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17 September 2002, 03:24 pm
History of The Auld Mug, The Louis Vuitton Challenger Series, and the Racing Format.
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FRA 46 & NZL 32 © Gilles Martin Raget

America's Cup
Auckland

In this, our first of three articles, we explain the background to the Cup, the racing format for the Challenger and Defender series, as well as the key dates.
When nine syndicates take to the water for the first round of the Louis Vuitton Cup on October 1st they will be adding their names to a long list of personalities who have already fought for the right to race for the oldest trophy in Sport. The Louis Vuitton Cup is the event sailed prior to, and determines who will race the defending syndicate for the America's Cup.

The America's Cup currently occupies a powerful position in an armoured cabinet within the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron in Auckland, after New Zealand's last successful defence in 2000, and there are few trophies with such an ability to stir emotions, to command such reverence that inspire the vast fortunes being spent on trying to capture it from it's previous winners.

Originally awarded by the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes, Great Britain to the Schooner "America", who successfully challenged the prime of the British racing fleet in a race clockwise around the Isle of Wight in 1851, what was then the 100 Guineas Cup took up residence in the New York Yacht Club. Taking the name of the yacht that had won it, the 100 Guineas Cup became The America's Cup and from then on, resided in a dedicated Circular room in Manhattan for 132 years, with the USA successfully defending no less than 25 challenges to their racing supremacy.

In 1983, Alan Bond's Australia II syndicate ended the longest winning streak in sporting history. And so began a new period in America's Cup history.

1983 was the first time more than one yacht club had put forward a challenge, thus, a challenger series had to be established to decide who would be the final challenger in the America's Cup Match. Louis Vuitton became a partner to this challenger series, and since then, The Louis Vuitton Cup has become a fundamental and established part of the America's Cup event.

What is known as the America's Cup is in fact these two separate competitions. The Louis Vuitton Cup (challenger series) decides who meets the defending syndicate, RNZYS - Team New Zealand, in the second competition, the actual America's Cup.

Unlike many sailing events the Louis Vuitton and America's Cup matches are run by representatives of the syndicates wishing to compete. Called the "Challenger of Record Management (CORM)", it consists of three members of the Italian Prada Challenge (The official Challenger of Record) and four other syndicate members. Prada became the Challenger of Record after being the first to announce their intention to challenge Team New Zealand, on the way in from the last race of the 2000 America's Cup. Prada having been beaten 5-0 by the Kiwi defenders.

This year's challenger series is designed to produce the strongest syndicate, out of the nine entered, to take on Team New Zealand. It will start with two round robins, where each syndicate sails each other twice, with one point for a win. There is no second place in a match race and at the end of the round robin stage, there will be an established seeding. One syndicate will be eliminated at this stage, with the remaining eight being seeded for the quarter-finals according to their results.

The top four seeded syndicates from the round robins (double chance) pair up against each other, with the top seeded being able to choose who their competitor will be. They race a best of seven match series against each other, the winners of each series going directly into the semi-final. The losers of this double chance quarter-final go into the quarter-final repechage round, to then face the quarter-final winners of the 5-8 seeded group (single chance), who have already raced their own best of seven match series. The losers of the single chance matches are eliminated from the challenger series.

In the quarter-final repechage, again, two best of seven race series are sailed, with the winners making up the third and fourth pair in the semi-finals and the losers being eliminated.

The two winners from the double chance group in the quarter-final race each other in a best of seven match semi-final series to decide the first finalist of the challenger series. The loser of this semi-final goes into a semi-final repechage to meet the winner of the second semi-final, the loser of the second semi-final being eliminated.

The best of nine race final for the Louis Vuitton Cup is due to take place between Saturday 11 and Tuesday 21 January 2003, with the winner going on to Challenge for the 31st America's Cup between 15 and 28 February 2003.

Tomorrow we bring you a breakdown of all the 10 syndicates, now based in Auckland, New Zealand, who will be racing in the Louis Vuitton Cup, hoping to challenge for and ultimately take home, The America's Cup.

Important Dates

Event Dates Stage
Louis Vuitton Cup - Challenger Series
Louis Vuitton Cup Round Robin 1 1 - 11 Oct 2002
6 Oct 2002 Reserve Day
11 - 14 Oct 2002 Reserve Days
Louis Vuitton Cup Round Robin 2 22 - 31 Oct 2002
27 Oct 2002 Reserve Day
1 - 4 Nov 2002 Reserve Days
Louis Vuitton Cup quarter-final 12 - 19 Nov 2002
15 Nov 2002 Reserve Day
23 - 30 Nov 2002 Repechage
26 Nov 2002 Reserve Day
Louis Vuitton Cup semi-final 9 - 16 Dec 2002
15 Dec 2002 Reserve Day
20 - 28 Dec 2002 Repechage
25 - 26 Dec Christmas Break
Louis Vuitton Cup Final 11 - 21 Jan 2003
14 Jan 2003 Reserve Day
18 Jan 2003 Reserve Day
23 - 24 Jan Reserve Days
XXXI America's Cup Match - 2003
America's Cup 10 Feb 2003 Common Declaration Day
11 Feb 2003 Unveiling Day
15 - 28 Feb 2003 America's Cup Match
17 Feb 2003 Reserve Day
19 Feb 2003 Reserve Day
21 Feb 2003 Reserve Day
24 Feb 2003 Reserve Day
26 Feb 2003 Reserve Day
28 Feb 2003 Reserve Day

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