Should Team New Zealand contest the next America's Cup?

americas-cup-logo-300Dana Johannsen is calling for a boycott of the next America’s Cup after the rules for the next event seriously skewed things in favour of the defender, Oracle Team USA.

The biggest deterrent for challengers is the structure of the next event, which will be staged in four parts.

The first, the America’s Cup world series, is similar to the format that was introduced in the lead-up to the last event, but the new plans will expand on that with (allegedly) more teams, more regular regattas and more host cities.

The series, to be held over 2015-16, will double as the qualifying rounds for the America’s Cup proper as organisers look to move away from the centralised Louis Vuitton challenger series format that has been used for the past 30 years.

The world series will be sailed in the smaller one-design AC45 catamarans, before the teams move into the America’s Cup qualifiers, which will be sailed in AC62 catamarans, designed and engineered by the individual teams.

The top four teams from the qualifiers will then move on to the America’s Cup “playoffs”, with the winner going on to face Oracle in the 35th America’s Cup match.

The new set-up means the challengers will have to commit resources to designing, engineering and testing the new class of boat knowing there is a chance they may not even make it to the big show.

That doesn’t sound too bad though.

The defenders, meanwhile, have the luxury of being able to build and test two boats, insuring them against a catastrophic failure. How this rule got sign-off from the challenger of record is a mystery. Iain Murray, who heads Team Australia, the challenger of record, admitted there was a lot of “arguing” over this particular clause but hasn’t offered any explanation as to how Oracle won the argument.

Oh. You’ll recall during the lead up to the previous event, the spectacular capsizing of one of Oracle’s boats in San Francisco Bay. A two boat campaign is what has helped the likes of Team New Zealand develop their technology and speed and made them the dominant sailing team that they are.

In 2013, The America’s Cup drew enormous viewers for TV One’s coverage of the racing from San Francisco. More than a quarter of the population were tuned in at one point as we were a single point away from winning back the Auld Mug.

While the rules certainly favour Oracle and give them a self-serving advantage, pulling out in protest could signal the end of the team and the end of an era.

I have watched every America’s Cup on TV since I was a young boy. I remember KZ7. I remember the Australian boat sinking off San Diego. I remember staying home from church to watch the 5-0 victory over Dennis Connor and hear Pete Montgomery’s immortal words. Boycotting the next America’s Cup, while possibly understandable, would be devastating to a country that has such a rich history and cultural investment into the event.

I, for one, hope Team New Zealand can deliver and bring the cup home in 2015/16.

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About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, House of Cards, Mad Men and the NRL.
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  • Citizen Cane

    I wouldn’t miss it. But I think the world would miss New Zealand’s involvement and that could force a rethink on the rules. Short term pain long term gain.

    • GP

      I agree with you.

  • roger

    I 100% support a boycott. If they were smart, they could create a new, fair competition and take all the competitors with them. What would Ellison do then?
    These rules are not fair, they are set up to help Oracle win at all costs.
    Why waste our time and our taxes on a competition where we are set up to, in all likelihood, fail. If it was a fair competition, then sure.
    Regan, you may have lovely memories of past America’s Cups – that is lovely. But if Team NZ pull out, don’t blame them, blame Ellison and whoever else came up with these rules. Sometimes there comes a time to say, enough is enough. That time has come.
    Perhaps Team NZ pulling out would make him rethink the rules also? Larry Elison has said the America’s Cup wouldn’t be the same without our involvement.

    • Regan Cunliffe

      I wouldn’t necessarily blame ETNZ. Jimmy Spithill was on form on Breakfast this morning suggesting if they weren’t there, it was a mis-management issue. However, my memory also recalls that OTUSA are cheats and won’t stop at anything to retain the purse strings of the America’s Cup.

      I’m torn. I just want good, fair racing dammit!

      • roger

        I agree with you there. At its best, it is an epic competition.