Nov 24, 2016

Americas Cup: What's Next on the Road to Bermuda 2017 by TNZ

Photo: Team New Zealand AC45 Turbo.  Data sent by Team New Zealand. Check graphic version of schedule and more details at
The Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series wrapped up in Fukuoka this week after 9 events around the world over the past 18 months.

Each team, except Emirates Team New Zealand had at least one home event to bring the racing to the public and give the fans a taste of what is to come in 2017 in Bermuda.

But just how much of a taste was it of what is to come next year?
The short answer is, not a lot.

The AC45’s sailed on the LVACWS are complete one design boats, which were designed and developed five years ago by the Defender Oracle Team USA as the boat to use on the 34th America’s Cup preliminary World Series event, long before the concept of foiling was ever imagined.

Fast forward 4 years and these AC45’s were retrofitted to become foiling boats, after Emirates Team New Zealand bought foiling into the world of the America’s Cup in 2013.

And these are what the teams have been fleet race sailing around the world since July 2015.

Compare this to what will be on the water in 2017. For a start all racing will now be one-on-one match racing, no more fleet racing which has been what the World Series has been about.

The boats, the AC45 vs the America’s Cup Class boats commonly referred to as the AC50, which are 15 meters in length will be in a different stratosphere.

“Comparing the two boats would be like comparing a formula one car with a Toyota Corolla” explains Skipper Glenn Ashby, “Not that there is anything wrong with a Toyota Corolla of course, they are just different cars or boats for different purposes.”

“So I guess it would be fair to say, after watching the LVACWS, you ain’t seen nothing yet, in terms of how fast and manoeuvrable the AC Class boats are going to be next year in Bermuda.”

The America’s Cup has always been about designing the fastest boats, and without the fastest boat, it is near impossible to win the America’s Cup. So for the next six months all of the teams’ focus is now completely on design and development of their ACC boats and 4 race daggerboards which according to the protocol are allowed to be launched at anytime from the 27th of December 2016 or 150 days prior to the first scheduled race of the qualifiers.

So essentially the next time we will see boats line up against each other is on Friday the 26th of May 2017 in six months time, and the reason for this?

Under the current Protocol rules, competitors are not able to sail or train with each other their AC class yachts before the start of formal racing in the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers.

Article 35.5.(b) of the 35th America’s Cup protocol states:

Competitors shall only sail or test an AC Class Yacht in a coordinated manner with another Competitor at the Host City of the America’s Cup Qualifiers (if any) and/or at the Host City of the Match during periods to be specified by the Commercial Commissioner, in consultation with Regatta Director. Such dates shall be published no later than one (1) year prior to the first scheduled race of the America’s Cup Qualifiers.

Due to an apparent oversight, no dates or notice of coordinated sailing between competitors were ever published by the due date and now all teams are prevented from testing, or sailing in an organised fashion with each other in the AC Class yachts.

This may affect the strategies of the teams who have been training together in Bermuda in their test yachts and especially the Defender Oracle Team USA and challenger SoftBank Team Japan who are sharing design information and for all intent and purposes act as one team.

The effect of all of this for the fans is positive. The unknown performance between teams will only add to the intrigue of how each team compares to each other on the first reach of each match up together.

Traditionally this real intrigue doesn't peak until the first race of the America’s Cup match, but with the unprecedented move of allowing the Defender Oracle Team USA to sail against the Challengers in the early rounds of the challenger selection series everyone will get a fair idea of how the America’s Cup will eventuate in the first few days of racing in May.

With Land Rover BAR winning the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series, they earned 2 points to carry into the first round of the challenger selections series, or as it is officially called- the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, Oracle Team USA, the Defender, who came second earned 1 point to take into the first round of the Qualifiers against all of the challengers.

This is not the end of the opportunity to earn points forward.

Oracle Team USA, pull out of the racing after the end of the two round robins of the LVAC Qualifiers. If they win they will carry a point forward into the first to 7 points, America’s Cup Match.

But if one of the challengers wins the LVAC Qualifiers, they will be able to take a vital point forward into the America’s Cup Match, but obviously only if they go onto win the Louis Vuitton Cup Final, or as it is officially called, the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Playoffs, and right to race in the America’s Cup Match.

July 2015 - November 2016
Format: 9 x events accumulate points to find 1st & 2nd places who earn 2 & 1 point respectively
Status: Completed

26th May 2017 - 3rd June 2017
Format: Double Round Robin racing
Result: Lowest ranked team is eliminated from 35th America’s Cup racing
Oracle Team USA drop out of racing to prepare for America’s Cup Match

6th June 2017 - 8th June 2017
Format: The winner of the Qualifiers chooses their opponent in the semi final
2 x first to 5 point match race series
Result: 2 x losing teams are eliminated from 35th America’s Cup racing

10th June 2017- 12th June 2017
Format: 1 x first to 5 point match race series
Result: The losing team is eliminated from 35th America’s Cup racing.
The winning team will race Oracle Team USA in the America’s Cup Match.

17th & 18th June / 24th- 27th June 2017
Format: First to 7 points match race series
Result: The winner takes home the America’s Cup.

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