Friday 7 May 2010

America's Cup: 34th Edition Re-energised by unprecedented collaboration between Defender and Challengers

by Tim Jeffery and Lorenza Priamo

* New, fair rules and independent professional management will give an equal opportunity to all teams

* A new class of fast, exciting boats created in conjunction with all teams

* The 159 year old competition made irresistible to commercial partners with regular racing in multiple venues under professional, neutral race management

* Transformed television and online coverage will place fans right at the heart of the action, wherever they are in the world

This was the message today at the first press conference of the 34th America's Cup, which saw the trophy brought to the home city of the Challenger of Record, the Club Nautico di Roma.

Speaking in the Sala Exedra in Rome's Musei Capitolini, surrounded by some of Rome's most precious treasures, Rissell Coutts representing the defending Golden Gate Yacht Club and Vincenzo Onorato on behalf of the Challenger of Record mapped out the future of the America's Cup.

The press conference webcast was streamed live around the world.

Discussion & debate; consultation & collaboration

"Diktat has been replaced by discussion, confrontation by consultation," said Coutts, four time winner of the iconic competition.

"Our minds and our ears are open. We are receptive to ideas."

The opportunity to shape the rules and the design of the new boat has been offered to potential teams.

The management of the on-the-water racing will be controlled by an independent, neutral and professional authority, not the Defender.

New Protocol rules

Yesterday teams received the Protocol used in the 32nd America's Cup Match and were asked: "What would you change to make the competition better?"

This document was negotiated by the Golden Gate Yacht Club and produced the successful 2007 America's Cup. Feedback fom the team will be used to shape a new Protocol for the 34th Match.

The wide-ranging reforms would not have been possible without the other teams - who will be the Defender´'s rivals when racing gets under way.

In particular Coutts noted the unprecedented collaboration between the Challenger of Record and the Defender: "The task would have been impossible without working in partnership with Vincenzo Onorato."

Onorato was given the honour of revealing the key decision date targets on behalf of the entire America's Cup community.

Key Dates Announced

* Protocol for the 34th America's Cup will be issued by 31st August
* Design rule released by 30th September
* Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions published by 31st December
* Venue confirmed by 31st December
* Challenge period open from 1st October - 31st January 2011

New thinking on television

A bow-to-stern re-think of the entire television and media output is already under way.

Not only will fans be able to turn-on and tune-in, anytime, on any platform, but they will be made to feel as if they are on-board themselves, right at the heart of the action, alongside the best sailors in the world.

New boat - faster sailing & thrilling racing

The new design rule will be a critical element of building a spectacular event.

Renowned but neutral designers - Bruce Nelson and Peter Melvin - have created two different concepts - a multihull and a monohull.

Teams will sit down this month and discuss which concept to adopt and begin the process to create a design rule.

The requirements of the new America's Cup Class rule are:

* It should produce dynamic and close racing
* It should use advanced, efficient and cost-effective technologies
* It should be distinctive and epitomize the pinnacle of the sport
* It should be able to race in any venue un winds from 5-35 knots

The ability to race in all venues and in most wind strengths is vital to make race scheduling reliable for fans and broadcasters.

"Delays kill interest. Even the hard-core fan doesn't like having to wait for enough wind to race," said Coutts.

Venue and Year-host cities evaluated

2013 and 2014 were named as the most likely dates for the next Cup.

Sufficient time is needed to evaluate venues and create impressive, efficient infrastructure for the Cup Village.

Coutts confirmed that American sites were not the only ones under consideration. But he noted: "Every candidate city knows that a very strong case has already been put forward by San Francisco."

Cities in the USA and Europe are under consideration.

Highly experienced specialists have been engaged to manage the evaluation process.

Regular racing in multiple locations

Host cities are also being sought for a series of regular racing for Cup teams. This racing will be integrated into the America's Cup, in a plan developed in conjunction with the World Sailing Teams Association.

Changes welcomed by Cup community

Paul Cayard, six-time America's Cup competitor and representing not just Sweden's Team Artemis but the World Sailing Teams Association, commented on the reform package:

"We believe that the WSTA and its Louis Vuitton Trophy events are exactly the type of activity that needs to be incorporated into the big picture of the America's Cup.

"With its global venues in important markets, regular calendar of events, tight racing in America's Cup class boats, equal representation for each team, these events represent great commercial value that the teams can pass along to their sponsors."

Challenger trials for the challengers & litigation ended

Coutts confirmed that the Defender will not participate in the Challenger trials as the previous Defender had done. And that all litigation from the contentious 33rd America's Cup was over because of a settlement signed last month with the Swiss.

"That episode is history. Our focus is the future," Coutts said.

America's Cup