these are the rules, sort of

Well, the America’s Cup 37 Protocol is out in the open, some would say at last. And it is, um, interesting.

The presentation this morning/evening depending on where on the marble you were, appeared to be scripted with Shirley Robertson constantly referring to her notes on her iPad to make sure she got the wording right to enable the participants to get their piece out in response. 

I’m not saying this apparent role as a facilitator rather than an interviewer is wrong, just perhaps different than expected. Having said that, how do you get the salient points of an 80+ page document crammed into a 35-minute broadcast?

It is noticeable that comments and criticisms within a matter of hours were already flowing that this is not right or that is not right about a document that the (currently) two interested parties who, let’s face it, know the game pretty well, have spent months discussing or perhaps even arguing over through the likes of Zoom and e-mails to arrive at what was presented t the world today – on time this time too!

Cost and visible sustainability are clearly issues and without putting in place a rigid Formula 1 style spending cap which would be a nightmare to police the D/CoR have chipped away at the things that ARE very visible and impossible to hide.

First of all, the number of sailors on the boat reduced from 11 to 8 which, if one was not aware of the salaries top sportspeople can earn might not seem a lot. Nowhere near what the soccer stars earn but rather more than Joe Public.

That cost reduction, along with the removal of the Code 0 and its associated bowsprit, as stated would bring a fair bit of weight off the boat making jumping out of the water in light airs a possibly much easier especially when considering the allowing the foils ‘wing span’ to be increased by 0.5m per side. (or not. – ed)

 A much bigger saving will be the limiting of the ‘fleet’ to just one AC75 (or AC67.5 without the bowsprit) along with a control placed on the number of foils and other components that may be produced for the Cup Boat

It is fantastic to see the Youth America’s Cup concept which China Sports Industry initially supported before COVID killed it off, being retained to be joined with a Women’s America’s Cup. Each team will have to purchase an AC40 to compete in these two events although costing a fraction of the Cup Boat itself. It is great to see these two initiatives enshrined in the Protocol

The other boat is of course a hydrogen-powered foiling chase boat. The last couple of Cups have shown up the challenge an ordinary RIB has in keeping up with the action to say nothing of the pounding the bodies of the crew must take bouncing across the waves. A foiler should find it easier to keep in touch with their mother-ship while giving the team members manning it a more comfortable and less exhausting ride.

By the looks of it, cyclers are back in which has already raised some comments along the lines of 2 sailors, and the rest perhaps just hydraulic oil pumpers is not worthy of the America’s Cup.

It is a case of development and pushing the envelope, and I would not be surprised if 100 years ago there were comments made when geared winches were introduced wondering if not having to have 20 guys hauling a genoa sheet every tack was really the America’s Cup.

Change is easier for some than for others! Another cost-saving/sharing is the starting software will be supplied to all teams.

Perhaps the most groundbreaking element of the Protocol is the sharing of information amongst teams, what they are calling ‘Shared Team Recon’. No more closed and locked doors it seems.  (this sounds like a ridiculous idea and one that will no doubt become a joke ed).

And not just from each other as Grant Dalton stated that discussions are currently underway for a ‘fly on the wall’ reality TV series following along from along the lines of Formula One’s ‘Drive to Survive’. (this too sounds ridiculous. how many people do they think actually care about the America’s Cup? – ed)

Judging by the smiles and the body language in the video, all parties are pleased with the result of their discussions/negotiations. Let’s hope it stays that way. The previous Cup wasn’t quite so harmonious. 

One thing that was still not announced was the venue, obviously discussions are still ongoing. Dalton stated the chance of Auckland was ‘slim’ while some of the Irish media still reckon Cork is still on the RADAR. For that information, we will, currently have to wait until 22 March 2022 according to the published timeline.


Nationality Rules were, however, for the most part, made very clear with a number of options to qualify as part of the 100%.

That is the percentage of the sailing team that MUST qualify as a national or resident of the challenging or defending club and the deadline passed earlier this year. This rule applies equally to the Youth and Women’s events.

So born there, got their passport and therefore Nationals -er, not that simple. If they have that country’s passport or proof of citizenship – big tick, naturally.

Where the nationality requirement starts to be diluted is that a sailor was in the challenging club’s country for 548 days between 17 March 2018 and 18 March 2021 that also counts. Some of the top sailors might have spent a considerable amount of time out of that country on Cup duties so those days also count towards qualifying.

Clever cost reduction there. If we use Jimmy Spithill as an example, he could be part of an Italian crew in AC37 but if, for example, Alinghi offers him a King’s Ransom to join them he wouldn’t be able to sail on the boat.

So effectively the international transfer market for silly money is stopped in its tracks before it begins. The other element is that in the main, NZL & GBR have a sufficiently large pool of talent so that this nationality rule suits both the Challenger of Record and the Defender. 


The Cup people are not stupid (they’re not? – ed) however and clearly realize if they wish more challengers, some who have perhaps much less experience or a smaller talent pool they need to also somehow attract them to the game.

Somewhat different rules for emerging nations because, if they haven’t played before, then how do they gain sufficient expertise to compete or even more so, not be a danger on the racecourse?

This doesn’t appear to be carved in stone because they have to APPLY to COR/D for that status allowing dispensation from having to have 100% of their sailors qualifying.

Two things are likely to determine that ‘Emerging Nation’ status are (overall) experience of the team and experience of the non-nationals that the team wants on board. Oh and ‘other relevant circumstances’ but doesn’t list what they might be. (clearly well thought out – ed)

Loads of holes and grey areas in this part of the Protocol. Does it mean that if we have another Shosholoza they would NOT be considered an emerging nation because they have played before? Or Qingdao International Yacht Club which was about as Chinese as I am, was less of a legitimate challenger than the CNEV case would later rule, was effectively a French boat with a Chinese backer and occasionally had a Chinese crew member on board would that make China an Emerging Nation or not?

Of course, as time goes by the COR/D has the right to amend the Protocol and this may be one element that needs tightening up. The balance of the Protocol is such details as to costs (individual and shared), venues, time scales the class of yacht to be used (see Class Rules) and other ‘fluff’.

Important ‘fluff’ of course but not central to The Cup.

If I can’t sleep tonight I will go through the documents with a fine-tooth comb to see if there is anything vital I have missed


Find the presentation and Protocol & Class Rules at