SAN FRANCISCO (#1239) – To the surprise of few in the Cup community, the Royal Malta Yacht Club "Altus Challenge" – one of the three late challenges filed on the eve of the 30 November 2018 deadline – has now formally withdrawn, or so one hears from several sources close to that now-defunct team. Confirmation is expected from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron later today (Saturday in New Zealand).
How the Kiwis handle the announcement will be interesting; so, too, will be the reaction from others in NZL, including the New Zealand Tax Payers Union. The Defender, RNZYS and their representative team Emirates Team New Zealand, have been promising New Zealand officials, in Auckland and Wellington, as many as seven teams for AC36. With each passing day it appears there will be only four – the three original challengers, Luna Rossa (ITA/CVG), American Magic (USA/NYYC) and Ineos Team UK (GBR/RYS), and the Defender.
We are in regular contact with the leadership of the two other late entries, DutchSail led by Simeon Tienpont (NED), and the Long Beach Yacht Club's Stars+Stripes Team USA.
Today Mr Tienpont declined to comment to your Ed. on their status, but one hears Simeon has largely turned his attentions to The Ocean Race 2021 (formerly the VOR).
S+S has been without a CEO for many weeks. Justin Shaffer (USA) stepped down after laying off much of the management, along with the boat-building team in Holland, MI, to preserve cash to settle remaining payables. Co-founders Mike Buckley (USA) and Taylor Canfield (USA/USVI) have soldiered on in an attempt to keep their all-American effort afloat, with the continuing moral, if not naive, support of LBYC.
Join us for tomorrow's (Friday) TFE LIVE when we will have details of the Altus Challenge withdrawal and other AC36 news, including tidbits from Terry Hutchinson's talk at St Francis Yacht Club's Wednesday Yachting Luncheon yesterday. "T Hutch" is Executive Director and Skipper of New York Yacht Club's American Magic. (You can watch a replay of his hour-long talk, live-streamed by Sailing Illustrated, here; it's already had over 1700 views.)
On Friday our TFE LIVE special guest, via Skype from Auckland, will be Dr. Hamish Ross (NZL). Hamish is an esteemed America's Cup counsel and historian who, until this week, was legal counsel to the Altus Challenge.
As always we go live at 1300 Pacific / 1600 Eastern / 2000 UTC / 0800+1 NZT on our Sailing Illustrated Facebook Page. If you can't join us live, a replay is available there afterwards.
Dr. Hamish Ross (NZL, doctorate in law) has served as a rules advisor to and general counsel for various America's Cup teams since 2000, and the AC34 race management operation ("ACRM") in San Francisco led by Iain Murray (AUS) in 2013. Hamish will be my special guest via Skype on Friday's TFE LIVE.