Front Rudder – by Mark Reid

What Is Old, Is New Again In A Wild and Wonderful America’s Cup

My world revolves around a few special events. Some are annual pilgrimages, others not so much. The Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend kicks off like clockwork every year for the most part since 1975 for me. There are the occasional rain delays. Last year the race took place in August rather than May, for unfortunate, but rather obvious reasons.

No one will emerge from this pandemic untouched. It goes without saying that it is one of the horrible tragedies of our lifetime, and the loss of life can never be repaid. Many of the sporting and social events we took for granted were either delayed or cancelled.

One would say that it was a small price to pay for the untold sacrifice that so many other people were making at our behest to return to life as normal as we knew it. In many ways, life will never be the same. That is why it is so important to take stock of every moment and relish, cherish and enjoy those special memories when they take place in our lives.

ETNZ Helmsman Peter Burling holds the America’s Cup trophy in celebration as the Kiwis defend the Auld Mug 7-3. Photo courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget/

Sports for many of us not only create participatory fulfillment and enjoyment, but they can also be a crucial diversion from many of the stressful aspects in our lives. Certainly in this past year, when certain sporting events did return, they could not have done so at a more important time for many of us that needed or were looking for, at least a temporary reprieve from the tumultuous times that our world was passing through.

In many ways, New Zealand is a world and a paradise as far removed as any other place on our planet. It couldn’t be farther away from any of us if it wanted to be. Not only is it geographically distant, but given the current upheaval here on our side of the world, nothing could be farther removed from reality than the Kiwi kingdom.

For the first half of the series, the starts were crucial in determining the winner. Here, ETNZ gets the jump on Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli. Photo courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget/

Other than a few short-lived COVID-19 hiccups that led to temporary lockdowns, life in New Zealand was truly remarkable to behold. Large crowds and gatherings with no masks or social distancing were bizarre to witness. Unfortunately for me, not to experience.

So, amid the world’s struggle to contain and control a coronavirus we will never forget, the America’s Cup took place. For many, it seemed easier to postpone the world’s longest continuing sporting event for another year. The ACWS’s had been cancelled in Portsmouth and Sardinia. It only made sense to put off the battle for the Auld Mug for another year.

New Zealand has been the first country since the United States to defend the America’s Cup twice. Photo courtesy of ACE 36/Studio Borlenghi.

But as mentioned, New Zealand under the brilliant leadership of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, had emerged largely unscathed in comparison to other parts of the world like here in America, Italy and Great Britain, which were crippled under tragic proportions that are now looking back unfathomable to comprehend by the sure veracity of the numbers affected.

For the teams though, the clocks were ticking as even the billionaires involved have budgets as the expenditures for the four teams involved approached $500 million and counting moment by moment, day by day. The Ocean Race which did postpone their event until 2022, as it was now scheduled to occupy the newly redeveloped piers at Waitemata Harbour in Auckland at the same time a rescheduled America’s Cup would have taken place if delayed.

So, there were few alternatives but to keep the show on the “road” moving, be it hell or high water. Both as far as it turned out for the beleaguered American Magic team was concerned!

The ETNZ AC75 is almost like a big, wide skiff or moth. The Kiwi hull is quite unique. Photo courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget/

I was scheduled to attend. I had completed the necessary steps and jumped through the right hoops. Media people were even classified as “essential” workers to enter what was a gated, locked down paradise. But when the time came, the doors were essentially closed for many of us, as returning nationals had priority for quarantine hotels where two-week stays were required for entry.

The new variant strains made it almost impossible, and at the last moment I pulled the plug and threw my hands up in surrender. To my surprise and delight though, the Media Center under the direction of several of my old comrades in arms had gone to great lengths to include us through Zoom portions of the press conferences so that many of us could get our questions in during the nightly affairs.

For me, that usually took place around 2 or 3:00 in the morning. I have been on “kiwi” time since early December, and my body clock is about as screwed up as it can be!

