The late-entry period for the 36th America’s cup officially closed on last Friday (30th November) at 17:00 NZT. With it, an additional eight new Notices of Challenge were received.
The Challenger applicants, who would have had to pay the one million USD late-entry penalty fee, will hope to qualify and compete against the defending Emirates Team New Zealand. The New Zealand Defenders claimed the cup against the US Oracle Team in 2017 when racing on the Great Sound in Bermuda.
As suggested by Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton, this is a significant number and confirms an increased global interest in the Americas Cup: “We are really encouraged by the level of interest that has been shown from around the world by the number of Notices of Challenge that have been lodged,” he said. Dalton further added that the step-up in entrant numbers is “a true reflection on the belief and excitement of the new AC75 boat concept and the ideal host venue for racing”.
However, not all of these entrants will become competitors. In fact, only one of these eight applicants can be accepted immediately, according to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Challenging yacht clubs must meet a number of requirements outlined by the America’s Cup official protocol and the event’s Deed of Gift. Alongside other regulations, eligible yacht clubs need to have their own annual regatta, must have existed for more than five years and should be supported by at least 200 paying club members. The new protocol also states that at least three of the competing crew must now be citizens of their team’s country.
As cautioned by Dalton, it’s important “not to jump to conclusions on the final number of teams. It is only when the acceptance process has been completed that we will know how many will compete”. The entrants’ applications will be thoroughly examined starting immediately, with confirmation of Challengers to be announced at a later date. Though the nationalities of these late-entry teams have not been revealed, it has been rumored that a team from the Netherlands may be in the mix for the first time.
The successful applicants will join the already confirmed US, Italy and UK teams in the America’s Cup World Series. Taking place in the latter part of 2019, these preliminary races will determine how many teams will enter the 36th America’s Cup sponsored by Prada, which will be held in March 2021 in Auckland, New Zealand.