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The 170-year-old America’s Cup is global sailing’s Sacred Mystery. To be most true to itself, it should be raced in boats - or more accurately sailing machines - that are about as different as possible from the craft used by most sailors as they go about their more normal and largely unpublicised activities on the water.

In contrast to that normality, the America’s Cup is ultimately totally reliant on very high levels of publicity to fuel the enormous resources of commercial sponsorship – much of it for brands at the luxury end of the international spectrum – which are needed to keep the show on the road and fund the contending teams as they advance the technology, while also hiring the best international sailing superstars within a time-frame which enables them to qualify for a somewhat convoluted nationality and residential time frame.

The publication this week of the Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup in 2024 moves the “Saga of the Auld Mug” into another chapter. It’s a joint production by defenders Emirates Team New Zealand and their club the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron of Auckland, and the Challengers of Record, INEOS Britannia of Royal Yacht Squadron Ltd, otherwise known as RYSL.

The New York Yacht Club’s giant Reliance, successful defender in 1903, was arguably the first extreme boat in the America’s Cup history. Designed and built by Nat Herreshoff for just one season’s use, she used metals in electrolytic conflict such that it’s said she sizzled when put afloat, and leaked at an increasing pace as the programme progressed. After her successful defence, she was taken over by the US Navy to observe and monitor the continuing electrolytic degradation, and then broken up before she was a year old.The New York Yacht Club’s giant Reliance, successful defender in 1903, was arguably the first extreme boat in the America’s Cup history. Designed and built by Nat Herreshoff for just one season’s use, she used metals in electrolytic conflict such that it’s said she sizzled when put afloat, and leaked at an increasing pace as the programme progressed. After her successful defence, she was taken over by the US Navy to observe and monitor the continuing electrolytic degradation, and then broken up before she was a year old.

For traditionalists, it may seem slightly odd that one of the world’s most historic yacht clubs has lent its name to a run-of-the-mill limited liability company. Royal Yacht Squadron Ltd carries the vague whiff of a brass plate outside a solicitor’s office in an obscure street in Southampton rather than an historic waterfront castle in Cowes. And indeed Hamish Ross, the Auckland-based America’s Cup law expert, has suggested it may be invalid, as the original Deed of Gift stipulated that the challenge should be between the yacht clubs of different nations, and the use of a limited liability company – whatever its name - was not envisaged.

But all that seems to have been blown away this week, with a theme of the Protocol being the wish to make the America’s Cup “more inclusive”, as Ben Ainslie of INEOS Britannia put it, while Grant Dalton of defenders Team New Zealand talks of their desire to limit costs by allowing each team just one AC75 boat – the boat type is going to be used for at least the next two stagings of the cup - while sharing a certain amount of research info, incorporating some one-design features, making do with a crew of eight instead of 11, and planning to create basic boats which will cost only 60 million US dollars apiece….

Maybe so, but as Dalton admits, there’s no upper limit on expenditure, and on past experience he’s expecting that any British, Swiss and Italian challenges – to name but three - will effectively be operating on an open-ended budget. However, the scope of the event is going to be extended to include a women’s series and a youth challenge using the AC 40s. This will lengthen the period over which the 37th America’s Cup is held some time between January and September 2024, making even greater demands on the expectation of prolonged quality sailing weather at the chosen venue.

Charlie Barr (1864-1911). One of the most effective America’s Cup skippers, he commanded three successful defenders for the New York Yacht Club. In doing so, he anticipated the theme of “nationality fluidity”, as he was born in Gourock in Scotland, but his sailing career came to life when he moved to the US in 1885.Charlie Barr (1864-1911). One of the most effective America’s Cup skippers, he commanded three successful defenders for the New York Yacht Club. In doing so, he anticipated the theme of “nationality fluidity”, as he was born in Gourock in Scotland, but his sailing career came to life when he moved to the US in 1885.

In keeping with the inescapable and essential mood of the times, there’s a new emphasis on environmental compatibility, and a high profile will be given to the fact that the official chase boats will be hydrogen-powered. This may see a very small item in the bigger picture, but those boats buzzing efficiently yet cleanly around will be seen on screen by tens of millions worldwide, and their presence will offset the images of the huge carbon footprint of building just one AC75.


Ireland’s own Damian Foxall has recently broadened his environmental portfolio by taking on the role of Sustainability Manager for Charlie Enright’s 11th Hour Racing, which is currently working - among other projects in marine environmental activity - towards the most sustainable possible Vendee Globe campaign.

Damian Foxall has revealed the carbon imprint of the advanced construction of today’s IMOCA 6s and AC 75sDamian Foxall has revealed the carbon imprint of the advanced construction of today’s IMOCA 6s and AC 75s

And in typical style, Damian – who has spoken in favour of the America’s Cup coming to Ireland - crisply makes the point that building just one Vendee Globe IMOCA 60 creates as much carbon as building 105 – that’s one hundred and five - Renault cars. We can be quite sure that building the more complex AC75 has an even bigger footprint, so anything that can be done to alleviate the situation, or at least change perceptions of it, is all to the good for America’s Cup enthusiasts, as the reality is that talk of making it more inclusive and accessible doesn’t really bear examination.

For the fact is that the America’s Cup is elitist in both the most base and yet also the purest sense of the word. Supporters may indeed share in the performance achievements of their favoured crews and sailors, but beyond that it’s like suggesting that Usain Bolt fans have personally run the greatest hundred metres ever.

Admittedly at another level there is a genuine meaning to this, which the ancient Greek philosophers carried to such a height that they argued that the appreciative and knowledgeable spectator of athletics was actually morally and intellectually superior to the athletes themselves.

But with sailing being so totally a wind-powered vehicle sport, there’s an extra barrier between the usually few enough spectators and the performers, and it’s further heightened by the AC crew being anonymously clad in Formula 1-style car-racing kit. So the America’s Cup is essentially elitist and remote, for if it weren’t it would be a waste of time, and that’s all there is to it. It’s top-drawer stuff. 


Thus the staging of it has become one very difficult, demanding and expensive proposition. But if it weren’t for the fact that Ireland has become involved in the venue selection process, it would be hugely entertaining to observe all this wheeler-dealing. However, with Cork apparently still in the potential lineup despite the absence of any likely Irish team, it has become a minefield for anyone in Irish sailing who dares to question the wisdom of spending tens of millions of euros of taxpayers money in developing the sort of shore base facility at the former Verolme Dockyard at Rushbrook in Cork Harbour which the 37th America’s Cup advocates suggest is essential.

Down Cork way within the sailing community, pariah status awaits anyone who doubts the good sense of Cork going hell-for-leather with high-profile public money in pursuit of this America’s Cup Venue status. It takes the greatest Leeside verbal dexterity to side-step stating clearly whether you’re for or against……

America’s Cup crew in action off Auckland, March 2021. The AC75’s need to have crews in crash helmets and protective clothing has increased the empathy gap between spectators and athletes.America’s Cup crew in action off Auckland, March 2021. The AC75’s need to have crews in crash helmets and protective clothing has increased the empathy gap between spectators and athletes.

But in the rest of the country’s sailing world, a sceptical viewpoint can just about survive, even if the debate about cost-effectiveness is blurred by the fact that the most recent figures from the 36th staging is Auckland must be adversely affected by the global pandemic battle.

Nevertheless, last weekend’s detailed Sunday Independent enquiry into the topic by Hugh O’Connell revealed – through use of the Freedom of Information Act - just how far back and how deeply the Irish manoeuvring behind the scenes had been and was still going on, with the analysis of released emails and other sources.

