The 32nd America's Cup starts now - new scoring system means the Louis Vuitton Acts count towards 2007
The challengers and organisers of the 32nd America’s Cup have reached an agreement on an innovative scoring system that will see points earned in the Louis Vuitton Acts beginning in June 2005 count towards a ‘bonus point’ system for the Louis Vuitton Cup in 2007. This means point scoring for the 32nd America’s Cup starts with the Valencia Louis Vuitton Acts 4 & 5, beginning on the 16 June.
“This system is something completely new for the America’s Cup,” said Michel Bonnefous, CEO of the America’s Cup organisers. “The racing that begins in June in Valencia, and continues through the Louis Vuitton Acts over the next three years, is going to have a real impact.
“In direct collaboration with the challengers, through the Challenger Commission, we have developed a system that will bring real excitement to the racing in all of the Louis Vuitton Acts.”
The 32nd America’s Cup is an event consisting of three distinct phases. To begin, the Louis Vuitton Acts, which began in 2004 and continue through a Fleet Race in 2007, are opening Acts which include all the competitors. Then, following the Fleet Race of Act 14 in 2007, the Louis Vuitton Cup begins. This is the Challenger selection series that determines who will race the Defender, Team Alinghi, in the 32nd America’s Cup Match, the third and final stage of the competition.
Competitors will collect points based upon their finishing position in each of the remaining 10 Louis Vuitton Acts. These points will be used for two purposes.
In the first place, the points will yield an annual ranking, and for 2004, 2005, and 2006, this winner of this ranking will be crowned the Louis Vuitton ACC Champion. Team Alinghi, the Defender, is eligible for this.
Secondly, these annual championship points will be used to rank the challengers. For this, the influence of Alinghi on the results will be removed. These results will then be multiplied by a weighting factor so that the events will be more heavily weighted as time goes by, with each year counting more than the previous. The total of these points, the Ranking Points, gives the Louis Vuitton Ranking.
The challengers will be assigned bonus points based on this ranking that they carry with them into the first Round Robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup. In summary, the challengers who perform better over the next three years will earn more bonus points, but the gap won’t be so big that a team who starts winning in 2007 isn’t able to advance.
“The concept of earning Ranking Points due to your results in the Acts is a big breakthrough for the America’s Cup,” said Tom Ehman, past Chairman of the Challenger Commission and a key figure in devising the system. “It means the Louis Vuitton Acts are real competitions in their own right, with significant rewards for good performance. At the same time, the bonus points awarded will not give a team an insurmountable lead entering the Louis Vuitton Cup. You will still need to win many races in 2007 if you hope to become the Challenger and earn the opportunity of relieving Alinghi of the America’s Cup.”
Louis Vuitton Rank/ Bonus Points
Significantly, the Louis Vuitton Rank will also determine the pairings order and starting line entry side for each of the challengers for the two Round Robins, and will be used for tie-breaking in non-elimination cases.
The competition to select the ultimate Challenger continues with the first part of the Louis Vuitton Cup, a double Round Robin, where each Challenger meets each of the others once per round. A win during the Rounds Robin earns a team two points. Each team races 20 matches. Therefore, during the Round Robin stage the maximum number of points possible is 40 (20 races times 2 points per win) plus a maximum four bonus points carried forward from the Acts. At the end of the two Round Robins the four challengers with the most points proceed to the Semi Finals.
Heading into the Semi Finals, the Challenger with the most points gets to choose which of the other three challengers it will race in its Semi Final series of match races. The winner of each Semi Final is the first team to win five matches.
In turn the winners of the Semi Finals advance to the Louis Vuitton Cup Finals, another first-to-win-five-race series. The winner will then meet Team Alinghi, the Defender, in the 32nd America’s Cup Match beginning on the 23 June. Winning races during the Louis Vuitton Acts and winning the Acts themselves will help give a Challenger an advantageous position in the Louis Vuitton Cup. Being the top-ranked Challenger after the last Act in 2007 gives a clear advantage of one point over the chasing pack, two points (or one race win) over the middle group, and three points over the last four teams, the equivalent to one and a half wins in the Round Robins. Having a high Louis Vuitton Rank is also all-important when it comes to breaking any ties at the end of the Rounds Robin.
Not only are the Louis Vuitton Acts new, and a powerful influence on the outcome of the Challenger Selection Series, but they become more important with each passing year: in 2005 each of the six Louis Vuitton Acts counts for 6.7 per cent of the points making up a challenger’s Louis Vuitton Rank, each of the three 2006 Louis Vuitton Acts counts for 13.3 per cent, and 2007’s sole Act (the Fleet Race) counts for a solid 20 per cent. The ability of the Defender to measure up against the challengers who are fighting their own battles will be more than interesting — especially during the final Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 14 in 2007.
Teams will have their first opportunity to earn Louis Vuitton Ranking Points at the Valencia Louis Vuitton Acts 4&5. The Match Races of Act 4 begin in less than two weeks, on the 16 June.