The press conferences have sometimes been quite illuminating. L-R Luna Rossa’s Max Sirena, Francesco Bruni, Jimmy Spithill and then ETNZ’s Peter Burling, Dan Bernasconi, Blair Tuke, Ray Davies and Glenn Ashby. Photo courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget/

Where do Cardi B and my Fighting Illinois basketball team fit into this story? In reality, not much, but while I was writing and editing my story, the Grammy’s were on TV. To say the least, my eyes glanced up as she and Megan Thee Stallion’s performance of “WAP” captured my attention, and needless to say it took some time and a few America’s Cup replays on YouTube to get my mind back to sailing! It wasn’t PG to say the least.

As for my Illinois team going into the NCAA Tournament as a Number 1 seed and then flaming out shortly thereafter, unfortunately typical, but after driving down to Indy to see if Michigan could recapture the Big Ten’s mojo, it was not to be as they were vanquished by UCLA, which should make all you readers happy!

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli approaches the Prada “popsicle” gate at high speed. Photo courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget/

Before we get to the show or the main event of the story here, I want to personally thank Bruno Trouble who emceed the Prada pressers, along with Maguelonne Turcat, Giordana Pipornetti and Antonio Vettese who ran the Media Center that made our lives much easier and allowed us to do our jobs from afar.

So, the show did go on and what an event it was!

As we know, American Magic from the New York Yacht Club capsized in a controversial maneuver that will not escape the test of time. As valiant as the rebuild was for their AC 75, Patriot, it was not to be as they were quickly dispatched 4-0 in the elimination series with Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.

The Italians went on to crush INEOS Team UK who had been on a roll 7-1 in the Prada Cup final, leaving the shocked British searching for as many answers that Oprah Winfrey’s TV interview with Meghan and Harry had left them. Hopefully, INEOS CEO and their skipper remain in Princess Kate’s good graces, as the Brits will ultimately return to this passion play as we will find out later in the story. Sorry, no surprises or sneak previews as of yet!

The Covid-19 restrictions were lifted in time for New Zealanders to show up in mass to enjoy the America’s Cup Village. Photo courtesy of ACE 36/Studio Borlenghi.

This we do know. Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) would represent the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) who is the Defender/Trustee against Challenger of Record (COR) Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli flying the colors and burgee of Circolo della Vela Sicilia from Sardinia, Italy in a best of 13 or the first to win seven races for the America’s Cup.

It was the Italians third trip to the match. Il Moro di Venezia with the SF Bay Area’s Paul Cayard as Skipper/CEO, lost in 1992 4-1 to America 3, and Luna Rossa lost 5-0 in 2000 to Team New Zealand in a shockingly one-sided affair after the Italians had narrowly beaten Cayard, now sailing for our side again for the St Francis Yacht Club on America One 5-4 to win the Louis Vuitton Cup.

The Italians are led by Prada Boss Patrizio Bertelli, and under the direction of longtime leader Max Sirena. On the water, they featured a unique dynamic duo of Jimmy Spithill and Francesco Bruni to share the helm as each “driver” stayed in place at their appointed wheel, eliminating the wayward shifting from starboard to port that the other skippers were subject to and what befell Nathan Outteridge on Artemis in 2017 when he went overboard in a crucial race.

New Zealand helmsman Peter Burling has become one of the elite skippers in America’s Cup history, and he knows how to chill! Photo courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget/

The Kiwis compete under a combo power punch of corporate and government sponsorship and assistance that has kept the team afloat for almost 30 years. They are led by the bulldoggish, no-nonsense Grant Dalton.

Dalton was instrumental in putting the “wheels” back on the “bus” in 2003 when they fell off in a disaster of a defense which left the Kiwis without the Cup, which ironically was taken by a renegade bunch led by the previous winning team, led by Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth.

On the water, ETNZ has young superstars Peter Burling and Blair Tuke driving Te Retuhai under the tactical leadership of Glenn Ashby, and off the water coached by Ray Davies.

