America’s Cup Controversy as Teams Threaten to Withdraw
It seems every announcement in the run up to the 35th America’s Cup has caused controversy, and the latest update is no different!
Last week the race organisers announced that the competition would be significantly downsizing its boats from AC62s to far smaller AC45s. The decision was justified by being estimated to shave up to $15-20million off each team’s budget.
Harvey Schiller, Commercial Commissioner for the 2017 event stated that the rule change would help conserve the future of the America’s Cup without dramatically affecting the ‘spectacle’ of the racing.
Initially the decision to use smaller boats was met with positive feedback from the teams involved. Oracle Team USA and Emirates Team New Zealand had already expressed their interest in the smaller boats in the early stages of organisational discussions. Artemis Racing, Team France and Ben Ainslie Racing have also released statements supporting the changes. However, the one remaining team, Lunar Rossa Challenge replied with the following statement: ‘If the principle of unanimity of all challengers required to change the Class Rule were not to be respected, Luna Rossa will be obliged to withdraw from the 35th America’s Cup.’
This all changed once more as Team New Zealand were informed that the new rule changes would mean they would not be able to host its scheduled event in Auckland, New Zealand in 2017. This would mean Team New Zealand would lose its backing from the New Zealand government to compete.
The situation leaves the organisers in a difficult position with little room to compromise. Either the AC62s are scrapped as planned and two long serving competitors withdraw, or they backtrack and continue with the AC62s. Both decision will be unpopular and is guaranteed to put further stress on the preparations to come.
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