SAN FRANCISCO (#1058) – The America’s Cup entry deadline passed during the weekend with only the original three challengers being confirmed by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, and not a peep from two other potential challengers. The challenging yacht clubs and their teams are Circolo della vela Sicilia (ITA), the Challenger of Record represented by Patrizio Bertelli's Luna Rossa Challenge; the New York Yacht Club, represented by American Magic; and the Royal Yacht Squadron, represented by Sir Ben Ainslie’s rebranded INEOS Team UK.
The RZNYS is holding out hope that there will be more entries, based on the headline of its news release: “Entries Remain Open While Initial 36th America’s Cup Entry Period Passes.”
A second potential U.S. challenger, led by Mike Buckley, is believed to still be lacking a least one major sponsor. There were reports earlier this year that a second Italian syndicate, the Sardinia Challenge was forming, but it, too, appears to be short of funding – to say nothing of time rapidly running out on any hope of being competitive come 2021.
Teams can still enter up until Nov. 30, but late entries must pony up an additional $1 million, on top of the $2 million regular entry fee (payable in two installments) plus a $1 million performance bond.
On Monday, NYYC's American Magic released its initial roster of 17 sailors. There are no real surprises, other than perhaps that match-racing wiz Taylor Canfield is not on the team. Canfield has been sailing with his US-One Sailing Team, which includes
Buckley, and previously declined to comment on any America’s Cup plans.
American Magic’s roster includes nine Americans and sailors from four other countries. The sailors have a combined 31 America’s Cup campaigns. It is led by four-time Cup sailor Terry Hutchinson (USA), the executive director and CEO, and helmsman Dean Barker (NZL). It also includes current U.S. Olympians Bora Gulari (USA) and Caleb Paine (USA). Paine won the bronze medal in the Finn class at the Rio de Janeiro Games and Gulari sailed in the Nacra 17 class. Both are campaigning for the 2020 Tokyo Games.
“Every personnel decision we make in this campaign will be with a single goal in mind, and that is to win the America’s Cup in 2021. With the support of our 90-strong collection of world-class designers, boatbuilders and staff, our sailors will be capable of accomplishing that goal,” Hutchinson said in a team news release.
The squad also includes former Oracle Team USA crewman Joe Spooner (NZL) and Paul Goodison (GBR), an Olympic gold medalist and three-time world champion in the foiling Moth Class.
American Magic recently announced plans for a facility in Bristol, R.I., to build two AC75s, the high-performance foiling monohulls that will replace in the 2021 Cup the foiling AC50 used in Bermuda for the 2017 America's Cup.
American Magic's initial roster:
Skipper & Executive Director
Dean Barker (NZL)
Andrew Campbell (USA)
Bora Gulari (USA)
Ian Moore (GBR)
Trevor Burd (USA)
Maciel Cicchetti (ARG)
Paul Goodison (GBR)
David Hughes (USA)
Specialists (now there's a new positional name!)
Matt Cassidy (USA)
Sean Clarkson (NZL)
Jim Turner (NZL)
Cooper Dressler (USA)
Luke Muller (USA)
Caleb Paine (USA)
Luke Payne (AUS)
Joe Spooner (NZL)
Notwithstanding that there appears, at this point, to be only four total teams for AC36, Sailing Illustrated's editor Tom Ehman (USA), a veteran in one capacity or another of every Cup since 1980, 12 Cups in total, is optimistic that the next Cup is going to be highly competitive.
"All four teams will be well-funded, and well led," Ehman told me today. "Sir Ben has learned from mistakes made last time, has new management, and a war chest provided by the wealthiest man in the UK. NYYC is hungry and clear-eyed having been out of the Cup for 17 years and now with the backing of at least three billionaires. Their sailing team announced today is experienced and deep. Mr Bertelli is back having sat out the last Cup after Russell Coutts changed the rules mid-stream. He appears to be more committed than ever to winning. It's his sixth AC challenge since 1980, which puts him ahead of Sir Thomas Lipton and his five challenges. He does not want to become the only challenger to lose a record six times. And RNZYS/ETNZ will be formidable. A new defender has always won their first defense except 1987 in Perth. That year there were fully 13 challengers, at least six of which were competitive."