SCUTTLEBUTT EXTRA - March 4, 2003
CHANGES TO THE AMERICA'S CUP PROTOCOL
(Following are excerpts from a story in the New Zealand Herald about the
changes to the America's Cup Protocol announced by the Alinghi Syndicate.)
The America's Cup will undergo key changes when it is held in Europe for
the first time, probably in 2007.
Alinghi executive director and skipper Russell Coutts said the most
significant innovation was that the whole regatta would be managed by one
organisation. Until now, the challengers' series and the cup match have
essentially been separate events.
Other changes included introducing an independent race management committee
and race director, which until now have been appointed by the host club,
and scrapping the nationality rules.
The protocol is agreed before each America's Cup between the defending club
and the first club to issue a challenge. In this case, it was the San
Francisco-based Golden Gate Yacht Club, represented by Oracle BMW Racing,
who issued a challenge shortly after Alinghi clinched the trophy on Sunday.
Alinghi and Oracle are both backed by billionaires -- Ernesto Bertarelli
and Larry Ellison respectively.
Coutts said one aim of the changes was to promote a competitive regatta for
all competitors. Another was to encourage the worldwide growth of the
America's Cup. "We haven't gone and changed everything," he said. "But we
have allowed for some innovations that we think are going to make this an
even better event."
The regatta venue would be in Europe and would be announced before December
15. "Ideally we want to find a venue that has consistent weather conditions
so we can plan for live television," Coutts said. "We can plan a schedule
of races much the same as many other sporting events." Coutts said his
personal vision was to create something similar to Auckland's Viaduct
Harbour, but also have the crowd on land close enough to experience the
action on the water.
He said the class of yacht would remain the same, although there could be
subtle amendments to allow them to race in a greater wind range. Another
change would allow a syndicate that purchased an old boat to buy its
performance information as well.
As well, old technical information up to and including the just-competed
cup regatta could be sold until October 2004. "New teams will be able to
come in on a more level platform," Coutts said. "They are not necessarily
starting from so far behind some of the existing teams that it is very
difficult for them to catch up."
The race course would continue to have a windward-leeward configuration,
but the race committee would have more flexibility in determining its
length, again taking television into account.
The entry fee would be €450,000 ($876,300), with a bond of €1 million. The
entry fee last time was US$325,000 ($585,600) with a bond of US$1 million.
Coutts said he hoped there would be up to 20 competitive challengers.
Fellow Alinghi executive director Michel Bonnefous said the nationality
rule, requiring people to live in a particular country, was being scrapped
to save syndicates money. "The teams have spent an enormous amount of money
[on this]," he said. "We decided to avoid the cost next time and cancel the
A series of annual regattas were being planned as a lead-up, beginning in
San Francisco later this year, with the rest in Europe. The lead-up events,
which will culminate in a fleet race, including the defenders, at the cup
venue early in 2007, would help to determine seedings for the challengers'
series. - New Zealand Herald, full story:
The Protocol document is available on the Alinghi website in the news