'This system is something completely new for the America's Cup,' said Michel BONNEFOUS, CEO of the America's Cup organizers. 'The racing that begins in June in Valencia, and continues through the Louis Vuitton Acts over the next three years, is going to have a real impact.'
'In direct collaboration with the challengers, through the Challenger Commission, we have developed a system that will bring real excitement to the racing in all of the Louis Vuitton Acts.'
The 32nd America's Cup is an event consisting of three distinct phases. To begin, the Louis Vuitton Acts, which began in 2004 and continue through a Fleet Race in 2007, are opening Acts which include all the competitors. Then, following the Fleet Race of Act 14 in 2007, the Louis Vuitton Cup begins. This is the Challenger selection series that determines who will race the Defender, Team Alinghi (SUI), in the 32nd America's Cup Match, the third and final stage of the competition.
Competitors will collect points based upon their finishing position in each of the remaining ten Louis Vuitton Acts. These points will be used for two purposes.
In the first place, the points will yield an annual ranking, and for 2004, 2005, and 2006, this winner of this ranking will be crowned the Louis Vuitton ACC Champion. Team Alinghi, the Defender, is eligible for this.
Secondly, these annual championship points will be used to rank the challengers. For this, the influence of Alinghi on the results will be removed. These results will then be multiplied by a weighting factor so that the events will be more heavily weighted as time goes by, with each year counting more than the previous. The total of these points, the Ranking Points, gives the Louis Vuitton Ranking.
The challengers will be assigned bonus points based on this ranking that they carry with them into the first Round Robin of the Louis Vuitton Cup. In summary, the challengers who perform better over the next three years will earn more bonus points, but the gap will not be so big that a team who starts winning in 2007 is not able to advance.
'The concept of earning Ranking Points due to your results in the Acts is a big breakthrough for the America's Cup,' said Tom EHMAN, past Chairman of the Challenger Commission and a key figure in devising the system. 'It means the Louis Vuitton Acts are real competitions in their own right, with significant rewards for good performance. At the same time, the bonus points awarded will not give a team an insurmountable lead entering the Louis Vuitton Cup. You will still need to win many races in 2007 if you hope to become the Challenger and earn the opportunity of relieving Alinghi of the America's Cup.'
The Louis Vuitton Cup, to select the Challenger who will face Team Alinghi in the 32nd America's Cup Match, will consist of two round robins, semi finals, and then a final. The teams will start the round robins with the bonus points earned from their Louis Vuitton Ranking. Following the round robins, the top four teams are paired up and advance to the best-of-nine semi final, the winners facing off in the Louis Vuitton Cup Final (also best-of-nine) for the right to race Alinghi for the America's Cup.
Scoring sheets, point tables and diagrams accompany a full explanation of the scoring system and how competitors earn ranking points as they proceed towards the Louis Vuitton Cup. These can be downloaded from the America's Cup Website.
Teams will have their first opportunity to earn Louis Vuitton Ranking Points at the Valencia Louis Vuitton Acts 4&5. The match races of Act 4 begin in less than two weeks, on 16 June.