AC FANS will recall the two years (2015-16) of the Louis Vuitton World Series sailed in AC45s, often farcical fleet racing in light air (or worse). Under the complicated – some say perverse – AC35 format and scoring system, the winner of World Series goes into the round robin racing, the so-called "Qualifiers" that begin Friday, with two points. The World Series runner-up begins with one point. Remember who won the World Series? Land Rover BAR. The runner-up was ORACLE TEAM USA.
So here's the leaderboard for the Qualifiers as it now stands, before racing begins....
GBR - 2 points
USA - 1
FRA, JPN, NZL, SWE - 0
The Qualifiers is a double round robin, meaning each of the six teams races the other five teams twice. Ten races, one point per win, with a maximum of ten points available for each team from the round-robin racing.
At the end of the Qualifiers a week from Saturday, OTUSA is done racing until the AC Match (to which they advance automatically as the Defender), and the Challenger with the fewest points goes home. If there is a tie for last place among the Challengers, it is broken in favor of the team that finished higher in the World Series.
The remaining four challengers advance to the "Playoffs" – two concurrent semi-final pairings, with the winners advancing to a Playoff finals and the losers going home. The winner of the Playoff final advances to the AC Match against OTUSA, and, of course, the loser goes home. The Playoffs (semis and finals) are best-of-nine (first-to-win-five).
One more wrinkle that gives added importance to the the round robin racing that begins Friday – if the winner of the Qualifiers is OTUSA, or is a Challenger that then advances through the Playoffs to the AC Match, they will start the AC Match with one point bonus.
Hence, the winner of the AC Match will be the first team to "earn" seven points, not necessarily the first to win seven races. Yes, you got that right – if one of the teams starts the AC Match with a bonus point, they only have to win six races, while the other team has to win seven.
Paging Herr Professor Doktor Einstein, who by all accounts loved to sail. Indeed, it is widely reported that as a 50th birthday present his friends gave him a sailboat. Too bad he's not available to explain the AC35 scoring system. But then maybe it's all relative.