Team Australia Withdraw from 2017 America's Cup
Plans for the 2017 America’s Cup have been disrupted by the withdrawal of the official Challengers of Record, Team Australia, from the next regatta.
The 35th America's Cup event, which is to be held in either San Diego or Bermuda is reportedly too expensive for Australia's Hamilton Island Yacht Club to compete in.
The Challenger of Record is a role given to the first entrant accepted by the Defender, which comes with the responsibility of agreeing the next event’s rules, and guaranteeing a fair competition. If and when the Challenger of Record is eliminated during the competition, the role is handed over to the second accepted entrant. However, the Challenger of Record tradition has been distorted in recent years as two teams in a row have jilted the obligation before the competition has begun.
Like Hamilton Island Yacht Club, Yacht Club di Roma, the Challenger of Record for the 34th America’s Cup, also pulled out before the competition began after failing to negotiate a more affordable and accessible competition Protocol with the respective Defender. Bob Oately, owner of the Hamilton Yacht Club and wine magnate said: "the challenge was initiated with a view to negotiating a format for the 35th America's Cup that was affordable and put the emphasis back on sailing skills." Hamilton Island Yacht Club’s decision that the 2017 America’s Cup would not meet this criteria was made on Saturday, and the team’s withdrawal followed shortly.
Although Team Australia’s resignation from sport's oldest sporting trophy may appear strange, it is perhaps more unsettling that to sailing insiders, the decision is not at all surprising. Below are a number of ways in which the 2017 America’s Cup boat looks as though it will continue to rock.
+ There is a belief that the Defense CEO Russell Coutts has more interest in the America’s Cup’s commercial benefits than in the sailing.
+ Many are unhappy that last year’s race location, San Francisco, has been neglected as a possible location for the 2017 event due to financial reasons.
+ The possibility of Bermuda as a 2017 competition location is also a contentious issue, as many are skeptical about its logistical and commercial attributes.
+ The America’s Cup Protocol states the Defender must not accept a challenge for the cup unless there are at least four challengers. Losing Australia, and the French entry looking uncertain, there are only four teams that would be able to challenge - Team New Zealand, Artemis, Luna Rossa and Ben Ainslie’s British team.
+ Many feel the deadline for teams to pay a $1.025 million entry fee by August 8, without confirmation of the event location and dates, is an unnecessary complication that obstructs securing funding and sponsorship.
For now, the Team Australia’s early exit is the only main disruption to the 2017 event. However, by August 8, we should have a clearer picture of how the 2017 America’s Cup will shape up.
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Article by Jack Bartrop