But while the relevant politicians and leading civil servants are specifically named, also involved is someone only referred to as “an Irish citizen”, who clearly played a significant role in getting Ireland on the inside track in this summer and autumn’s “one nation bidding war”, which resulted in publicly-stated demands from Grant Dalton of defenders New Zealand that Ireland should commit within six weeks.

Something very special….Grant Dalton with the America’s CupSomething very special….Grant Dalton with the America’s Cup 

Now with the protocol we see that the decision day for venue selection has been pushed way back to March 31st 2022, which suggests we’re getting into murky water. Or maybe it was rather murky water to begin with, for although most people in Irish sailing could make an educated guess as to who this “Irish citizen” is, it’s significant that Ireland’s largest newspaper stops short of naming the individual in question.

Yet there are alternative ways in which the transformation of Rushbrooke Dockyard could be funded without leaning unduly on the Irish taxpayer. For instance, there would be no better way of projecting the entrepreneurial image of Cork than a local movement to get it done through Munster funding.

Equally, the boundless resources of the might INEOS conglomerate are such that, in order to comply with the apparent need to have a non-British venue, they could simply take over the entire Rushbrook complex lock stock and barrel, re-develop it for multi-team America’s Cup use, and then after two or three stagings of the Cup (the number would probably be dependent on how well our quirky weather proves compatible with America’s Cup requirements), they sell up and move on.

Ripe for development…..the former Verolme Dockyard on Cork Harbour near Cobh.Ripe for development…..the former Verolme Dockyard on Cork Harbour near Cobh.

Whatever happens, it will all add to the special and sometimes scary America’s Cup mystique. That said, we can only hope that the good people living around Cork harbour appreciate that this is contemporary capitalism and consumerism at its reddest in tooth and claw.

Yesterday (Friday’s) American Scuttlebutt included this salutary quote, attributed to a local but un-named Facebook page:

Maybe nice guys can’t win the America’s Cup

Published on November 18th, 2021

It is hard to imagine Sir Ben Ainslie, the most successful sailor in Olympic history, an A-lister at social gatherings and elbow-rubber with royalty, losing the love of Great Britain. Good looking, well-spoken, and in hot pursuit to bring the America’s Cup home, he does seem to be losing traction at home.

A glimpse of Ainslie’s’ fiery side was seen at the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships when he jumped out of his Finn and boarded a media boat to confront the crew before swimming back to his boat and sailing away. He was disqualified from the final races, and was nearly banned from the sport prior to the London 2012 Olympics.

After helping the USA win the 2013 America’s Cup, he launched a campaign for his country, embracing an environmental and educational platform in support of sponsors and the crown. However, it was a new team, and it made new team mistakes, failing to develop a boat capable of winning the 2017 America’s Cup.

Ainslie was ready to put the lessons to get use, but needed a bigger war chest. A chance meeting in Bermuda with Sir Jim Ratcliffe, the second richest British billionaire courtesy of his chemical company, launched a new partnership. The sailor exchanged his righteous sponsors for Ratcliffe’s INEOS, a company that’s no friend of the environment, in pursuit of the 2021 America’s Cup.

In 2015, Ainslie had set up his operations in Portsmouth, a port city on England’s south coast. The government had committed significant taxpayer money to assist the development of the team headquarters, relocating businesses to make space for the team’s buildings and facilities.

Thanks and good-bye – it’s “That Building” on the Portsmouth waterfront. Thanks and good-bye – it’s “That Building” on the Portsmouth waterfront. 

It was deemed “a fantastic investment” by politicians, but with the results from 2021 falling short again, Ainslie and Ratcliffe are upping the effort, and that has the locals in Portsmouth screaming foul as the team is leaving the city.

Ainslie’s INEOS Britannia is now based nearly 100 miles to the north in Brackley with Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 as Ratcliffe owns a third of the F1 team and is leveraging that asset to win the Auld Mug. However, the announcement of the move has solicited a strong reaction from a local media Facebook post about the team’s departure:

Leslie Harris: “I don’t think he ever intended to stay long, that building is an eyesore.”

Tina Pink: “Another waste of tax payer’s money, should be made to pay it back!”

Rob Watkins: “Hopefully he’s taking the monstrosity of a building away with him that’s destroyed residents views!”

Other readers have added what they think should be done with the building now it is no longer being used by the team.

Rob Emery: “Knock it down and erect buildings more in keeping with the area, or use it to house the Royal Marine and other maritime museums.”

Paul Henty: “He has used the city, so if he has left who does the building belong to and whose money built it? He should definitely not profit from it, if it reverts back to the council it should be used for youth club/outward bound groups.”

Paul Threadingham: “What a waste of money which could have been spent on other areas in Portsmouth for the people of Portsmouth, not a bunch of spoilt rich boys.”
No venue has yet been set for the America’s Cup and Sir Ben is now being forced to pay £110,000-a-year rent for The Camber after pulling the sailing team from the base in June this year.

The rent is now due as a clause in the contract brings to an end the rent-free period if the building is not being mainly used for the America’s Cup.

Published in W M Nixon
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The Protocol of the 37th America’s Cup was released today by the Defender, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand and the Challenger of Record - Royal Yacht Squadron Ltd and their representative team INEOS Britannia, eight months to the day after Emirates Team New Zealand successfully defended the America’s Cup.

The Protocol sets the foundations and rules of participation for all teams in the 37th America’s Cup and records the items of mutual consent under the America’s Cup Deed of Gift agreed between the Defender and the Challenger of Record which establishes the basis for a multi challenger event.

Defender Emirates Team New Zealand’s CEO Grant Dalton said: “As we saw with AC36, after 170 years, as the oldest trophy in international sport, the America’s Cup maintains its unique position of balancing the traditions of the Deed of Gift while continuing to push the boundaries of innovation, technology and design in the boats, the event, the broadcast and the commercial aspects of the event.

Maintaining this balance is the ongoing challenge and responsibility of the Defender and Challenger of Record as we aim to progress into the 37th edition of the America’s Cup in the ever-changing environment and demands of global sports as well as a determination to drive sustainability through innovation via hydrogen technology for the marine sector which we both believe is reflected in this Protocol.”

INEOS Britannia CEO and Team Principal Sir Ben Ainslie said: “As Challenger of Record, INEOS Britannia has sought with the Defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, to make the next America’s Cup less expensive and more inclusive. The Protocol this time around will see reduced team operating costs without compromising any of the technical development which the Cup is so famous for. There is an opportunity for change, so for AC37 we will see the first Women’s America’s Cup Regatta and we also welcome back the Youth America’s Cup.”

Challenger of Record, INEOS BritanniaChallenger of Record, INEOS Britannia

Defender, Emirates Team New ZealandDefender, Emirates Team New Zealand

An updated ‘Version 2’ of the AC75 Class Rule has been released from the last America’s Cup which specifies the latest requirements to be compliant with the class rule including modification requirements for new teams buying ‘Version 1 AC75’s’ that were built and used by teams competing in AC36.

Cost reduction has been a key consideration as part of the balance in the development of the AC37 Protocol including:

  • Teams are only permitted to build one new AC75.
    • Limitations on the quantity of foils and componentry that can be built for the AC75’s.
    • Introduction of the multipurpose One Design AC40 class which teams will be able to convert and use for testing, component development and Match Race training.
    • AC40 class will then be converted back to the measured One Design AC40 class for use in the exciting new America’s Cup Women’s Regatta and America’s Cup Youth events. These events have been developed to create new accelerated inclusive pathways into the America’s Cup for the growing global talent pool of female and youth sailors.
    • Race crew onboard the AC75 reduced from 11 to 8 sailors.
    • Further One design elements.
    • Shared team recon.
    • Supplied starting software.
    • The AC75 class of boat will be maintained for the next two events.