For the most part, this is the same group that won the America’s Cup in Bermuda in 2017, beating OTUSA led by Spithill who is on a little bit of a revenge bender to bring the Cup to Italy by prying it away from the kids who took it from him 7-2 on the crystal turquoise waters of the Great Sound that summer. Definitely one summer I will never forget!

Many of the so-called “experts” are calling for a lopsided affair, graciously giving Luna Rossa a win or two as a courtesy.

They may be right, but I am a little more optimistic that the event could be much closer than anticipated. Though the America’s Cup may be better placed in Europe for the time being than in New Zealand, a change in scenery isn’t always bad. Right?

ETNZ’s Radical hull shape and razor thin foils were blazingly fast! Photo courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget/

Not that the Kiwis aren’t amazing hosts and the country isn’t spectacularly beautiful, it’s just from a commercial standpoint, the America’s Cup would attract many more teams in Italy.

Unfortunately, the America’s Cup Match got off to a bit of a late start, so after three and a half years we’re going to have to wait a few more days. Alas, racing began after Auckland moved back down to Level 2 when the storm systems subsided and the recent earthquake infused tsunami threats had passed.

It looks like a light winds match, which may favor the Italians. We’ll see, as there are certainly subtle differences in the hull and foil shapes of both teams.

Te Retuhai is certainly a bit more radical with a very full-bodied and shapely hull. The winglets at the leading edge of the foil arms are razor thin, and have less of a dihedral angle to them than the Italians foils on Luna Rossa.

But the tempest in the teapot may be in the sails. Both teams have systems and shapes that generate more power than their recently vanquished predecessors.

ETNZ has even resurrected the dormant in December Code Zero sail. It will be interesting if the “Dodo” actually makes an appearance.

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli had the early advantage in the series, taking a brief 2-1 lead that was short lived. Photo courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget/

Here’s the show as the opening battle begins!

The 36th America’s Cup

After three years of intense work, it was time to race. As highlighted in Cup’s past, there is a magical moment with the big question mark on the relative speeds of the two boats, a mystery that always shows itself on the first leg of the first race for that “magical moment.”

Who would be faster? Defender or Challenger? Or would it be close? With a 13 to 15 knot breeze from the NW on Race Day One, both ETNZ and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli were focused and fired up, ready for the first clash of the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada.

Day One, Race One

With ETNZ entering on the port, they chose to sail deep, then lead out to the boundary. Luna Rossa followed, engaging them below the line, giving Kiwi Skipper Peter Burling a glimpse of the line to windward of the Italians. He took it and starting strongly to windward at speed and on time, quickly gaining a lead of 18 meters off the line.

This forced the Italians into a choice of holding on to the leeward position or throwing a high-risk maneuver to try for a foul. Jimmy Spithill luffed hard, trying for the protest and failed, slowing him and allowing ETNZ to ease ahead to control the leg and the race.

New Zealand kept a tight cover for most of the race, only extending on the final leg to win by 1 minute and 31 seconds.

“Really happy with the pre-start and how the team has the boat in good shape,” said Burling. “We should have probably hit them harder on the second beat, but happy with the boat and to finally get into racing. It’s been three months or so since we last raced, and great to compete against another boat rather than our chase boat.”

Regatta Director Iain Murray had the unenviable task at picking the race courses out on a daily basis. He does have the universal respect of all. Photo courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget/

Day One, Race Two

With both teams changing down to smaller jibs for the increased shifty and gusty conditions, they were keen to reset and get into the second race of the day. Luna Rossa entered on the port, heading out to the boundary to gybe back to the line, with ETNZ staying high, tacking back in then soaking down to engage. Coming back in late allowed Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli the lead to the line, and to be in control of the race course as these conditions strongly favored the boat in front and it stayed that way until the finish, though the Kiwis gave the Italians a fright on the last leg rocketing down the course to finish just 7 seconds behind.

