Will the America’s Cup go back to monohulls? The question is left hanging as Luna Rossa is accepted as the next challenger of record, but Grant Dalton promises boats will be 'spectacular'
Italian team Luna Rossa Challenge is confirmed as the challenger of record for the 36th America’s Cup and will help shape the new conditions for the next Cup.
The announcement was made by Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton today within hours of his team winning the Cup. He stated that a challenge had been received by Circolo della Vela Sicilia (CVS) and accepted.
It appears to confirm one of the most widely talked about secrets of Cup circles: that Luna Rossa’s backer, Italian billionaire Patrizio Bertelli, gave Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) design expertise and computer tools, plus $30 million of funding, in 2015 when he pulled out in protest at the change to the AC50 class.
The deal arranged was said to be on condition that, should ETNZ win, Luna Rossa would be challenger of record for the next America’s Cup. And that the next Cup boat would be a monohull.
Dalton left the latter question hanging, merely hinting at more seaworthy designs capable of racing in windier, tidal waters, but he did promise they would be ‘spectacular’.
A big, foiling mono with crew who actually pull ropes? Could be….Dalton gave enough lines to read something between, but refused to be drawn on details of his plan.
New Zealand was the only team among the current crop not to sign the ‘framework agreement’ agreeing to continuing with a foiling catamaran and to running the Cup on two-year cycle. Dalton said the two-yearly programme had been a deal breaker for ETNZ.
This would suggest that the next Cup will not run before 2021.
Hints of a new America’s Cup World Series?
At a post-race press conference, Dalton confirmed: “The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron has received a challenge for the 36th America’s Cup. The RNZYS has accepted that challenge and the CVS has become the challenger of record.
“CVS has designated Luna Rossa Challenge as its team. The 36th America’s Cup will be open to further challengers from foreign nations under conditions to be announced in due course.”
Reading from notes, Dalton then joked: “And then it goes on: ‘Dalts don’t say any more and make a bloody mess of it!'”
Clearly, though, Dalton has considerably more detail in his back pocket, including the design and Cup venue.
He confirmed the next Cup match will take place in New Zealand. He added, however, that Bermuda was ‘perfect’ for racing and said he would like to come back, so we can perhaps assume a series of ‘Acts’ or World Series as well.
And he added: “We do have a plan and it will play out in the next couple of weeks.”
Watch Emirates Team New Zealand’s win the final race and listen to interviews with Peter Burling and Grant Dalton in this video:
ETNZ is known to have had conversations and consultations with World Sailing, the official sailing authority, and Mark Turner, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race, among others, and Dalton alluded to some form of grander concept linked to other avenues of racing.
“The sport needs stability. You’ve got great events – the Vendée Globe, the Volvo Ocean Race, the TP52 circuit – but a lot of it is fragmented. And as the pinnacle, the America’s Cup is the opportunity for us to play our part and to combine the sport with [World Sailing] to bring it all together a bit more.
“Rest assured, we will do the right thing. It’s a privilege to hold the America’s Cup, not a right.”
Traditionally, the ‘right’ thing for the Cup is precisely what the holder decides it is, and based what they can finance and think they can defend.
But it was a point Dalton came back to and he said the formula would not be one designed from the outset to give the defenders an advantage.
“We want to sit down and talk about it with the challenger of record,” he continued.
“We have some ideas, some plans. We want to do the right thing.”
Reading between the lines, it seems as if some fundamental elements that have shaped the current AC50s are to be scrapped, such as requirement for grinders (or cyclors) to produce hydraulic oil.
The fully foiling concept was also put in doubt, despite it being the thing cracked by ETNZ in 2013 and so successfully innovated this time.
“I think it’s important we don’t take away from the yachting aspect of it – it’s still a race of yachtsmen – and I think just pumping oil round the boat isn’t necessarily yachting,” he said. “So we’ve got to balance all those things off, but certainly the boats will be spectacularly fast.
“Whether they [the AC50s] will go so well in a decent north-easterly in Rangi with the tide going out, I’m not so sure – they’d go straight down the mine.”
(At this, he and Peter Burling exchanged a meaningful look and a laugh, as if this was something that had actually happened to them.)
“So maybe they are not right for where we’re headed ultimately. We are on a lagoon here [in Bermuda] and Chicago would have been the next [venue] for Oracle and that’s a lake. So all those considerations have to be thought of.”
Dalton said nothing about a new nationality rule, but the Kiwis’ desire to impose more stringent conditions is an open secret, and is expected when the new format is revealed shortly.