The shared recon programme whilst reducing costs, is also aimed to give America’s Cup fans the inside track on the testing and development on the water by all the teams. The observations will be made public via AC media channels so that fans can stay up to date with the latest developments as they emerge from the sheds throughout the whole of AC37.

With a view to opening the doors and the continued drive to increase the global audience of the America’s Cup and the sport of sailing, a condition of entry to competitors is they agree to be part of a potential behind-the-scenes documentary series. The intention of this is to bring the secrecy, the drama and all the teams’ personalities into the limelight.

There will be up to three Preliminary Regattas, the first two raced in AC40s, the last one at the Match venue in AC75s. The Challenger Selection Series and the America’s Cup Match will be held in 2024, with the Match Venue and approximate event dates to be announced by 31st March 2022.

AC40 renderAbove and below: AC40 render

AC40 render

The Protocol outlines restrictions on when the AC75’s can be sailed. With the anticipated benefit angled towards new Challengers to AC37, existing teams are not permitted to sail their AC75s’ before the 17th September 2022, however new Challengers entering AC37 that have purchased a second hand AC75 are permitted to sail their AC75 for 20 days from 17th June 2022. There are other restricted sailing periods which are provisional and will be confirmed once the Match venue is announced.

The Crew Nationality Rule will require 100% of the race crew for each competitor to either be a passport holder of the country of the team’s yacht club as of 17th 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 18 months of the previous three years prior to 17th March 2021. As an exception to this requirement, there will be a discretionary provision allowing a quota of non-nationals on the race crew for competitors from ‘Emerging Nations.’

As part of the ongoing drive for innovation and new clean technology in the America’s Cup, it is now a mandated obligation of all teams to build and operate two hydrogen powered foiling chase boats for their campaign (subject to proof of concept). It’s hoped showcasing proven hydrogen technology in the marine sector will help create a game-changing pathway for the wider industry and lead to a significant reduction in its carbon footprint. These boats must be a minimum of 10 metres long and the usage and performance criteria is set out in the Protocol.

“A significant proportion of teams carbon footprints is in their on-water operations, through their long days of testing, development and training,” said Grant Dalton.

“So for the past year we have been researching, designing and are now building a prototype hydrogen-powered foiling chase boat which will have a dramatic effect on the reduction of the team's carbon footprints, as well as pushing the development of hydrogen in the marine sector.”

(Above and below) Hydrogen Chase Boat (Above and below) Hydrogen Chase Boat

Race Management will be entirely independent of the event organisation and will be led by the Regatta Director. The umpires and jury that will manage all on the water rules and disputes for all events.

  • The independent Rules and Measurement Committees will be responsible for interpretation of the AC75 Class Rule and the yacht measurement.
  • A three-person Arbitration Panel will oversee and deal with all Protocol disputes with published decisions to maintain the integrity of the event. And there will be a new fast-track process to reduce the potential delays in making decisions on disputed items.

AARON YOUNG: Commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron

“A lot of work has gone into the AC37 Protocol and we extend our thanks and gratitude to Emirates Team New Zealand and the Challenger of Record - the Royal Yacht Squadron and INEOS Britannia - for their hard work and commitment to an exciting 37th America’s Cup.

Clearly the 36th America’s Cup was hugely successful despite the difficulties and huge restrictions due to dealing with the Covid 19 pandemic in New Zealand and globally. But as custodians of the America’s Cup along with Emirates Team New Zealand, it is our responsibility to keep building the event for the good of the America’s Cup, and the sport.

We especially welcome the inclusion of both the Youth and Women’s America’s Cup as part of the protocol and event, and believe these are important developments that will increase participation and inclusion within the America’s Cup going forward. We are also pleased to keep pushing the boundaries of innovation, technology, sustainability, participation, broadcast and the commercial aspects of the event. And so we think we have taken a good step forward in that respect.

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will continue to support Team New Zealand as they fulfil their role in the planning, funding and delivery of this AC37 campaign and event.“

ROBERT M. BICKET: Chairman of Royal Yacht Squadron Ltd

“We are delighted with the result of this positive collaboration between the Defender and the Challenger of Record which has resulted in a truly progressive protocol for the 37th America’s Cup designed to promote fair competition and sustainability. Furthermore, we believe that the cost reduction measures and introduction of a women’s and youth event provide new and exciting opportunities within our sport.“

AC 37 Key datesAC 37 Key dates

Key dates:

17th November 2021: AC37 Protocol and AC75 Class Rule V2 Published.
1st December 2021: Entries for Challengers Open.

31st March 2022: Defender to announce Match Venue and approximate event dates.
17th June 2022: New competitors may sail Version 1 AC75’s for 20 sailing days.
31st July 2022: Entry Period Closes.
17th September 2022: Competitors may sail an AC75 Yacht.
30th November 2022: ACE to announce race schedule for the Match.
30th November 2022: ACE to announce racing area for CSS and Match.
31st December 2022: ACE to publish Brand Manual.

31st May 2023: Final cut off for late Challenger entries.
30th June 2023: ACE to publish Youth and Women’s AC Agreement.
30th June 2023: COR/D to publish Match Conditions.
30th November 2023: COR/D to publish CSS Conditions.

Published in America's Cup
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The long-awaited Protocol for the staging of the 37th America’s Cup Series is finally due to be published in Auckland, New Zealand next Wednesday (November 17th).

But meanwhile, a Cork Harbour interest in staging the event has attracted considerable attention at home and abroad, and today’s Sunday Independent features a fascinating in-depth analysis by Hugh O’Connell of the AC activity at the top level behind the scenes as seen from a non-sailing and essentially political point of view.

Check out the full story here (subscription required)

Published in America's Cup
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Would Tom Kneen's JPK 11.80 Sunrise have still won the Rolex Fastnet Race 2021 if it had been sailed on the old course, with Plymouth rather than Cherbourg as the finish? Imponderable it may be, but it's a question of renewed interest as the row rumbles on about the in-race shortening of the recent Rolex Middle Sea Race 2021.

This course shortening was done in view of a developing northeasterly storm which soon made the harbour-mouth finish dangerously impossible for smaller boats still at sea. But as everyone is now well aware, it meant that Sunrise – already finished and in port along with two-thirds of the fleet – had to make do with second overall, after looking for a while as though she was about to achieve the magnificent double of Fastnet and Middle Sea overall victories in one season, achieved with such style that it would all have been done and dusted within the space of three months.

But the unhappy outcome instead caused an almighty row, and some of us sought shelter in trying to analyse it from a different point of view. The affable but very keen and obviously extremely effective Tom Kneen is a loyal member of the Royal Western Yacht Club in Plymouth, and he happily admitted that in the RORC members' poll about the change to the Fastnet course, he had voted in favour of the traditional finish in Plymouth rather than race the extra 90 miles to a new big-scale welcome in Cherbourg.

The traditional Fastnet finish at Plymouth and the 2021 version with the finish at Cherbourg. It's possible that the extra 90 miles to Cherbourg gave the Plymouth-base Sunrise her overall win.The traditional Fastnet finish at Plymouth and the 2021 version with the finish at Cherbourg. It's possible that the extra 90 miles to Cherbourg gave the Plymouth-base Sunrise her overall win.