“We just kept the boat going well, and it was a good sign of strength to bounce back after that first race,” said Spithill. “I think it was one of those race tracks where the lead boat had the advantage picking the time to tack or gybe. It is great to be competitive!”

“We didn’t get the best start, not quite doing the best job of the roundup and ended up skidding sideways and falling into them which was a shame, and we looked a bit rusty there,” said Burling. “What was really good was to be able to get back into them on that last beat. It is no secret we haven’t raced for a while and it was great to get the first win, but one mistake and life is pretty hard for the rest of the race.”

Day Two, Race Three

Following a delay due to spectators encroaching the race course boundaries, both teams sailed high and slow before the start, then turned down parallel to the line, accelerating for a clean start out to the left side after the gun. Luna Rossa dug in just behind Te Rehutai sailing wide off their windward hip, putting co-helmsmen Spithill and Francesco Bruni in a powerful position after the first tack for a 10 second lead at the first gate.

There was little drama from there on, as the Italians played the smart game keeping a nice cover on the Kiwis “playing the phases,” though keeping their super-fast rocket ship behind them seems to be an increasingly difficult task.

Luna Rossa’s hull was quite unique in its own way, and if it wasn’t for a couple of small mistakes the results could have been quite different. Photo courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget/

Burling kept the heat on eating into the Italians’ lead, but with no changing lanes it was tough, with Luna Rossa winning by 37 seconds to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

“We had our plan and we executed it well at the start. And from there on we had the opportunity to make them pay at the left boundary and we did it,” said Bruni afterwards. “It was tough on the first downwind and I had the feeling they closed up, but we kept it calm, waited for our moments and sailed a really clean race.”

“We were definitely pretty happy with the performance. It would have been nice to come away with a win, and we thought we didn’t do a bad job off the line,” stated Burling. “They got a little too much gauge to the right, and got a nice lee bow tack and did a good job there, making it hard for us to get any shifts and get back into it. And we even had to do a couple of extra maneuvers, which put us too far behind to catch up.”

Day Two, Race Four

ETNZ entered the starting box on the port. They again headed out to the boundary and gybed back as the Italians followed, tacked high as the Kiwis slowed, appearing close to falling off their foils as Spithill went for the hook and failed. Burling accelerated, got his speed up, nailed the time on distance starting ahead and stayed there with the Italians to windward very close on their hip, but couldn’t survive and was forced to tack away giving way to the Kiwis again.

The Italians made just one mistake, which was one too many as they mistimed their foil drop giving up hard-earned real estate that they had no hope of reclaiming as Burling slyly evened the score 2-2, winning by 1 minute and 3 seconds.

“We just got off the line slightly better than Race 3 and managed to get the jump on them,” said Flight Controller Blair Tuke. “The boat is going really well and managed to extend nicely. In the first race we didn’t get much fresh air, but this time it was great to get in front, and it’s a lot easier without the wind shadows, freeing us to look up the course and pick the shifts on our terms, a really good bounce back from the guys.”

“Bad luck, but a good day,” snapped Spithill.

Though Bruni took the brunt and the blame, “I missed the button.”

Day Three, Race Five

Luna Rossa Prada was able to sail slower on their bigger foils and maintain momentum to cross on time, heading out to the favored left-hand side as New Zealand struggled to stay foiling, dropping down, slowing the boat and was late to the line.

They then peeled off to the right, looking for clean air and the chance to make gains. Unfortunately, with the spectator fleet on the right-hand side affecting the light sea breeze, the left-hand side going upwind was the favored side of the course with an extra knot of clear breeze, and the Italians owned it, forcing Burling back to the less favored right-hand side to again pick up the first race of the day for a second day in a row by 18 seconds, but unfortunately, they were unable to capitalize on it, again.

“We obviously just fell off the foils above them and thought we had a little more time to kill in the start box than we did, and so we didn’t manage to take off and get going,” said Burling. “From there they shut the race down pretty well. We fought hard, getting closer at the finish, but they didn’t give us too many options. What we have to do now is try to tidy up that little detail in the start.”

