Teams join forces to define new era for America’s Cup

Competitors in the America’s Cup have today (Wednesday) hailed a new era for the historic sailing competition after a framework agreement was unveiled that will govern the 36th and 37th editions of the event.

Five of the six current competitors and their respective yacht clubs have signed the agreement in the shape of defending champion Oracle Team USA, Sweden’s Artemis Racing, Team France, Britain’s Land Rover BAR and Team Japan. Team New Zealand is yet to commit to the deal, but officials have stated they are optimistic that they will come on board.

The agreement intends to introduce long-sought stability and continuity in the competition for the oldest trophy in international sport. “This is a hugely significant moment for the America’s Cup,” Sir Russell Coutts, a five-time winner of the Cup and chief executive of the America’s Cup Event Authority, said. “For the first time in more than 165 years, the teams have got together for the benefit of not only themselves but for the America’s Cup.”

The framework agreement will cover the next two editions, the 36th and 37th America’s Cup, due to take place in 2019 and 2021 respectively. Racing in the 35th America’s Cup will take place in Bermuda in May/June and the 36th America's Cup cycle will commence thereafter.

As is required, the framework agreement respects and upholds all aspects of the Deed of Gift, the document that governs the America’s Cup. Under the document, the victorious yacht club and its team become the trustees of the event, responsible for outlining the terms of the next edition. This has often resulted in lengthy disputes between competitors and delays in on-water action taking place.

Under the terms of the new framework agreement unveiled in London today, the America’s Cup will be on delivered on a two-yearly cycle for its 36th and 37th editions. The America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) will start, at the election of the defender, as soon as the fourth quarter of 2017. Venues, sponsors and media partners will be approached over the next six months to secure up to 12 international events over the next two years.

Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of Oracle Team USA, said: “We have all seen how damaging the extended quiet period can be for each of the stakeholders in the event. What we’ve done over the past year is to work together to tackle that problem head-on.

“We know that one of the current teams is going to win, so we have found common ground on a vision for the next event, and formalised that into rules now, before racing starts later this year. That means there is now a clear plan in place that confirms the format for the competition using existing boats and equipment as much as possible to reduce costs.

“I think this announcement will go down as one of the defining moments in America’s Cup history. It’s great for fans, athletes, and commercially – a win win for everyone. This is a huge step forward, with the sky the limit.”

Officials added that several prospective new teams have been briefed on the framework agreement and have expressed “significant interest” in becoming challengers for the 36th and 37th America’s Cups.

Martin Whitmarsh, chief executive of Land Rover BAR, said: “Emirates Team New Zealand is not here today, but they have been kept updated on all developments throughout the creation of the framework agreement

“We remain optimistic that they will come on board in the future and it is clear that cooperation is better for all of the stakeholders in the America’s Cup. The target cost to field a competitive new team is in the $30-40m (€27.9m-37.2m) range, a significant reduction from current team budgets.”