Ironically, it may well be that the extra 90 miles "imposition" gave Sunrise her clearcut win. She had been reasonably well-placed but not winning at earlier stages, thus it was the lengthened final stage after the Bishop Rock and up the middle of the English Channel in a private breeze – a feat repeated with almost equal success by Ronan O Siochru's Desert Star from Dun Laoghaire – which saw Sunrise get so clearly into the Glitter Zone.

But having been given a portal to overall success by the long-planned extension of the Fastnet Race, Sunrise then found the door to a Middle Sea repeat slammed shut in her face by the sudden imposition of a course shortening. Some may raise their eyes to heaven and say: "The Lord Giveth, the Lord Taketh Away". But the more grounded have raised – not for the first time – the question of whether well-meaning amateurs should have ultimate control of the running of any major event in which the combined long-term expense of involvement by a huge fleet – whether amateur or professional – is a figure running into tens and probably hundreds of millions of euro.

The crew of Sunrise celebrating what looked like becoming a remarkable double at their finish of the Middle Sea Race 2021 in Malta. Photo: North SailsThe crew of Sunrise celebrating what looked like becoming a remarkable double at their finish of the Middle Sea Race 2021 in Malta. Photo: North Sails

Instinctively, many of us will incline to the support of the enthusiastic amateurs. But the harsher judges will quote Damon Runyon who, on enquiring about the activities of one of his Manhattan acquaintances, was told that: "He is doing the best he can", to which Runyon responded that he found this to be a very over-crowded profession.


The voluntary race administrators in the Royal Malta Yacht Club came in for huge flak and this week issued what is in effect a mea culpa and a promise to do better in future. But it's going to rumble on like the Palme volcano for some time yet, and just yesterday Peter Ryan, the Chairman of ISORA, suggested they should now declare two sets of results as though they'd been running two races of different lengths in parallel all along, which if nothing else would lead to dancing in the streets in the Silversmiths' Quarter in Valetta.

And there have been suggestions that the RORC "should consider its position in relation to the Middle Sea Race", which is polite-speak for saying that the RORC should at least think about withdrawing its active support from what is essentially the Royal Malta YC's premier event. But nothing happens in a vacuum, and people making this extreme proposal are failing to take note that there's a turf war (ridiculous to have a turf war at sea, but there you are) going on between the ORC and the IRC measurement systems.

One of the starts from the harbour in the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2021. The wind was already from the northeast, and a severe storm – which caused fatalities in nearby Sicily – made the harbour entrance extremely dangerous by the time the smaller boats were finishing.One of the starts from the harbour in the Rolex Middle Sea Race 2021. The wind was already from the northeast, and a severe storm – which caused fatalities in nearby Sicily – made the harbour entrance extremely dangerous by the time the smaller boats were finishing.

The IRC is very much identified with the RORC, while the ORC has its own setup. And even as quiet territorial expansions are taking place on various fronts with new events emanating from both camps - the interesting Finnish-connected RORC race in the Baltic is one example – a proposed marriage between the World Championships of both systems appears to have resulted in the IRC being left stranded at the altar without a word of explanation.

In this febrile atmosphere, were the RORC to dump on the Royal Malta, it's always possible that the ORC's organisation might step into the breach, for the Middle Sea Race now has a momentum and vitality of its own, and it will happen each year regardless of politicking ashore.

A public spat online was inevitable, and in time we'll be persuaded that it has cleared the air, for that's the way these things happen even if various waters are temporarily muddied. But in global sailing, however big the row, it will only have been in the ha'penny place by comparison with the controversies which are now in the DNA of the America's Cup, which has been a joy and delight for m'learned friends ever since the original hand-written Deed of Gift – inkily scratched on parchment in 1857 – went on to become a Protocol in 1882 which was then revised in 1887.


In Ireland, we may well be suffering from Protocol Fatigue these days, but regardless of our feelings, the long-awaited Protocol for the next staging of the America's Cup – AC37 – will be revealed on Wednesday, November 17th by defenders Team New Zealand and the Challenger of Record, Royal Yacht Squadron Racing Ltd.

Doubtless, there'll be many bumps in the road between now and then, just as there have been bumps to the point of chasms in getting to where they are now. It's an uneven progress, with the professional/amateur divide still involved to such an extent that when the New York Yacht Club recently announced that they were "passing" on direct club participation this time around, in a subsequent statement the New Zealanders described the NYYC Commodore as a "Corinthian".

The New York Yacht Club's summer base of Harbour Court, Rhode Island. The Kiwi's description of the Commodore as "Corinthian" did not quite seem to have the usual complimentary intent.The New York Yacht Club's summer base of Harbour Court, Rhode Island. The Kiwi's description of the Commodore as "Corinthian" did not quite seem to have the usual complimentary intent.

This is normally a term of approval, but there was a distinct feeling that approval was not the intention in this case. In addition to the increasingly complex legalities, it made things personal, and that is not a good place to be in a situation like this.

But then this "situation" has become a world of its own. So much so, in fact, that the America's Cup legalities have provided the makings of its own department in the University of Auckland, and it has already graduated its own PhD in the shape of Dr Hamish Ross, who published his latest findings this week. You've probably read it already, but even so, it's a good browse for a November Saturday morning:


In eleven days' time, the Protocol for the 37th America's Cup is due to be revealed, eight months after Royal Yacht Squadron Racing Limited filed a notice challenge under the Deed of Gift.

What can we expect and what is likely to be left unanswered?

Sources close to the Defender indicate that the all-important venue selection is yet to be made and may not be announced until as late as March 2022. This will not be welcome news to the Challenger of Record, who will be getting impatient. It has a right to fall back onto the Deed default match terms if relations become strained, which will likely result in a commercial black hole.

Given the selected venue may impact the yacht to be raced, publication of the Class Rule may be similarly delayed, although it was at least agreed last March, that it would be in the AC75 class used in Auckland. There are always refinements to be made. If there is a meaningful push towards costs savings, as has been announced, look for more supplied or common design elements in the same way as the foil systems were supplied for AC36 in Auckland.

Unfortunately, the Deed requirement that the competing yachts must be "constructed in the country" of the respective competing yacht clubs puts the brakes on what could be achieved. In the past, this requirement has sometimes been interpreted rather liberally focusing on the hull, but many would agree that the Deed probably only requires an assembly of components, which can be sourced from anywhere, to create a yacht.
The "construction in-country" term of the Deed has never been fully tested in a court or jury, although the issue was on the table at the end of the 2010 match. Expect sailing restrictions and launch dates to remain to limit the advantages of well-funded competitors.

Dr Hamish Ross took his PhD at Auckland University in America's Cup law.Dr Hamish Ross took his PhD at Auckland University in America's Cup law.

Commercial rights will likely largely remain as they have been since Valencia 2007. Will there be a profit-sharing mechanism between competitors as in 2007 and 2013, if there is a financial surplus? It would seem a major venue financial windfall would be unlikely in the current economic climate.

Timing of the match, and the preceding challenger series may be difficult to fix without a venue having been decided. Don't expect to see firm dates yet. The Deed has hemisphere restrictions limiting the times when a match can be held in each hemisphere. There are seasonal weather and oceanographic factors to be considered at any venue.

Additionally, there is the timing of other events to consider. Few would want to take on a head-on commercial and media clash with the Olympics or the Football World Cup, which traditionally sucks out a lot of sports fan eyeballs and commercial sponsorship from the sports sponsorship market.

A profitable venture – the America's Cup 2007 at Valencia. Ireland's Marcus Hutchinson was on the management team, and the event showed a profit.A profitable venture – the America's Cup 2007 at Valencia. Ireland's Marcus Hutchinson was on the management team, and the event showed a profit.

