CupExperience News
Issue 88 -  15 February 2019

In this issue...

  • Skullduggery? Read the Protocol
  • Power to the Challenger of Record
  • What's the "Or Else?"
  • Passports and Nationality
  • Payments and Protests
  • Key Dates & Facts
Hi Friend,
Skullduggery? Read the Protocol
With no racing in sight, and the launch of the AC75 yachts delayed, we are left with the competition among the lawyers for entertainment.

The Arbitration Panel recently delivered its first decision, a possibly illusory victory for the challenger from Malta - see "Nationality" below. Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has confirmed there are arbitration "applications" (cases) currently underway dealing with Protocol amendments and the validity of the three late entry challenges.

Is skullduggery afoot? Before diving into these cases, let's read the Protocol.
The Protocol, or "Power to the Challenger of Record"
In 2015, Luna Rossa angrily dropped out of the 2017 America's Cup when Oracle and all the other challengers except Team New Zealand demonstrated the tyranny of the majority and binned the AC62 Class Rule.

Trick me once, shame on you. Trick me twice, shame on me.

This time around, Luna Rossa holds all the cards on the challenger side of the table.
  • There can be no changes to the Protocol without Luna Rossa's approval.
  • There is no "Challenger Committee" or anything similar. Article 1.2 says Luna Rossa "represents" all the other challengers, meaning they make the Protocol related decisions for all the challengers.
  • Even if they get eliminated in the racing, they remain the "Challenger of Record." Another team may go on to be the Challenger in the Match against New Zealand, but Circolo della Vela Sicilia remains Challenger of Record - the decision maker for all the challengers.
  • Prada is the main sponsor for the entire event, including the Match, and has wide power over the commercial rights.
What's the "Or Else?"
What happens if one of the competitors breaches the terms of the Protocol?

Sometimes the penalty is clear, sometimes the Arbitration Panel decides.

Here's an example from Article 2.2 of the Protocol: "Each Competitor shall be required to enter and participate in all events of the ACWS. Any Challenger that does not meet this requirement will no longer be eligible to participate in either the Christmas Race or the Challenger Selection Series."

So, if a Challenger misses an AC World Series, they have no chance of getting to the Prada Cup, much less the Match. Pretty clear.

But what if the Defender decides they'd rather train in Auckland than race in the ACWS? Not so clear. Article 53.10 to the rescue: the Arbitration Panel imposes the penalty, if any. Remember this when we talk about payments, below.
Passports and "Nationality"
The Protocol has a clear definition of "nationality" and requires 100% of the race crews in the Challenger Selection Series and the Match to have the "nationality" of the country of their yacht club. There are two ways to have "nationality" -
  1. be a "national" (citizen) of the country.
  2. have your "principal place of residence" in that country, as evidenced by three tests, all of which must be met:
    - be present 380 days during the two years to 31 August 2020
    - permanent-not-temporary residence
    - economic or social ties, e.g. property ownership

Responding to a request for interpretation made by the Malta Altus Challenge, the Arbitration Panel ruled that as long as a sailor is a citizen of the team's country when they race, they meet the nationality requirement. This is not a "liberal interpretation" of the Protocol; it is a strict reading, including the dictionary definition of "national."

Will the Arbitration Panel need to rule in 2021 on cases with questions of whether "principal place of residence" has been established?

Image: The Economist
Will the Arbitration Panel's ruling allow the Malta Altus Challenge to recruit international sailors without them needing to establish residence? Maybe not. The "GoldenVisas" website shows that €1.2 million, plus one year of residence, are needed for investors to receive citizenship. Citizenship for sailors would logically be part of the deal the team wants to negotiate with the government. But the Malta Times reports that no progress has been made on a deal in the two months since the challenge was announced.
COR demonstrates fairness
A Protocol amendment could change the nationality rule to add a date by which someone would need to become a naturalized citizen. COR has stated that they would not request such an amendment since it would be unfair to change this rule after the fact.
How does the Protocol compare with the Olympics on citizenship?
About the same, really.  Rule 41 of the Olympic Charter requires all athletes to be citizens of the country they represent. A theoretical three year waiting period to change countries can be waived if both countries concerned agree. Russia and Belarus are two countries that provide "fast-track naturalization" for athletes who "present exceptional benefits to the state." American gymnast Kylie Dickson lives and trains in Los Angeles. Not quite good enough to make the American team, she was granted Belarusian citizenship to compete in Rio, even without visiting Belarus. American basketball player Becky Hammon did not make the US women's basketball team, but was granted Russian citizenship to play in Beijing and London. Another American, J.R. Holden, was on the Russian national men's basketball team in Beijing. And South Korean born short track speed skater Ahn Hyun-soo won 3 gold medals and a bronze as a Russian in Sochi 2014 after his 3 golds and a bronze at Torino 2006 skating for South Korea.
Protests and Payments
ETNZ confirmed to Richard Gladwell that there are matters before the Arbitration Board: "the Defender confirms there is an AC Arbitration Panel case underway involving applications in relation to requested Protocol Amendments and the validity of Late Entry Challenges." RNZYS also stated that they expect a decision in the second half of April.

