Sir Ben Ainslie's INEOS Team UK has been confirmed as the Challenger of Record for the 37th America’s Cup, with the foiling AC75 class retained for the next two matches

In what might have been the worst kept secret of the current America’s Cup, the British INEOS Team UK has been confirmed this morning, Friday 19th March, as the Challenger of Record for the 37th America’s Cup.

Simultaneous statements issued by INEOS Team UK and Royal Yacht Squadron Racing, and the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand, confirmed that the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron had accepted their Notice of Challenge for the 37th America’s Cup (AC37) and the British team has become the Challenger of Record for AC37.

Known as a ‘hip-pocket’ Challenge, the Challenge letter was signed on 17th March 2021 as Emirates Team New Zealand crossed the finish line to win the America’s Cup for the fourth time. It was offered by Bertie Bicket, Chairman of Royal Yacht Squadron Racing and accepted by Aaron Young, Commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club. The deal was signed aboard Imagine, the 44m Dubois-designed superyacht belonging to Matteo de Nora, Emirates Team New Zealand’s long-term backer.

(R-L) Aaron Young, Commodore of the Royal New Zealand YC, Bertie Bicket, Chairman of Royal Yacht Squadron Racing and Sir Ben Ainslie, Team Prinicipal of INEOS Team UK onboard Imagine

The petro-chemicals company INEOS owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe has also confirmed it will continue to back Sir Ben Ainslie’s team for the next Cup cycle. This will be the first time a British team has competed in three consecutive Cup cycles since Sir Thomas Lipton’s challenges back in 1899 to 1930.

AC75s for 37th and 38th America’s Cup

In their statement Emirates Team New Zealand outlined some additional details for the 37th Cup, including:

  • a Protocol Governing AC37 will be published within eight months including the provisions outlined in this release.
  • it has been agreed the AC75 Class shall remain the class of yacht for the next two America’s Cup cycles, and agreement to this is a condition of entry.
  • teams will be restricted to building only one new AC75 for the next event.
  • a single Event Authority will be appointed to be responsible for the conduct of all racing and the management of commercial activities relating to AC37.
  • a new Crew Nationality Rule will require 100% of the race crew for each competitor to either be a passport holder of the country the team’s yacht club as at 19 March 2021 or to have been physically present in that country (or, acting on behalf of such yacht club in Auckland, the venue of the AC36 Events) for two of the previous three years prior to 18 March 2021 (there will be a discretionary exception to this allowing a quota of non-nationals on the race crew for competitors from “Emerging Nations”).

Photo: ACE / Studio Borlenghi

The Emirates Team New Zealand statement adds: “The Defender and the Challenger of Record, will be investigating and agreeing a meaningful package of campaign cost reduction measures including measures to attract a higher number of Challengers and to assist with the establishment of new teams.

Venue unconfirmed

Despite rumours of racing planned at INEOS Team UK’s home – and the historic home of the first America’s Cup in 1851 – of the Solent and Isle of Wight in the UK, there has not yet been any confirmation of venue. Instead, the statement says ‘it is intended that the Venue for the Match will be determined within six months and the dates of racing announced in the Protocol, if not before.”

However, clearly a return to the event’s birthplace is under discussion. Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton told New Zealand’s 1 NEWS that: “the Isle of Wight is an option for hosting the Cup”.

In the official statement, Dalton said: “The 37th America’s Cup effectively starts the moment the team crossed the finish line on Wednesday afternoon.”

“It is very exciting to have a new Challenger of Record to continue to build the scale of the America’s Cup globally. The AC75’s and the unprecedented broadcast reach of the exciting racing from Auckland’s stunning Waitemata harbour have really put Auckland and the America’s Cup at the forefront of international sport.”

The 36th America’s Cup saw enormous spectator fleets out on the Hauraki Gulf. Photo: ACE / Studio Borlenghi

Sir Ben Ainslie, INEOS Team UK Skipper and Team Principal, said: “INEOS Team UK are committed to working alongside Emirates Team New Zealand and our respective yacht clubs to continue the development of this historic event.

“The introduction of the AC75 class of yacht has proven to be a transformative moment in the history of the America’s Cup and will be the bedrock of a really bright future.”

Aaron Young –RNZYS Commodore, added: “The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron have received and accepted a challenge for the 37th America’s Cup from our long-standing British friends at Royal Yacht Squadron Racing.

“It is great to once again have the RYSR involved, given they were the first yacht club that presented this trophy over 170 years ago, which really started the legacy of the America’s Cup.  Along with Emirates Team New Zealand, we look forward to working through the details of the next event with them.”

If you enjoyed this….

Yachting World is the world’s leading magazine for bluewater cruisers and offshore sailors. Every month we have inspirational adventures and practical features to help you realise your sailing dreams.
Build your knowledge with a subscription delivered to your door. See our latest offers and save at least 30% off the cover price.