What other events will be held before the start of the challenger series? Expect a warmup regatta or two. There may be a concessionary warm-up regatta in Auckland on the table to try to calm local waters. But these regattas all cost money, a loss of valuable time and never raise enough money for them to be self-funding when an effort is said to be made to reduce costs.

More chance they will be held in the selected venue than holding a global circuit like Sail GP. A defender will always want an opportunity to check-in against the challengers before the match to try and limit any surprises. Expect Sail GP to actively look into holding an event or two in Auckland during the America's Cup match, if Auckland is not the selected venue!

What will prospective challengers be looking for? When will they see the Class Rule? How long will they have to design, build and test a yacht? How much of a design head start have the Defender and the Challenger of Record given themselves? What will it cost them to compete? Can they hire the design, boatbuilding and sailing talent needed?

This will put the nationality rule into sharp focus– can they get approvals from the Defender as an "emerging nation"? Where will it be held? Don't expect billionaires to line up for an unattractive venue with security risks. What advertising space on the yacht do they have to sell to their sponsors and what space will be taken by the event and in what product categories? Will Prada or Louis Vuitton return as a sponsor? Above all, is there a chance to win or is it simply too stacked up against us?

Expect entry fees to remain the same or increase. US$3,350,000 plus a bond of US$1m was the cheapest entry last time. Expect the challenges to again contribute towards the costs of the challenger selection series unless a sponsor agrees to fund it as did Prada last time.

Finally, who gets to amend the Protocol and the Class Rules? Can anyone competitor block a change? Will there be a tyranny of the majority or simply a Defender and Challenger of Record dictatorship?
Drafting a Protocol involves a delicate balance of many issues both sporting and commercial. Get it wrong and it could be 2007-2010 all over again. Nail it, and it will be back to the big America's Cup heydays of Fremantle 1986-87 or Valencia 2007.


For the top end of the international sailing world, the next ten days will be extremely interesting, as we can only guess at the global wheeling and dealing and drafting going on behind the scenes. And when the AC37 Protocol is published, we can be quite sure there'll be controversy, which is meat and drink to the communications industry in all its forms.

In fact, controversy is the gift that just keeps on giving. For even after you've agreed a settlement on whatever is causing the current high profile controversy, you can then go on to have a controversy about how the word "controversy" should be properly pronounced… 

Published in W M Nixon

Valencia has withdrawn from the race to host the 37th America's Cup - but Spain is still very much in it according to the latest reports from the New Zealand Herald

International yachting sources have confirmed that a second Spanish bid is being made, dampening some of the rumours doing the rounds in sailing circles that the Saudis are at the front of the queue with a big-money bid to hold the regatta in Jeddah.

Team New Zealand's announcement of the new one-design AC40 yacht that will help expand pathways into the main event, particularly for women, also contained a largely overlooked line. It said the 37th America's Cup will be a multi-challenger event - effectively closing the door on the proposed one-on-one challenge at Cowes between Team NZ and Ineos Team UK.

So Spain (probably Barcelona), Cork Harbour and Jeddah remain potential venues, one of whom is likely to be named on Friday.

Much more in the New Zealand Herald here.

Published in America's Cup
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It was discussed in the Seanad on Wednesday the fifth of March in 2003…..

Senator Joe O'Toole, a teacher by profession was an Independent Senator, served as General Secretary of the National Teachers Organisation and President of the Congress of Trade Unions… and came from Dingle...

So, he suggested to another Kerryman, then Sports Minister John O'Donogue, that Dingle would be a good base for the Cup to be sailed… It had just been concluded in Auckland, won by Switzerland… It would bring a billion to the west…. marinas in Cahirciveen, Fenit and Kilrush and, of course, Dingle, Would support it, he said.

The America's Cup didn't come to Dingle … The Minister for Sport at the time wasn't rushing to secure it, as I remember covering that story for RTE….

Now I'm tired of being asked to support various campaigns underway to get the AC for Cork and tired too of being described as a "begrudger" when I raise questions about it and also tired of being called "elitist" when defending sailing.

I believe in sailing as a "sport for all" ….. I don't like sailing being described as "elitist" and that is increasing – arising from the AC proposal.

Supporters of the 'AC for Cork' haven't acknowledged 2024 also as an Olympics Year in Paris…. Should the America's Cup, in which no Irish team is likely to be taking part because it couldn't be afforded, get many millions of taxpayer-funded Euros when there is still not enough State support for Irish sailors taking part in the Olympics?

Which would be of more benefit to the sport?

Pointing to the Round the World Race in Galway overlooks that, while big crowds attended the 'festival' around the event --- and there was an Irish boat involved…. it left unpaid bills behind for a while and that caused some resentment ….

Ireland's brigantine Asgard II at the Australian 200th celebrationsIreland's brigantine Asgard II at the Australian 200th celebrations

So, what about the photo of Asgard printed here, which in the past week appeared on social media, posted by the well-known, renowned Gerry Burns…

Asgard at the Australian 200th celebrations – "a great ambassador for Ireland" – the value of teaching hundreds of young people from all sectors of life the wide value of sailing ….and never given enough dedicated State support by the Department of Defence whose responsibility it was and with a Minister, Willie O'Dea, who wouldn't give the insurance compensation money for its sinking to replace it….

If there are millions available for a maritime event, why wouldn't it be put into leisure maritime development around the Irish coast?

The Tall Ships Races brought crowds and economic benefits to Cork, Dublin and Waterford, where there were three Irish tall ships taking part… now we have none actively sailing… so much for the continued support of sailing…

The AC has become a big commercial business, where money dictates more than sailing….. where the attempt seems to be to bulldoze Ireland into taking on a massive cost in a short timeframe … and helping to pay for the New Zealand defence which, if Team New Zealand can't find a location, could end up in another AC legal wrangle…

The America's Cup has become a big commercial businessThe America's Cup has become a big commercial business

If there are millions available for a maritime event, why wouldn't it be put into leisure maritime development around the Irish coast – more public marine leisure facilities, marinas, which might bring many more visitors, more regularly or club development to encourage more public involvement and rid sailing of that 'elitist' tag…..

When the government of the leading sailing nation in the world won't give the AC organisation in its own country the amount of money they want to hold the event in Auckland, I wonder who may end up being mugs for the elite of the AC? 

Published in Tom MacSweeney
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INEOS Britannia, representing Royal Yacht Squadron Ltd the Challenger of Record for the 37th America's Cup, has announced its core team live from Brackley, home of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team.

INEOS Britannia's design team will bring together the best of America's Cup and Formula 1, with James Allison as technical lead of the British America's Cup challenge in his capacity as Chief Technical Officer of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and INEOS Britannia.

Team Principal Ben Ainslie will skipper INEOS Britannia, the first British Challenger to compete for three consecutive America's Cups since Sir Thomas Lipton's challenges in the early 20th century.

Backing the team again is INEOS and INEOS' Chairman and Founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe, who previously supported the team's 36th America's Cup challenge. Being part of the INEOS Sport group means access to a wider sporting family which includes the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, the INEOS Grenadiers cycling team, the All Blacks, and football clubs OGC Nice and FC Lausanne-Sport.

As part of this high-performance group, the British America's Cup team has come together with Mercedes-AMG F1 Applied Science, a division of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team, to form INEOS Britannia, bringing together the best of the worlds of high-performance marine and automotive engineering, with the goal to win the America's Cup for Britain.

Published in America's Cup
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Ireland is in a far strong negotiating position over the America's Cup than it may realise, and should set clear conditions if it is going to host the event, according to international sail racing project manager Marcus Hutchinson.