Day Three, Race Six

ETNZ’s “kingmaker” CEO, Grant Dalton. Dalton is the defacto leader of the New Zealand team, and also the event itself. Photo courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget/

Punching out quickly, Te Rehutai looked like they had a straightforward job of staying ahead of the Italians. But the light afternoon sea breeze started to develop significant gaps in it and as we saw in yesterday’s racing, one bad gybe or splashdown in these fickle conditions can be an immediate game changer.

Rounding the first gate with a comfortable lead the Kiwis worked the conditions beautifully, avoiding any holes in the breeze, staying up high and sailing fast, winning by 1 minute and 41 seconds ahead of the Italians.

“We just got caught in a real light spot in the pre-start and we couldn’t get the boat going back to the line,” said Spithill. “It was a bit of a minefield out there especially in the start box, which was unfortunate and then it was too big a jump for us to get back into the race.”

With the score tied again at 3-3, ETNZ’s Glenn Ashby summed up the battle with three words, “The regatta starts tomorrow.”

Day Five, Race Seven

Luna Rossa took the start and rounded the top mark first by 8 seconds, looking to extend, and this they did by 2 seconds, but it was close, and after rounding the bottom gate headed out to the left-hand side of the course. But Ashby and Burling sensed a right-hand shift and they used it. Accelerating with their smaller and flatter jib, they started the fight back and halfway up Te Rehutai lit up the turbos and sailed right over the top of the Italians. Game over basically, as they closed the door repeatedly on Spithill and Bruni to win by 58 seconds.

“Every race is big. We are pleased with our learning,” said Burling. “We almost got them off the start. It was close, then we just kept digging deep and gave ourselves an opportunity. It was great to get a pass and then to extend was pretty pleasing as well.”

Day Five, Race Eight

Every series has a game changer, and this one was it. Featuring some of the biggest moments so far and one of the most astonishing races in America’s Cup history, it was bizarre to say the least!

The Italians got the start then sailed high, forcing ETNZ away to the unfavored right side of the course and stretched it out with their bigger jib as the breeze got lighter. Keeping the lead, disaster hit the Kiwis as halfway down the leg they gybed off the Italians’ exhaust in bad air and then dropped off their foils. Puddle stuck!

The Italians seemingly sailed away at 33 knots, extending their lead to 4 minutes and 8 seconds at the 3rd Gate. Just as it all seemed to go right for Luna Rossa, it went horribly wrong as they tacked high on the course, and in the soft conditions struggled, then dropped off their foils and that was the beginning of the end for Italy, not only in the race, but for the Match as well.

Struggling to build speed in the patchy conditions, Luna Rossa rounded the top gate in displacement mode at 6 knots, then sailed out of the course boundaries receiving multiple penalties for doing so, trying everything they could to accelerate.

Suddenly, it was game on again as Te Rehutai popped back up and tacked back up the course in hot pursuit at 22 knots, knowing full well the risks of one mistake as the conditions softened even further as they sailed past the hapless Italians and reversed the margin by more than 8 minutes on one leg!

With the breeze dropping and the TV execs probably on the phone, the Race Committee shortened the course to five legs as Burling and company used every ounce of skill to connect the “dots” and puffs, ignoring the Italians to stay up on their foils with Te Rehutai’s radical shapely hull just touching the water. In the downwind gybes they managed to stay flying as Burling nailed it, overstanding the lay line to head in fast to cross the line at 29 knots, winning by 3 minutes and 55 seconds.

“We were out in front, but it was never in the bag. We came to the top of the course, it went light, we fell off the foils and were stuck for some time,” said a clearly bummed out Spithill.

“We made a costly error gybing behind them, but we just stuck at it,” said Tuke. “We were on the wrong sized jib, and all the boys went right to the end there, a huge effort from the team. We knew there was a chance they could come off the foils and we just kept on going.”

