Thursday, 5 July 2007

33rd America's Cup - Protocol Released

"Bigger, faster and harder to sail" Brad Butterworth, Alinghi

The Protocol for the 33rd America's Cup was released earlier today (for a PDF copy, click here).

Top amongst the key points is the definition of a new class of ACC yacht which must be sailed in the final match between defender and challenger. New vessels must be 27.4 metres in length (as opposed to the 24m vessels raced in AC32). This will mean that none of the 102 AC vessels in existence will qualify, although the protocol does allow for existing vessels to be modified to fulfil requirements.

Larger vessels, without mechanised assistance, will require larger sail area, will be faster and more of a handful on the water - a greater challenge to the crews.

Full new ACC rules will be published on or before December 31st 2007, in which the full specifications will be detailed. After the date of publication, there will be a minimum of 18 months before AC 33 regattas will see the racing of the larger vessels; until this time, existing AC32 class vessels will be used.

We will have to wait until final publication to confirm speculation that teams may well be limited to the racing of one AC33 vessel, presumably to reduce the technical advantage between the richest and poorest teams.

The Challenger of Record (COR - the team who officially challenges the holder to a new match) is detailed as Club Nautico Espanol de Vela - the club of convenience, as representatives of which Desafio Espanol raced AC32.

The COR selection appears to strengthen the likelyhood that the venue for AC33 will indeed be Valencia, Spain, as previously speculated. It was confirmed that should this indeed be the case, AC33 would take place in 2009. If this isn't finalised soon, a three month bidding period will begin, and should another venue be selected, then racing would be in either 2010 or 2011 (again, the final announcement will be made on or before 31st December, 2007; presumably a new venue would need a longer lead time). Thus far, only Trapani in Sicily have declared any intent. As a land-locked country, the Swiss Team must select a coastal water in Europe (despite some speculation of a Dubai venue).

We'll be back to examine the fall out and speculation surrounding events in due course.

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