Written by Justin Chisholm
08 December 2021
The 37th America’s Cup in 2024 could be contested by up to six international teams, including Luna Rossa and Alinghi. American Magic and Stars & Stripes Team USA are playing their cards close to their chests and DutchSail has ruled out an AC37 challenge.
Last week after America’s Cup holders Emirates Team New Zealand representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club declared the official entry period open, challenges were reported to have been lodged by the Italian syndicate Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli – finalists at the 36th edition, along with one from the Swiss two-time America’s Cup winners, Alinghi.
In 2003 Alinghi won the 31st America’s Cup for the first time of asking after beating Emirates Team New Zealand in Auckland. The Swiss team put together by Ernesto Bertarelli successfully defended the trophy against the Kiwis in Valencia at AC32 in 2007.
Although their entry to AC37 has been widely reported in the New Zealand mainstream media, the team are yet to officially announce their return to the America’s Cup, after a gap of 11 years since they lost the Cup in 2010 to BMW Oracle Racing on the Mediterranean waters off Valencia, Spain in the 33rd edition Deed of Gift match, raced in monster-sized multihulls.
Alinghi’s official statement to media enquiries reads: “The America’s Cup remains as exciting as ever when it comes to secrets and speculations. The Alinghi Sailing Team closely follows all developments with the 37th America’s Cup. We will be in touch soon with further news.”
Alinghi is strongly rumoured to be working in partnership with Formula 1 team Red Bull Racing – a similar tie-up to that announced last month by Ben Ainslie’s Official Challenger of Record Ineos Britannia – and could be waiting for that deal to be formalised before going public on their AC36 challenge.
Luna Rossa has been more forthcoming on their status regarding AC36, answering an enquiry from Cup Insider with confirmation of a statement made by skipper and team director Max Sirena at the recent launch in Milan of a book about the team’s AC36 campaign.
“We have sent the notice of challenge, which includes the dossier with the documentation necessary to formalise registration for the event,” Sirena said
Although their challenges will need to be reviewed and ratified by ETNZ, Luna Rossa and Alinghi are believed to have paid the initial $1.47 million entry fee.
Meanwhile, American Magic – the United States challenger at AC36 headed by Terry Hutchinson and backed by keen grand Prix yacht racers Doug DeVos and Hap Fauth – is holding off on revealing whether it had filed a challenge yet for AC37.
The syndicate represented the New York Yacht Club during the 36th edition before being dropped by the Club earlier this year in favour of Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield’s Stars & Stripes Team USA campaign. The NYYC has since ruled itself out of any involvement with the 37th America’s Cup, and neither team has yet revealed its yacht club affiliation.
American Magic had previously announced its intention to challenge the 37th America’s Cup. Responding to an enquiry from Cup Insider, communications director Will Ricketson said the team planned to announce its status as soon as possible.
In the interim, the team is referring media to the previous statement by Doug DeVos, co-founder and team principal, following the recent publication of the Protocol for AC36:
“Our team plans to compete at AC37, and as part of that process, we continue to learn as much about the next event as we can,” DeVos said.
“The racing venue and the regatta dates remain unknown, but the release of the Protocol and the Class Rule is definitely welcome.”
Stars & Stripes Team USA co-founder and CEO Mike Buckley told Cup Insider that having spent some time digesting the new protocol, the team – which includes co-founder and helmsman Taylor Canfield – “believed that what the COR and Defender put together will create more opportunity for additional competitors”.
“The development of the AC40 boat is very exciting, and the creation of the Women’s America’s Cup is fantastic,” Buckley said. “We are really excited to see how AC37 will open more doors for people in our sport.
Buckley also said the team was: “continuing to put the pieces together internally so that we are in a position to be competitive when the racing starts in 2023/2024.”
Meanwhile, hopes of an AC36 challenge from the Netherlands have faded after the DutchSail team ruled themselves out. Previously, led by two-time America’s Cup winner Simeon Tienpont, the Dutch campaigners had lodged a challenge for the last America’s Cup but pulled out when the necessary funding was not forthcoming.
According to an email response to our enquiry, the syndicate’s communications team said DutchSail was currently focused on putting together an entry to The Ocean Race 2021-22 along with its ongoing youth programmes and had no plans to challenge for the 37th America’s Cup.
That said, given the Team DutchSail – Janssen de Jong youth team’s domination of the European 69F foiling monohull circuit this year, surely a tilt at the Youth America’s Cup to be run in conjunction with AC37 in 2024 cannot be ruled out.
Emirates Team New Zealand has not commented publicly on which teams have so far lodged challenges for AC37, preferring instead, they say, to let the individual challengers make such announcements.
In a statement on the America’s Cup website, ETNZ COO Kevin Shoebridge said that since the announcement of the Protocol for AC36, there had been “a very positive initial interest” and that “the feedback and interest from prospective teams, both existing and new has been very encouraging”.
Although no numbers were specified, the statement said that soon after the entry period opening, “several” challengers were received.
Aaron Young, Commodore of the RNZYS, said he believed the response was “a really positive indication and start to the 37th America’s Cup, which I think is a reflection on all of the incredible work that has been going on over the past eight months by ETNZ and the RNZYS which has set a solid foundation for a successful 37th America’s Cup.”
With the entry period for challenges open until July 31, 2022 (and with late entries accepted until 31 May 2023), it may seem strange that the Swiss and Italian teams have played their hand so early.
However, this is easily explained when you factor in that the allocation of the AC40 training boats is based on the order of submitted challenges. The first AC40s will go to the Defender and Challenger of Record, with delivery expected to happen at the end of 2022/beginning of 2023.
The next major milestone on the road to AC37 will be the announcement of the choice of host city along with the timing of the event, scheduled to be revealed by March 31, 2022.
Believed to be under consideration by ETNZ are Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Cork in Ireland, a Spanish proposal based around Barcelona and Valencia, as well as Auckland, New Zealand and a possible wildcard bid from an unknown city/country recently alluded to by ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton.
Given this uncertainty over the venue, it could be that we will not get full confirmation of which teams will be competing in the 37th America’s Cup until the end of March. Whether any other prospective teams will emerge at that stage is hard to say definitively, but such a scenario seems unlikely.