Day Six, Race Nine

Finally, the event landed on the fan friendly, “stadium” sailing Course C! After a delay in racing waiting for the breeze to stabilize, it was going to be “elbows” out for the Italians who were so close, but yet so far. For every little mistake they have made, the Kiwis have made them pay for it in huge ways, showing no mercy.

Luna Rossa won a crucial start and was first around the first windward gate by the narrowest of margins, just one second as both boats rounded and accelerated downwind at 43 knots with the Italians maintaining a slight lead. But as they rounded the penultimate Gate 5 and tacked to the middle of the course peeling off to look for clear air on the right-hand side of the course, the New Zealanders were able to capitalize from a right-hand wind shift which was the game-changer for Burling and his team.

This allowed Te Rehutai to accelerate into the lead with no turning back. The lead changed hands, as did the fortunes for the Italians. It was simply not what they wanted, as they were headed by the shift and you could hear it in Spithill’s voice.

For New Zealand, this was the opportunity they were looking for and they seized it, rounding the final top gate in front, turning down towards the finish line at 41 knots, quickly extending to win by 30 seconds grabbing what now seemed to be an insurmountable 6-3 lead.

For Spithill, it was another tough moment, with just two words for his crew as he crossed the line. “Sorry boys.”

“Yes, unfortunately, we did let it get away but chin up and keep fighting, as we know we can win races,” said Bruni. “No surprise, we played very elbows out today, particularly at the bottom of Leg 2. They were overlapped behind us and so couldn’t gybe, so we stretched out a little there. It was a fantastic race and no big regrets. No change to the game plan, its about picking the right shifts at the right time.

“It was a pretty tight race, and one little right shift decided it for us. I think we did a good job at the start. It’s good fun racing and great to be back on Course C and having a really good battle with a good team. We will keep fighting and keep trying to win races. This team has been in this position before, and so it’s about keeping improving, keep moving forwards. That race was close, and so we know we are going to have to sail well in the next one.”

“Possibly one of the best races we have seen in the last 15 years of the America’s Cup. The guys did really well controling at the start. We kept them behind for four legs without ever giving up,” said Sirena. “After all, we are in the final against a very strong team, and we are very disappointed with the outcome, but we are still alive and tomorrow we will go on the water to fight and we will give everything. It’s not over yet.”

“It’s a hard one to digest,” said Bruni. “We raced flawlessly until they overtook us. We had to decide whether to defend the left or go right, and in hindsight it probably was the wrong choice. It was very hard to keep them behind. They definitely had an extra gear, because whenever we tried to stretch our lead we couldn’t shake them off and as soon as we gave them some space they just set off.”

Day Seven, Race Ten

With their backs up against the wall Luna Rossa pushed out to an early lead, but unfortunately for the Italians the breeze had shifted massively to the right and ETNZ quickly seized on the opportunity being in the right place at the right time, tacking back on top of Luna Rossa to protect that right-hand side that had rewarded them nicely.

Luna Rossa picked up a small gain out on the left, hooking into a nice shift and gained back most of the deficit, and would dip behind the Kiwi boat. As they crossed, both boats held on their course, swapping sides for the stretch to reach the lay line.

Once again, the shift favored the Kiwis taking the first gate by 8 seconds. Downwind ETNZ extended their lead, though as they came back together in the middle of the course, Luna Rossa had eroded some of that advantage.

Burling didn’t make any effort to cover and Luna Rossa was able to sail away in some good clean breeze and hung in with the Kiwis as they reached the second gate, but again the Italians got slow and were forced to play follow the leader, sailing into ETNZ’s wind shadow forcing them to tack away. All of a sudden what had been a close race was blown apart.

The victorious Kiwi crew would cross the finish line 49 seconds ahead to defend the America’s Cup.

“We went out this morning determined to win two races and confident that we could do so,” said Max Sirena. “The boys on board were incredibly motivated and focused, and it wasn’t easy for them. They started well, but unfortunately right after the start the wind shifted 20 degrees and compromised the first downwind leg, and at that point the rest of the race.