It is also “unfair” to ask a country like Ireland to invest in an event that Team New Zealand wants to run in 2024, the same year as the Paris Olympic Games.

Not only is the timeline too short for preparation, but the return for investment would be affected by the Games, he says.

Hutchinson has worked on five America's Cup events during his career, and has been coach and mentor for major solo ocean racing campaigns including the Figaro and Vendée Globe.

America's Cup racing in New Zealand - Minister Simon Coveney has said that a successful bid to host the America’s Cup yacht race would establish Ireland as a “leader of the blue economy within the EUAmerica's Cup racing in New Zealand - Minister Simon Coveney has said that a successful bid to host the America’s Cup yacht race would establish Ireland as a “leader of the blue economy" within the EU

He also believes no country should be expected to agree to host the America's Cup without seeing the protocol or “notice of racing” which has not yet been published.

The Americas Cup is a great opportunity for Ireland, he said, but he agrees with the decision by Minister for Tourism and Sport Catherine Martin to seek a due diligence review.

In his first public comment on Ireland’s bid, he outlined his views to Afloat's Wavelengths – stressing he is not involved in the bid or any of the negotiations.

Published in Wavelength Podcast
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Let's face it, Ireland bidding to host the 37th America's Cup in 2024 – or more accurately, Cork's campaigning to stage it – has all the makings of a handy TV drama. As it has to be a national investment, yet with its focus at a tightly regional level, it bears out the old cliché that all politics is ultimately local, and local in Ireland always has its own special dynamic. Other requirements for consideration for streaming success include:

  • Seemingly unimaginable sums of money involved? You got it.
  • An ultra-advanced and highly specialized version of a sport developing technically in such as way that, like Formula 1, it is already light years away from the sport as enjoyed by most of its adherents? Check.
  • Confusion of national identity in that we may be "providing the use of the hall", but there probably won't be an Irish team involved? Almost certainly true.
  • Continuing battle between comfortably settled residents who quite like the harbour as it is, versus brash incomers with plans for CHANGE, CHANGE, CHANGE in the name of progress? Right on target.
  • Larger-than-life characters who could easily be imagined wearing an oversize stetson if they're not doing so already? For sure. Organise those exclusive luxury suites immediately.

All that is of course only one angle. A very valid case can be made with equal or even greater strength for the investment of between €150 and €200 million in the necessary waterfront infrastructure. For let's face it, we may have referred to "unimaginable sums of money" above, but two hundred million snots is only a blip by comparison with the billions of euros the nation had to pour down the pipe from 2009 onwards to keep the banks afloat.

But on the other hand, if the money goes into giving the Rushbrooke shipyard an attractive recreational, marine services and hospitality aspect, it will still have other applications available to it after the America's Cup fandango has moved on.

A sail-training tall ship heads seaward past the Verolme Cork dockyard at Rushbrooke west of Cobh in the yard's final year of operation. Photo: Robert BatemanA sail-training tall ship heads seaward past the Verolme Cork dockyard at Rushbrooke west of Cobh in the yard's final year of operation. Photo: Robert Bateman

Admittedly at mid-week the prospects looked utterly dead. But Thursday night's announcement that Kiwi petro-magnate Mark Dunphy had hurled himself into the boiling pot with an offer to organise the funding to keep the show in Auckland has now brought up to four the number of supposedly interested parties that are considering the hosting in an ongoing drama in which our friends in Cork find themselves being pushed towards being the Preferred Bidder, with the alleged "lifeline" of an extra six weeks being provided to prolong the negotiating agony.

The Irish diaspora is at it again…..New Zealand business magnate Mark Dunphy reckons he can raise the funds to keep the America's Cup racing in Auckland. At one stage in his career, he worked with Michael Fay, another "Kiwi-Irish" business whizz who was much involved in America's Cup campaigning.The Irish diaspora is at it again…..New Zealand business magnate Mark Dunphy reckons he can raise the funds to keep the America's Cup racing in Auckland. At one stage in his career, he worked with Michael Fay, another "Kiwi-Irish" business whizz who was much involved in America's Cup campaigning.

Yet up above in Dublin, the powers-that-be (or at least the powers that would like to be, but sometimes you'd wonder) are indicating the need for a six month assessment period, and a marked reluctance to get involved at all in a glitter show for which the political optics are seriously foggy in every constituency in the country except perhaps South Cork, and we can't even be too sure about that.

For the man in the street in Carrigaline might have different views from those on the marinas downriver at Crosshaven. But regardless of their location, each one has a vote when an election comes around. And as those advocating a sail training ship for Ireland ever since Noah decommissioned The Ark have very painfully discovered in trying to persuade local coastal politicians round to their point of view, there are few if any votes in sail training, even in port towns. Thus we only acquired the brigantine Asgard II because there were two decidedly colourful pro-sailing autocrats – Paddy Donegan and Charlie Haughey – in power during the time of her building.

So in the current febrile political mood (is it ever anything else?), most TDs will be looking over their shoulders and wondering how many votes might be found in an America's Cup spectacle in and off Cork Harbour. It won't take the latest product from one of those Cork computer factories to come up with the answer, for the occasional think-pieces on the subject in national newspapers have revealed such a total ignorance of the America's Cup among the Irish general public, and the opinion makers who serve them, that it might do no harm to do a little scene setting.

A-yachting we will go… was serial challenger Thomas Lipton who coined the phrase "The Auld Mug" for the America's Cup as he developed its commercial attraction.A-yachting we will go… was serial challenger Thomas Lipton who coined the phrase "The Auld Mug" for the America's Cup as he developed its commercial attraction.

First raced for on the Friday of Cowes Week 1851 in a challenge round the Isle of Wight - a race which was something of an afterthought to the two main sailing events of the week - the trophy is a quintessentially Victorian silver ewer worth a relatively modest £100 at the time. The additional race for this new trophy was laid on to provide a fleet contest for the New York schooner America, which had sailed across the Atlantic as a sort of associate item for the Great Exhibition in London that year, but was then found to be ineligible under various club rules for the main races of Cowes Week.

But that one race - unfashionably sailed on the Friday when the cream of English society would already have departed Cowes to be on one of their vast estates for the weekend - was enough for the stylish America to prove her worth, and the silver ewer returned to New York, becoming in time the America's Cup, the world's oldest international sporting trophy.

It didn't take too long for its publicity value to become clear in an era when popular stadium and arena sports were still at an early stage of development, and this was most evident in the attitude of a serial challenger, mega-grocer Thomas Lipton of Glasgow, who proudly displayed his Irish ancestry from Monaghan by using the name Shamrock for his five challengers through the Royal Ulster Yacht Club between 1899 and 1930.

All of his challenges against the Americans with Shamrock I, II, III, IV and V were unsuccessful. But Lipton found that provided he could be a sporting and gallant loser, it generated friendly publicity to boost the growth of his business empire's American offshoot, so he became the very embodiment of geniality, and made millions.

That said, another aspect of Lipton was revealed in 1908, when he had his own private racing yacht, the 23 Metre known just as plain Shamrock, and built for racing in British regattas during a hiatus in America's Cup challenges. It's said that if this private Shamrock performed conspicuously badly in a race, the persona of the genial Glasgow grocer was quickly replaced – albeit briefly – by one very grumpy owner.

