NOTWITHSTANDING that ACEA's website, the TV commentators and just about everyone else has been saying since Saturday that ORACLE TEAM USA, by winning the Qualifiers, goes into the Match with a bonus point and only, therefore, has to win six races while the Challenger has to win seven, that, Dear Readers, is not the way it will work.
Indeed, that's how the original Protocol posted on the ACEA website reads. But the Protocol has been amended frequently since it was originally issued, and one such amendment was to change the "bonus point" to a "minus point." No, I am not kidding.
The original Protocol states: "...if the winner of the America’s Cup Qualifiers is a Competitor in the Match, it shall start the Match with a score of one (1) point;"
As it turns out, for AC35 there have been a record number of amendments to the Protocol. Many, many more amendments in one Cup cycle than anytime since your Ed. authored the first "Protocol" for the 1992 Cup. On June 29, 2015 alone there were ten amendments.
One of those June 29, 2015 amendments states: "...if the winner of the America’s Cup Qualifiers is a Competitor in the Match, the Competitor that did not win the America’s Cup Qualifiers shall start the Match with a score of minus one (-1) point;”
This is a not a late April Fool's joke.
OTUSA won the Qualifiers last Saturday by beating ETNZ in that pivotal match. OTUSA will be a Competitor in the Match. Therefore, the other Competitor in the Match, the Challenger, will start with a score of minus one point. OTUSA needs to win seven races to win the best-of-13-race Match. The Challenger needs to win eight races to win. Yes, eight.
OK, the rules mavens will tell you it is not seven races that OTUSA must win (or eight for the Challenger) but points. When you get one point per win, so, you ask, what's the difference?
The difference is that during the course of the event the Jury might penalize a team by a point (or more), requiring them to win more races to reach the winning Holy Grail of seven points. Remember the confusion that reigned at the start of AC34 when the Jury penalized OTUSA by the deduction of two points?
So the scoreboard for the AC35 Match now reads:
Defender, Oracle Team USA 0
Challenger, eventual winner of the Playoffs -1
What will they think of next?