams to emerge from the ACQ. Racing to be held at the America’s Cup match venue.
  • The America’s Cup match in 2017, featuring the defender, Oracle Team USA, against the top challenger. The first team to win seven points will win the America’s Cup.
  • Up to two Youth America’s Cup events providing a pathway for young sailors to join the top rank of professionals.
  • The new AC62 yacht – a foiling, wing sail catamaran sailed by eight crew – to be raced in all events in 2017.
  • A crew nationality rule requiring at least 25% of the AC62 crew to be nationals of the country of their challenge.
  • Defender will be able to build two AC62s; Challengers can build one AC62.
  • Wind limits for all events to be held between five and 25 knots.

Team Australia Mat Belcher skipper says, “We are convinced the 35th America’s Cup will surpass previous events in almost every way: more challengers, amazing new boats and a competition structure that will engage and enthrall people over a three year period.”

Oracle’s two-time winning skipper Jimmy Spithill says it will be be much more difficult to hold on to the Cup.

“It’s the America’s Cup, so it’s not supposed to be easy, but our goal is to make it a three-peat,” he says.

“It was so close last time. Battling back to win from being down 8-1 is something we will never forget and I expect it will be just as difficult this time.”

RAW DATA: America's Cup protocol (PDF)4.29 MB

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Comments and questions

"Defender will be able to build two AC62s; Challengers can build one AC62."

Sounds fair.

Have they announced locations? Sounds like there will be 8 venues all up. Hard to justify building a 'village' at each of them.

Can challengers definitely NOT build two boats? I read it more like they didn't have to build two, could just build one if they wanted (money constraints etc...)?

Just read in more detail.

The qualifiers will be in the AC45, a completely different class of boat! They dont even foil do they?

On a more positive, the defender must use their first boat built, unless it breaks so not quite as bad as it initially sounds. Two boat testing for appendages and other bolt-on's will be a huge advantage though.

Why don't they downscale the whole thing so as it completely disappears, I think most Kiwis are completely over this Americas Cup boat racing thing, mainly due to the incredible costs associated with it, and the incredible self created wealth certain people have come out of it with!! the monopoly type money and hype is astonishing!!
No body was interested in the last one, except for when it appeared that they were going to win it, then it all turned to custard and we all went back to normal.

It is past time for the NZ taxpayer to stop funding this rich man's sport.
Grant Dalton confirmed this morning that other challengers mainly had rich sponsors;the NZ taxpayer is not rich and we can do without this dream of sporting .
Money could be better spent elsewhere to really get our economy moving in a sustainable way.

Why don't they go hybrid -- outboard turbocharged V12x2 and sails?

What about bumper yachts; make it legal to ram your opponent. Now that would be exciting!
Imagine the challenge of building a yacht light and fast; but must be able to withstand ramming. There's a real engineering challenge.

Larry used his cash to acquire this and clearly won't let it go easily....these "rules" are a joke.

Really gets on my wick when Mr Spithill keeps banging on about how improved teamwork and not technology changes were the reason for the turnaround on the last event.....