“Obviously, we aren’t’ happy with the final results; after you have won three races in the America’s Cup you start believing that you can do it. We have given our very best every day out on the water,” said Sirena. “I want to thank everyone in Italy who has supported us throughout these incredible nights. I thank Patrizio Bertelli for the opportunity he has given me. These three and a half years have been unforgettable.”

“It’s obviously been a really tough day. We started really well, but the Kiwi boat has an extra edge that didn’t allow us to match them,” said Bruni. “We tried to keep the race very close with a very good first lap, but at the downwind gate we lost the rudder in their bad air. It stalled and at that point we got left behind. It has been an amazing experience, and I think we lost with dignity and honor.”

“It’s not the result that we wanted. We went out there today to try and win a race and to get ourselves back into the competition, but at the end of the day, ETNZ was simply too strong,” said Spithill, clearly feeling the sting of falling short against New Zealand again. “It really did feel, at times, like we were taking a knife into a gun fight. We fought as hard as we could every day, but the Kiwis were simply too strong…

“I still believe that Italy can win the America’s Cup,” continued Spithill. “I’ve got to say, this was definitely a change for me. I mean, in the previous campaigns I had been ten years with the same team, and coming into the Italian team I was really the only non-Italian on the sailing team. And boy what an incredible culture and team of people: so passionate!  I’ve enjoyed every single minute, and it’s definitely been in my career one of the best campaigns, because of the people.”

It was a short-lived, but exciting America’s Cup cycle with a new class of boat that most all hope to see continue. As expected, ETNZ announced that the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has accepted a Notice of Challenge for the 37th America’s Cup (AC37) from the Royal Yacht Squadron Racing, represented by INEOS Team UK, which will act as Challenger of Record for AC37.

“The RNZYS have received and accepted a challenge for the 37th America’s Cup from our long-standing British friends at Royal Yacht Squadron Racing,” said Aaron Young RNZYS Commodore. “It is great to once again have the RYSR involved, given they were the first yacht club that presented this trophy over 170 years ago, which really started the legacy of the America’s Cup. Along with our team, we look forward to working through the details of the next event with them.”

The Challenge letter was signed on March 17, 2021 onboard the yacht Imagine, by Bertie Bicket, chairman of Royal Yacht Squadron Racing. (center) and accepted by Aaron Young, Commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club as ETNZ (left) crossed the finish line to win the America’s Cup for the fourth time with Sir Ben Ainslie on the right. Photo courtesy of Emirates Team New Zealand.

A Protocol Governing AC37 will be published within eight months, including the provisions outlined in this release. It has been agreed that the AC75 Class shall remain the class of yacht for the next two America’s Cup cycles, and agreement to this is a condition of entry. The teams will be restricted to building only one new AC75 for the next event.

A single Event Authority will be appointed to be responsible for the conduct of all racing and the management of commercial activities relating to AC37.

A proposed new crew nationality rule would require 100% of the race crew for each competitor to either be a passport holder of the country of the team’s yacht club as of March 19, 2021 or to have been physically present in that country (or, acting on behalf of such a yacht club in Auckland, the venue of the AC36 Events) for two of the previous three years prior to March 18, 2021. As an exception to this requirement, there will be a discretionary provision allowing a quota of non-nationals on the race crew for competitors from “Emerging Nations.”

There are a number of different options, but it is intended that the Venue for the Match will be determined within six months and the dates of racing announced in the Protocol, if not before.

“The 37th America’s Cup effectively starts the moment the team crossed the finish line,” said ETNZ CEO Grant Dalton. “It is very exciting to have a new CoR to continue to build the scale of the America’s Cup globally. The AC75’s and the unprecedented broadcast reach of the exciting racing from Auckland’s stunning Waitemata Harbour have really put Auckland and the America’s Cup at the forefront of international sport.”

Thanks again to the America’s Cup Media team with their thoughtful contributions to this story. Weigh in at