America's Cup rule tweaks but no venue
Teams that will compete in the 37th America's Cup now know the regatta rules and conditions as well as some tweaks to the high-tech boats that will fly across the tops of waves.
But they still don't know where sailing's marquee regatta will be held in 2024, and probably won't for another 4 1/2 months.
Defending champions Emirates Team New Zealand are considering moving the next regatta offshore after failing to reach agreement with national and local governments on funding for a defence in Auckland.
The protocol released by the Kiwis and Challenger of Record INEOS Team UK on Wednesday makes provisions for racing to be held either in Auckland or, most likely, Europe or the Middle East.
The Kiwis have delayed the venue announcement to further consider bids from Cork, Ireland, Valencia, Spain, and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, and to determine if there's any chance the regatta can remain in Auckland.
The protocol gives ETNZ until March 31 to pick a venue.
It also sets the challenger selection series and the America's Cup match between January and September 2024, which will allow for a defence in either the Northern or Southern hemispheres. The Deed of Gift, the 19th century document that sets the framework for competition, calls for specific racing dates for each hemisphere.
Highlights of the protocol include cost-containing provisions such as limiting each team to building just one new foiling race boat, the introduction of a 40-foot boat for testing and to sail women's and youth regattas, and various changes to increase the performance of the AC75 racing boat, including reducing crew size from 11 to eight.
There could also be a return to the use of cyclors, the innovate use of bicycle power to run the hydraulic systems used to trim the sails and raise and lower the foils.
Teams will have the choice between using grinders or cyclors, which were banned from the last America's Cup.
Due to the high cost, the last America's Cup drew only three challengers. It's not yet known how many will challenge for the 37th America's Cup.
"I don't subscribe to the cost barrier thing because it's often just one of the great excuses for why someone can't make it or, 'I couldn't raise the money,'" said Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton, who added that he thinks teams can mount a campaign for $US60 million.
"If that's a barrier to getting involved, then that's unfortunate," Dalton said. "We'd like more teams, but it's still the America's Cup and it's not for everybody. So it's a fine balance between turning it into just another regatta and turning it into the premier technology race of the sport."
Other highlights of the protocol include shared team reconnaissance that will be made public, using the AC75s for the next two regattas and a requirement that each team build and operate two hydrogen-powered foiling chase boats.
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