A New Era for the Cup

New format announced for the 2002 Admiral’s Cup

After canceling the 2001 Admirals Cup due to lack of interest, the Royal Ocean Racing Club knew that they’d have to make some massive changes if they wanted to resurrect the event’s former glory. On Wednesday, January 9, in a press conference at the London Boat Show, the RORC did just that.

Commodore Peter Rutter announced that Cowes was out as the host town for the AC and that in 2003, the event will be held in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, July 12 to 26. The two-week regatta will consist of inshore racing in Dublin Bay followed by a 710-mile ocean race around Ireland. Teams will come from yacht clubs recognized by a national authority, and there can be two teams per club/country.

The three-boat format has also been given the heave-ho. Accepting that there was no common international measurement rule, and that other countries may not adopt the Club’s favored rule, IRM, the RORC headed straight for common ground.

The big boat will be an IRC-endorsed boat longer than 50 feet with the exact size to be announced in the summer of 2002. Speculation is largely useless at this point, but don’t be surprised if maxis start coming back into fashion.

The IMS 600--boats that rate in IMS between 595 to 615 seconds per mile--offshore cruiser/racer class will be the small boat class, in. Don Genitempo, Chairman of the ISAF Offshore Classes sub-committee, and the lead for several past U.S. AC campaigns was pleased with the decision. "The selection of the IMS 600 Class was a very wise choice by the RORC," he said. "It provides a large existing base of active yachts from which to form a team, and being a dual purpose, production yacht, entry into the class is easy and affordable. We have identified over 270 yachts eligible for inclusion. Fleets are organized in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Scandinavia — with the process underway in Germany, Holland and South America." As of October, some 200 boats fit the rule as well, including the IMX 40 and the Beneteau First 40.7. Popular U.S. classes such as the Farr 40 and the Farr 395 do not fit the rating band.

The RORC stated, "The event should be primarily, but not exclusively professional," and placed a 50 percent cap on professionals in the IMS 600 class but allowing drivers to be part of that 50 percent. Cruiser/racers will likely be crewed by some extremely talented "amateurs" led by pro drivers. The big-boat class will have no crew restrictions.

Why Dublin? While the Solent provided challenging racing conditions, the infrastructure in Cowes itself isn’t up to the task. Facilities tend to be overwhelmed during large events and the town, while quaint, isn’t viewed with the same ardor as Palma, Miami, or Sydney. Dublin satisfies RORC’s need to keep the event close to home, for now, and is viewed by many Europeans as a go-to destination. The recent vitalization of the Irish economy was also a factor. A new public marina and an unspecified amount of support from the Irish government likely helped the RORC make the move.

Dublin Bay won’t be the permanent home for the Admiral’s Cup, it’s now a traveling road show, satisfying ISAF rules governing what constitutes an international championship. While the complete details haven’t been finalized, one could reasonably expect that the winning team would be the host for the next go-round.

Challenges and teams:

Challenges will be from Clubs (affiliated to a National Authority)
Club membership - owner/skipper and a percentage of the crew will be required
Two teams per country will be accepted initially
Nationality rules will be minimal
Classes:

1 IRC (Endorsed) big boat racing under IRC (Endorsed) - over 50 ft (exact size to be confirmed)
No restriction on professionals for this class
1 IMS 600 Class boat from the IMS 600 Class (Class Rules will be used which may restrict professionals)
Timetable:

Spring 2002 - RORC anticipates making an announcement regarding sponsorship
Summer 2002 - Confirmation of IRC Class size
Late autumn 2002 - Admiral's Cup Notice of Race to be published