Scuttlebutt - N° 5300 - 4 aprile 2019
When the entry period opened for the 36th America’s Cup as of the 1st of January 2018, everyone understood the deal. Entries and monies were to be submitted per the terms of the America’s Cup Deed of Gift and the Protocol, the entry period would close June 30, 2018, but late entries were to be accepted up until 30th of November 2018 (with a late fee).
Seemed simple enough at the time, and Challenges from Great Britain, Italy, and USA all promptly stepped up with their war chests to take on the New Zealand Defender.
But there would be silence until the end of November when the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Emirates Team New Zealand confirmed there had been an additional eight Notices of Challenge received by the deadline.
The Protocol stated how the Challenges submitted prior to June 30 required an entry fee of USD 2 million, half payable within 10 days of acceptance with the balance paid by November 30. As for the late entries, their fee, which included an additional USD 1 million, needed to be paid in full by December 31st.
Of the eight teams, only Malta, Netherlands, and another USA team would be confirmed, but when it was learned they were not submitting their fees per the schedule, the legitimacy of their entry was put in dispute. Pay up, they said, or get out of the way.
Seems fair enough, right? Apparently not, as when the row was submitted to the Arbitration Panel, which is the umpiring body for the America’s Cup Protocol and other regulation issues, the Panel found that the payment of entry fees was only a condition to their being able to race in the America’s Cup, and not a condition of their being an accepted Challenger.
Translated, their ruling meant that entry fees have only to be paid before the first race of the competition. Huh, okay, but this verdict was apparently superseded by an agreement between the Defender and Challenger of Record which revised the schedule for the late entrants to submit the additional USD 1 million.
The new deadlines in 2019 are $250,000 by April 1 and 750,000 by October 1. So did the three late entries make that first submittal? Who knows, but there is smoke on the water.
• On March 14 it was already reported by the Defender regarding their concerns as to the likelihood of the Maltese Malta Altus Challenge being able to continue.
• The DUTCHSAIL (NED) team distributed a press release on April 1 that basically said nothing, and when I asked if they’d made the entry deadline, I got no response. The fact that they launched a gofundme-type project doesn’t instill confidence.
• The Stars & Stripes Team USA (USA) distributed a press release on April 2 which said they had no plans to withdraw, but not that they made the payment. It also said that Justin Shaffer, who held the CEO position and I suspect helped finance the team, had been replaced by team co-founder Mike Buckley.
So either they paid the fee or not, and if they didn’t, do they get another lifeline? Or are we back to deadlines not mattering until the competition begins? Standing by…