America's Cup contenders come to Dublin Bay in 1901? This is a mystery photo, origins unknown. According to a note with it, this is Lipton's Fife-designed Shamrock I – his challenger of 1899 – on left, being used as training-horse for his Watson-designed Shamrock II (challenger in 1901) at a regatta in Dublin Bay. Informed comments welcome……America's Cup contenders come to Dublin Bay in 1901? This is a mystery photo, origins unknown. According to a note with it, this is Lipton's Fife-designed Shamrock I – his challenger of 1899 – on left, being used as training-horse for his Watson-designed Shamrock II (challenger in 1901) at a regatta in Dublin Bay. Informed comments welcome……

But when the America's Cup campaigning was resumed in 1914 with the advanced-design Shamrock IV, but then postponed to 1920 because of World War I delaying yet another ultimately unsuccessful campaign, the sporting loser persona reasserted its profitable self, though Lipton was also heard sadly wondering if he would ever win "The Auld Mug".

For many, it has been The Auld Mug ever since. But in the present kerfuffle over whether or not Ireland should continue to go hammer and tongs in pursuit of an opportunity to host the modern America's Cup racing spectacle in Cork in 2024, it's difficult to resist thinking that in some ways we have been making Auld Mugs of ourselves over the whole business for the last six months or so.

Personally, I don't remotely agree with the assertion that this is the third biggest sporting event on the planet, but it's a pretty big deal nevertheless. And as a country with a longer sailing history than most – including direct connections with eight America's Cup challenges out of the 36 made it surely behoved us to be interested as the contest was floated as a business proposition on the more-or-less open market by a New Zealand entity.

But the America's Cup in the 21st Century has become one very potentially explosive combination involving - so we're told - at least €200 million in initial Government investment in infrastructure in the greater Cork Harbour area, though it might be all for an anticipated return of maybe €500 million if the promised four teams (and preferably more) turn up and the world then watches.

In doing so we'd be trying to follow an impressive New Zealand organisational performance which transformed parts of the Auckland waterfront. But then the Auckland area is one of the greatest sailing locations in the world, and while Cork Harbour is impressive by European standards, it doesn't offer the multiple sailing options which can be found in Auckland.

It took the staging of the America's Cup at Auckland to make the world fully aware the unrivalled range of sailing options available at The City of SailsIt took the staging of the America's Cup at Auckland to make the world fully aware the unrivalled range of sailing options available at The City of Sails

Then too, as a new city, Auckland presents an impressive high rise front to the sea – or at least it's impressive if high rise and acres of glass is your thing. But Cork is just so very much older than Auckland, and its main 19th-century harbour waterfront at Cobh is so deeply ingrained in the national consciousness – and indeed, in the global consciousness thanks to its links with the Titanic– that any attempt to update it would be regarded as sacrilege, while a modern waterfront mini-city of glass towers just around the corner at the proposed America's Cup centre in the former Verolme Cork dockyard might be a very challenging proposition to get past local opinion.

However, the modern America's Cup series is a much more complex affair than the straightforward match racing which Lipton's crews would have experienced. By the time the best series of all took place in 1987 off Perth in Western Australia, with Dennis Conner in his prime taking the trophy back from the Australians in truly magnificent sport in 12 Metres as glimpsed below (***k your foils, THIS is yacht racing) 

the "associated events" aspect was developing, and if Cork do secure it, just one staging of the series might be as much as a two-year largely Cork-based project for the teams involved.

History lives – Cobh's characterful waterfrontHistory lives – Cobh's characterful waterfront.

With a time-span like that, there'll be all sorts of junior and open-to-the-public happenings, and doubtless that beloved phrase "Fun For All The Family" will get one of its many airings. But with this new involvement of Mark Dunphy (Irish of course, will the diaspora ever leave us alone?) the paranoid might well think that the Irish are just the auld mugs being used to up the ante in a higher-stakes game.

We shall see. And were it any sport other than our beloved sailing, it would be hugely entertaining. But either way, when it's a game of big business, national and international politics, huge sums of money, and utterly ruthless "sporting" competition, not everyone can hope to be a winner in whatever capacity they may be involved. So all those putting their heads above the parapet would do well to remember the cynics' version of the great sportswriter Grantland Rice's originally idealistic bit of verse:

For when the one Great Scorer comes,
To write against your name;
He writes not that you won or lost.
But how you spread the blame.

Published in W M Nixon

A statement issued tonight by the 37th America’s Cup (AC37) selection committee of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) together with Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) says it intends to extend the timeline for its venue selection. It's a development that opens the door again for the Cork Harbour bid that appeared dead in the water just 24 hours ago.

The full statement reads: 

Following a very close 37th America’s Cup (AC37) Host Venue selection process consisting of three compelling and professional international proposals, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) together with Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ), announced today that they are extending the selection period for the shortlisted offshore venues to continue to work through final details and provide further information required for their respective bids.

Opposed to a rushed decision

RNZYS Commodore Aaron Young said: “For the benefit of both the 37th America’s Cup and the eventual host venue, we would rather allow some more time now so we make the right decision as opposed to a rushed decision.”

ETNZ and RNZYS believe it is both prudent and responsible to extend the deadline in which the offshore venues can continue to progress negotiations after Covid lockdown in New Zealand has made it impossible for ETNZ team members to visit the venues. It was originally planned to carry out essential face to face meetings and to provide final team feedback to act on Origin Sports Group’s recommendations.

Grant Dalton, CEO of ETNZGrant Dalton, CEO of ETNZ

ETNZ and RNZYS have had to balance the need for further time to ensure they accept a bid that is in the best interests of the America’s Cup event with the need for Challengers to know the final venue as soon as practicable.

Maintain the event in Auckland

Furthermore, on Wednesday morning, ETNZ and RNZYS received a letter from Mark Dunphy regarding the viability of his funding to maintain the event in Auckland. This extension of the process will also allow Mr Dunphy further time to answer the questions we have already put to him over the past month.

Grant Dalton, CEO of ETNZ, commented:

“The fundamental fact is that we have a number of outstanding potential venues literally going down to the wire and all of them with strong and competitive bids on the table and firmly committed to completing agreements in the coming weeks – that’s a good place to be in for sure. It’s frustrating not to have been able to close our agreement with a Host Venue by the planned date of 17 September as previously proposed but we are now giving ourselves more time to work through the final details of the respective venues as the current COVID situation in New Zealand has made the process more difficult.

As we have always maintained throughout, however unlikely it seemed, Auckland has never been off the table for obvious reasons. So now that we finally have an 11th hour letter from Mr Dunphy, it would be remiss of us not to explore the viability of an Auckland event and if it in fact can be fully and completely funded locally. To date there has been no evidence of this being the case.”

The search for the AC37 Host Venue was started back in May 2020 by Origin Sports Group but was paused for an exclusive three-month period from March 17th, during which the New Zealand Government had the exclusive right to negotiate AC37 being held in New Zealand and continued once this period lapsed.

Published in America's Cup
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Ireland's Offshore Renewable Energy

Because of Ireland's location at the Atlantic edge of the EU, it has more offshore energy potential than most other countries in Europe. The conditions are suitable for the development of the full range of current offshore renewable energy technologies.

Offshore Renewable Energy FAQs

Offshore renewable energy draws on the natural energy provided by wind, wave and tide to convert it into electricity for industry and domestic consumption.

Offshore wind is the most advanced technology, using fixed wind turbines in coastal areas, while floating wind is a developing technology more suited to deeper water. In 2018, offshore wind provided a tiny fraction of global electricity supply, but it is set to expand strongly in the coming decades into a USD 1 trillion business, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It says that turbines are growing in size and in power capacity, which in turn is "delivering major performance and cost improvements for offshore wind farms".

