Two things about the recent New York Yacht Club (NYYC) challenge for the America’s Cup, one very surprising and one not surprising at all. As a club who held the cup for 132 years, thinking it was their own so much so they had it bolted down in their trophy room leading, it is said, to Ben Lexcen offering to lend them a spanner for when Australia 2 won The Cup in 1983 one would think they understood the rules.
There is a legitimate Challenge in place to Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron represented by Emirates Team New Zealand from the Royal Yacht Squadron Racing represented by Team INEOS UK.
The two squadrons and their teams are currently working on the Protocol which has been reported as due to be released in October of this year. Quite frankly, that Protocol, including any hints or teasers the relevant parties decide to release to other interested parties is solely the business of those involved.
For the NYYC to try and ‘crash the party’ with a spurious challenge and protocol which has garnered a terse and yet perhaps a surprisingly polite response from those with the absolute right to put together the Protocol for AC37 including, one can safely assume, who can join the Challenger of Record in any kind of elimination series and under what conditions.
It also gives the NYYC (undeserved) bragging rights if any of the elements of ‘their’ proposal are included in the ‘Official’ Protocol, whether or not the two squadrons were thinking along those lines already or not. I think in the commercial world it would be considered an attempted hijack.
So although the NYYC should know the way the game should be played the fact they have taken the course of action they have is not surprising considering some of the ways the field of play was slanted by the Club in W 44th Street over the years.
Challenger and Defender having to get there on their own bottom meaning challengers having to be built ocean crossing strong while the defenders could have much lighter scantlings, the crew having to be nationals even to the point of the first great (and Scottish born) America’s Cup skipper having to become a nationalized American to defend 3 Cups in a row for them.
Then when Australia 2 proved to be as fast as she did they tried to have her disqualified even though she had previously been measured by an IYRU (the then equivalent of World Sailing) measurer and passed as a 12m. Then when all else failed it was said one of the NYYC Committee even suggested scrapping the whole event that year because they might lose it.
So the NYYC are no strangers in changing rules, sticking the oar in, or muddying the waters when it comes to the Oldest International Sporting Trophy in the World.
As it stands – right now – how the next America’s Cup regatta is run is none of their business other than as interested observers and they should leave those parties which have earned the right to write the Protocol of AC37 to just do so.
Then and only then, when they officially throw their hat in the ring, join the discussion. – SS.