Who's up for the challenge? Rules released for America's Cup

As the Protocol for the 35th America's Cup is released, Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of the defending champion, ORACLE TEAM USA, looks ahead to the challenge.
Foto: Abner Kingman / ACEA

“We’re going to have our work cut out for us, that’s for sure.”

So says ORACLE TEAM USA skipper Jimmy Spithill as he assesses the competition for the 35th America’s Cup.

Today, the Protocol was released, which defines the rules, format and commercial regulations for the 35th America’s Cup. Entries open on June 9th and close August 8th, 2014, giving prospective teams two months to enter.

See what the teams are saying

The Class Rule for the new AC62 yacht, which has already been shared with teams in draft format, will be issued in the coming days, prior to the entry period opening.

Highlights of the Protocol include:

   * A three year racing program from 2015 to 2017 with every race counting towards qualification and/or points in the final America’s Cup Match

   * At least six America’s Cup World Series events per year in 2015 and 2016 to be raced in the AC45 class. All teams have an opportunity to host an event in their home country

   * An America’s Cup Qualifiers series in 2017 involving all teams, with a bonus point in the America’s Cup Match at stake

   * America’s Cup Challenger Playoffs for the top four challenger teams to emerge from the Qualifiers 

   * The America’s Cup Match, featuring the defender, ORACLE TEAM USA against the top challenger. The first team to win 7 points will win the America’s Cup

   * Up to two Youth America’s Cup events providing a pathway for young sailors to join the top rank of professionals

   * The new AC62 yacht – a foiling, wing sail catamaran sailed by 8 crew – to be raced in all events in 2017

   * A crew nationality rule requiring at least 25% of the AC62 crew to be nationals of the country of their challenge

The Protocol was negotiated between defending champion ORACLE TEAM USA and its Golden Gate Yacht Club and Team Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club, the Challenger of Record.

The 35th America’s Cup builds on the successful elements of the last America’s Cup – fast, exciting racing in foiling multihulls that is challenging for the best sailors in the world and appealing to spectators.

“We are convinced the 35th America’s Cup will surpass previous events in almost every way: more challengers, amazing new boats and a competition structure that will engage and enthrall people over a three year period,” said Mat Belcher, the skipper of Team Australia, the Challenger of Record.

For his part, Spithill is aware that a stronger group of challengers will make it that much more difficult for his team to hold on to the Cup.

“It’s the America’s Cup, so it’s not supposed to be easy, but our goal is to make it a three-peat,” says Spithill, who led his team to victory in 2010 and 2013. “It was so close last time. Battling back to win from being down 8-1 is something we will never forget and I expect it will be just as difficult this time.”

The entry period is open from June 9th to August 8th 2014.

Download the Protocol for the 35th America’s Cup