The global offshore wind market grew nearly 30% per year between 2010 and 2018, according to the IEA, due to rapid technology improvements, It calculated that about 150 new offshore wind projects are in active development around the world. Europe in particular has fostered the technology's development, led by Britain, Germany and Denmark, but China added more capacity than any other country in 2018.

A report for the Irish Wind Energy Assocation (IWEA) by the Carbon Trust – a British government-backed limited company established to accelerate Britain's move to a low carbon economy - says there are currently 14 fixed-bottom wind energy projects, four floating wind projects and one project that has yet to choose a technology at some stage of development in Irish waters. Some of these projects are aiming to build before 2030 to contribute to the 5GW target set by the Irish government, and others are expected to build after 2030. These projects have to secure planning permission, obtain a grid connection and also be successful in a competitive auction in the Renewable Electricity Support Scheme (RESS).

The electricity generated by each turbine is collected by an offshore electricity substation located within the wind farm. Seabed cables connect the offshore substation to an onshore substation on the coast. These cables transport the electricity to land from where it will be used to power homes, farms and businesses around Ireland. The offshore developer works with EirGrid, which operates the national grid, to identify how best to do this and where exactly on the grid the project should connect.

The new Marine Planning and Development Management Bill will create a new streamlined system for planning permission for activity or infrastructure in Irish waters or on the seabed, including offshore wind farms. It is due to be published before the end of 2020 and enacted in 2021.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE.

There are a number of companies aiming to develop offshore wind energy off the Irish coast and some of the larger ones would be ESB, SSE Renewables, Energia, Statkraft and RWE. Is there scope for community involvement in offshore wind? The IWEA says that from the early stages of a project, the wind farm developer "should be engaging with the local community to inform them about the project, answer their questions and listen to their concerns". It says this provides the community with "the opportunity to work with the developer to help shape the final layout and design of the project". Listening to fishing industry concerns, and how fishermen may be affected by survey works, construction and eventual operation of a project is "of particular concern to developers", the IWEA says. It says there will also be a community benefit fund put in place for each project. It says the final details of this will be addressed in the design of the RESS (see below) for offshore wind but it has the potential to be "tens of millions of euro over the 15 years of the RESS contract". The Government is also considering the possibility that communities will be enabled to invest in offshore wind farms though there is "no clarity yet on how this would work", the IWEA says.

Based on current plans, it would amount to around 12 GW of offshore wind energy. However, the IWEA points out that is unlikely that all of the projects planned will be completed. The industry says there is even more significant potential for floating offshore wind off Ireland's west coast and the Programme for Government contains a commitment to develop a long-term plan for at least 30 GW of floating offshore wind in our deeper waters.

There are many different models of turbines. The larger a turbine, the more efficient it is in producing electricity at a good price. In choosing a turbine model the developer will be conscious of this ,but also has to be aware the impact of the turbine on the environment, marine life, biodiversity and visual impact. As a broad rule an offshore wind turbine will have a tip-height of between 165m and 215m tall. However, turbine technology is evolving at a rapid rate with larger more efficient turbines anticipated on the market in the coming years.


The Renewable Electricity Support Scheme is designed to support the development of renewable energy projects in Ireland. Under the scheme wind farms and solar farms compete against each other in an auction with the projects which offer power at the lowest price awarded contracts. These contracts provide them with a guaranteed price for their power for 15 years. If they obtain a better price for their electricity on the wholesale market they must return the difference to the consumer.

Yes. The first auction for offshore renewable energy projects is expected to take place in late 2021.

Cost is one difference, and technology is another. Floating wind farm technology is relatively new, but allows use of deeper water. Ireland's 50-metre contour line is the limit for traditional bottom-fixed wind farms, and it is also very close to population centres, which makes visibility of large turbines an issue - hence the attraction of floating structures Do offshore wind farms pose a navigational hazard to shipping? Inshore fishermen do have valid concerns. One of the first steps in identifying a site as a potential location for an offshore wind farm is to identify and assess the level of existing marine activity in the area and this particularly includes shipping. The National Marine Planning Framework aims to create, for the first time, a plan to balance the various kinds of offshore activity with the protection of the Irish marine environment. This is expected to be published before the end of 2020, and will set out clearly where is suitable for offshore renewable energy development and where it is not - due, for example, to shipping movements and safe navigation.

YEnvironmental organisations are concerned about the impact of turbines on bird populations, particularly migrating birds. A Danish scientific study published in 2019 found evidence that larger birds were tending to avoid turbine blades, but said it didn't have sufficient evidence for smaller birds – and cautioned that the cumulative effect of farms could still have an impact on bird movements. A full environmental impact assessment has to be carried out before a developer can apply for planning permission to develop an offshore wind farm. This would include desk-based studies as well as extensive surveys of the population and movements of birds and marine mammals, as well as fish and seabed habitats. If a potential environmental impact is identified the developer must, as part of the planning application, show how the project will be designed in such a way as to avoid the impact or to mitigate against it.

A typical 500 MW offshore wind farm would require an operations and maintenance base which would be on the nearby coast. Such a project would generally create between 80-100 fulltime jobs, according to the IWEA. There would also be a substantial increase to in-direct employment and associated socio-economic benefit to the surrounding area where the operation and maintenance hub is located.

The recent Carbon Trust report for the IWEA, entitled Harnessing our potential, identified significant skills shortages for offshore wind in Ireland across the areas of engineering financial services and logistics. The IWEA says that as Ireland is a relatively new entrant to the offshore wind market, there are "opportunities to develop and implement strategies to address the skills shortages for delivering offshore wind and for Ireland to be a net exporter of human capital and skills to the highly competitive global offshore wind supply chain". Offshore wind requires a diverse workforce with jobs in both transferable (for example from the oil and gas sector) and specialist disciplines across apprenticeships and higher education. IWEA have a training network called the Green Tech Skillnet that facilitates training and networking opportunities in the renewable energy sector.

It is expected that developing the 3.5 GW of offshore wind energy identified in the Government's Climate Action Plan would create around 2,500 jobs in construction and development and around 700 permanent operations and maintenance jobs. The Programme for Government published in 2020 has an enhanced target of 5 GW of offshore wind which would create even more employment. The industry says that in the initial stages, the development of offshore wind energy would create employment in conducting environmental surveys, community engagement and development applications for planning. As a site moves to construction, people with backgrounds in various types of engineering, marine construction and marine transport would be recruited. Once the site is up and running , a project requires a team of turbine technicians, engineers and administrators to ensure the wind farm is fully and properly maintained, as well as crew for the crew transfer vessels transporting workers from shore to the turbines.

The IEA says that today's offshore wind market "doesn't even come close to tapping the full potential – with high-quality resources available in most major markets". It estimates that offshore wind has the potential to generate more than 420 000 Terawatt hours per year (TWh/yr) worldwide – as in more than 18 times the current global electricity demand. One Terawatt is 114 megawatts, and to put it in context, Scotland it has a population a little over 5 million and requires 25 TWh/yr of electrical energy.

Not as advanced as wind, with anchoring a big challenge – given that the most effective wave energy has to be in the most energetic locations, such as the Irish west coast. Britain, Ireland and Portugal are regarded as most advanced in developing wave energy technology. The prize is significant, the industry says, as there are forecasts that varying between 4000TWh/yr to 29500TWh/yr. Europe consumes around 3000TWh/year.

The industry has two main umbrella organisations – the Irish Wind Energy Association, which represents both onshore and offshore wind, and the Marine Renewables Industry Association, which focuses on all types of renewable in the marine environment.

©Afloat 2020

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