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America's Cup: New York Yacht Club Challenger irked over Match Condition delay

by Richard Gladwell Sail-World NZ 8 Jan 11:13 GMT 9 January 2020
NYYC - American Magic - Newport RI © Daniel Forster

New York Yacht Club's skipper for the upcoming series of America's Cup Regattas is unhappy that the deadline for publication of Match Conditions governing the series wasn't met.

In an interview with Bernie Wilson of Associated Press , NYYC American Magic's CEO and Skipper, Terry Hutchinson says: "Our first thought was, well guys, you've had 2 1/2 years to sort this out, why on Earth would you wait until the 11th hour to determine this?"

Hutchinson was referring to the requirement, stated in the Protocol governing the competition for the 36th Match and preliminaries for the almost 170year old trophy, that the Match Conditions had to be published by December 20, 2019.

Three days later it emerged that the teams of the Defender, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (Emirates Team NZ) and Challenger of Record, Circolco della Vela Sicilia (Luna Rossa) had not reached agreement on one point, and the matter had been referred to the America's Cup Arbitration Panel.

"Earlier in the week we reached agreement on all the Match Conditions except for wind limits," Emirates Team New Zealand rules adviser, Russell Green told Sail-World on December 23, 2019. "We proposed the same upper limit as Bermuda - 24kts. The Challenger wanted a lower limit and wanted to be able to sail the Challenger Series in winds under 20kts, which we think is unrealistic for Auckland conditions."

"The Protocol requires the wind limit to be the same for the Challenger Selection Series and the Match," Green told Sail-World.

Hutchinson is also not pleased that the Challengers as a group have been linked with the Italian proposals for the 20 and 22kt wind limit, as reported by other media.

"To be crystal clear, these decisions are between the Challenger of Record and Defender, and we have zero say in it,' Hutchinson told Bernie Wilson a well connected and highly regarded America's Cup correspondent.

"It's a bit of an insult to be tarred with the same brush", Hutchinson continued. "To that point, for the life of me, I don't know what the holdup is. It's pretty simple: Come to an agreement and get on with it."

Emirates Team New Zealand's response to occasional questioning on wind limits for the America's Cup has consistently been that they wished to get a better feel for the capabilities of the AC75 before making their decision on upper and lower wind limits. The first AC75 foiling monohull was only launched in early September 2019. It had been expected the first AC75 would have been sailing six months earlier.

The upper wind limit decision is complicated by the announcement on August 31, 2018, that five course areas would be used for the 36th America's Cup. Previously a single course area only has been designated. Two of the five locations in Auckland were identified as options to be used in adverse weather.

Hutchinson went on to say that the Italian proposal for 20 knots seems "reasonably soft, but again, we just want to be told. Like most of these things, as a Challenger, what we want to avoid is being surprised. Withholding the match conditions is exceptionally disappointing as a competitor. They've had 2 to 2 1/2 years to sort it out. It's consistent with most of the negotiations between Luna Rossa and Team New Zealand."

Just over a week ago Sailing Sardinia published a video of Luna Rossa sailing their AC75 in the Scirocco off Sardinia in winds and sea conditions that were appeared to be well over 20kts.

The New Zealanders resolve to avoid being caught again with an excessively low wind limit (19kts) that prevailed for the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup, was underscored over the past week, as competitors in the P class nationals in Tauranga only stopped racing when the wind reached 35kts.

In the 2003 Louis Vuitton Cup, over a third of the scheduled race days were lost, creating havoc with TV broadcast schedules and commitments.

The other two Challengers, INEOS Team UK and Stars + Stripes Team USA, have not commented.

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