The Swiss Société Nautique de Genève, whose Alinghi Team won the America's Cup two days ago, and its Challenger of Record, the Golden Gate Yacht Club, have released details of the Protocol for the next America's Cup.
No details were given on the date of the next event, or the venue, apart from the provision that the America's Cup will be contested on European waters. Full details for dates and venue will be specified on or before 15th December, 2003.
The XXXIInd Cup Protocol envisions major changes to the way the America's Cup is organised, with notable differences in the Format of the Regatta, nationality requirements, technology transfer restrictions, the Jury and the organising authority.
Among the things that stay the same are the class of boat to be used, the windward-leeward race course and the provision that teams cannot name their boat in a way that constitutes advertising, One of the more crowd pleasing changes is sure to be concerning the 'unveiling' rule. All teams must unveil their boats before the start of racing.
The regatta format will include pre-regattas beginning as early as the summer of 2003, and include fleet races involving the Defender before the America's Cup proper. These races will have minimal impact on the later regatta, but will count to a small extent.
The Protocol envisions the America's Cup beginning with a fleet race to determine (along with the results of previous regattas) seeding for a Round Robin elimination series. At least the top eight Challengers will survive the Round Robins and advance through to a knock-out series to select the eventual Challenger. The America's Cup Match will continue to be a best of nine series.
Nationality and residency requirements for personnel have been completely dropped from the Protocol. But individuals once aligned with one syndicate may not work for another syndicate.
The rules governing the transfer of technology have also been relaxed. Teams will be able to purchase old design information up until October 2004, and at any time, design information can be included with the purchase of an old boat. That being said, newly generated design information cannot be shared across teams.
Perhaps the largest change is in the structure of the organising authority that runs the America's Cup. For the first time, there will be just one body responsible for both the Challenger selection series and the America's Cup.
The Protocol envisions the Defender, the Société Nautique de Genève will establish an Event Authority, charged with managing all the funds raised through sponsorship, media rights, merchandising etc. After a 10 per cent management fee, this money will be used to run the regatta. Any surplus revenue will be split between the Defender, and all of the Challengers.
The Challenger of Record and the Defender will appoint a Jury and a Regatta Director. The latter, responsible for on-the-water activities, will appoint a race committee, a Chief Umpire, and, in collaboration with the chief measurer, a measurement committee. The Jury will arbitrate all disputes except those that are measurement related. There will be no Arbitration Panel.
Reaction to this protocol is initially favourable amongst the Cup community.
The Protocol document is available on the Alinghi website, at the address below.