La Stampa has reported that the issue is over extensions for paying the fees (entry, late entry and performance bond).  All three late challengers have confirmed to me that they believe their challenges are in order. COR has stated that they believe fairness means treating all teams equally.

How might this play out?
  • Protocol Amendments relaxing payment dates would require COR's approval. This seems unlikely since COR wants all teams treated equally.
  • The Protocol specifies no penalty for late payments. The Arbitration Panel could impose a fine and a tight deadline for paying any overdue fees.

Waiting for a decision until late April makes it even more unlikely that there will be an ACWS regatta in October.

"You Better Book Your Hotel Room Now."
Grant Dalton   AC Overture     31 August 2018

Grant Dalton said he expects hundreds of thousands of visitors to Auckland for the 2021 America's Cup. He pointed out that "Emirates Team New Zealand" was the most clicked on internet term in New Zealand for the past two years  "... higher than All Blacks, anything." Dalton says it will be "all on" in Auckland during the America's Cup, so "You better book your hotel room now."

Will you be in Auckland for the America's Cup?

You, the Blind Men and the Elephant - What Do You Like?   
You know the story of the blind men and the elephant - depending on where you touch the elephant, it might seem like a tree, a wall, a firehose or a rope. The America's Cup can look like a sailing race, a design contest, a courtroom battle or a luxury lifestyle activity.  What do you like about it?  Click as many as you like! Help me prioritize topics to write about. I'm setting up pages and gathering content for each of these topics. I'll keep you posted about the ones you select.

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Key Facts

Dates Met

  • 28-Sep'17: 36th America’s Cup Protocol released
  • 30-Nov'17: AC75 Class concepts released to key stakeholders
  • 1-Jan'18: Entries for Challengers open
  • 31-Mar'18: AC75 Class Rule published, important details TBA
  • 30-Jun'18: End of "Challenging Period" (avoid $1M late fee)
  • 30-Jun'18: Last day Defender and COR can change AC75 Rule; after this date, changes require unanimous agreement from all competitors
  • 29-Jun'18: Specs for AC75 Foil Cant System (FCS)
  • 31-Aug'18: Venue of the America’s Cup Match and The PRADA Cup confirmed 26-Mar'18
  • 31-Aug'18: Drawings & Specs for AC75 one design mast
  • 31-Aug'18: Specific race course area confirmed
  • 30-Nov'18: Late entries deadline ($1M late fee)

Future Dates
Some of these dates can be found in the Protocol. Others were added in the AC75 Class Rule v1.1, e.g. setting the dates for freezing restrictions on how the FCS can be used (30-Nov'19) and for modifications to the FCS by ETNZ/Luna Rossa
  • 31-Mar'19: Boat 1 can be launched
  • 31Mar'19: Venues (and dates) of 2019 AC World Series
    One event has been announced for Cagliari (ITA) in October.
    One more event remains to be announced.
  • 2nd half of 2019: 1 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
    (Unlikely to be held)
  • 30-Nov'19: Venues (and dates) of 2020 AC World Series
  • 30-Nov'19:  Foil Cant System usage restrictions frozen
  • 20-Dec'19: Match Conditions: Notice of Race and Conditions for Racing
  • 1-Feb'20: Boat 2 can be launched
  • 30-Jun'20: Challenger Selection Series (Prada Cup) Conditions
  • 31-Aug'20: Foil Cant System updates frozen
  • During 2020: 3 x America’s Cup World Series Preliminary Events
  • 1-Nov'20:   Sailing Instructions for AC Match and CSS
  • December 10-20, 2020: America’s Cup Christmas Race
  • February 2021: PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series (CSS)
  • March 2021: The America’s Cup Match

AC Guide - What-Where-When-Who

I've built the AC Guide to give you a central index to all the key info about the 36th America's Cup:

  • teams
  • yachts
  • calendar
  • rules
  • events
  • skullduggery
  • special benefits for CLUB members

The AC Guide will frequently update as new info comes out. You'll be able to go there for the latest details.

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