Next Cup Will See Longer Boats

News brief

Representatives from Alinghi and America's Cup Management announced the protocol for the 33rd America's Cup on Thursday afternoon in Valencia, Spain. Among the highlights was the introduction of a new class of boat, to be 90 feet in length overall, sailed by a crew of around 20 sailors. The final design rule for the new class will be issued by the end of the year. The Challenger of Record is the Club Nautico Español de Vela which has agreed on the protocol for the 33rd America's Cup with the defending yacht club, the Societe Nautique de Geneve (SNG). Michel Bonnefous, the CEO of the event organisers, Brad Butterworth, the skipper of the winning Alinghi team, and Hamish Ross, General Counsel of Alinghi, spoke at a press conference in Port America's Cup. The venue for the 33rd America's Cup has not been announced, but it was acknowledged that there is an existing relationship with Valencia and that a host city agreement with the city is being pursued. The selection of Valencia, or an alternative European venue, will be made and announced by the end of the year. "Today we have a natural relationship with Valencia and Spain, and obviously we are discussing extensively the renewal of Valencia as a venue, but we haven't reached an agreement so far. I imagine if we can reach an agreement with Valencia it will happen fairly soon, so we will be able to announce it quickly," said Michel Bonnefous, who also confirmed he would be stepping back his involvement in the next Cup, but not retiring. "If not, we start the process - for two or three months - to select another venue. We have a few cities already who have told us of their interest in hosting the America's Cup." The 33rd America's Cup will take place no earlier than 2009 and no later than 2011. It will consist of pre-regattas (potentially to be used as qualifying for the main event), along with the 'main event', comprising Trials, Challenger Selection, and the America's Cup Match. This schedule will be confirmed by the end of the year. As with the 32nd America's Cup, the SNG has appointed ACM to manage, organize, and finance the 33rd America's Cup. Clearly, the biggest change will be the new class of boat, which Butterworth described as being something that will open the door to new teams, as all the teams in the next Cup, even existing ones, will start from the same level. "Everybody seems to want a new boat that is bigger, more exciting and difficult to sail, and faster, which is the emphasis behind it," Butterworth said. "We're trying to develop something more exciting. These boats have been fantastic but I think they have got to the end of their life and people are looking for something bigger and faster, harder to sail. The guys will have to be athletic; they will be tough boats to sail." In the pre- regattas, teams will compete in the existing America's Cup Class boats. There will be at least 18 months between the publication of the new Class Rule and the first race in that class. ACM will now work on fleshing out the details of the new Class Rule, selecting the venue, and publishing the Competition Regulations and Event Regulations.