The 33rd America’s Cup will feature bigger, faster boats

The Protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup was revealed on Thursday afternoon, detailing the broad outlines of the next event. Among the highlights was the introduction of a new class of boat, to be 90 feet in length overall, sailed by a crew of around 20 sailors. The final design rule for the new class will be issued on or before 31 December 2007.

The Challenger of Record is the Club Náutico Español de Vela which has agreed on the Protocol for the 33rd America’s Cup with the Defending Yacht Club, the Société Nautique de Genève (SNG).

The Protocol was announced at a press conference in Port America’s Cup on Thursday at noon, by Michel Bonnefous, the CEO of the event organisers, Brad Butterworth, the skipper of the winning Alinghi team, and Hamish Ross, General Counsel of Alinghi.

The venue for the 33rd America’s Cup has not been announced. But it was acknowledged that there is an existing relationship with Valencia and a host city agreement with the city is being pursued. The selection of Valencia, or an alternative European venue, will be made and announced on or before 31December 2007.

“Today we have a natural relationship with Valencia and Spain, and obviously we are discussing extensively the renewal of Valencia as a venue, but we haven’t reached an agreement so far. I imagine if we can reach an agreement with Valencia it will happen fairly soon, so we will be able to announce it quickly,” said Michel Bonnefous, who also confirmed he would be stepping back his involvement in the next Cup, but not retiring. “If not, we start the process – for two or three months – to select another venue. We have a few cities already who have told us of their interest in hosting the America’s Cup.”

The 33rd America’s Cup will take place no earlier than 2009 and no later than 2011. It will consist of pre-regattas (potentially to be used as qualifying for the main event), along with the ‘main event’, comprising Trials, Challenger Selection, and the America’s Cup Match. This schedule will be confirmed on or before 31 December 2007.

As with the 32nd America’s Cup, the SNG has appointed ACM to manage, organise and finance the 33rd America’s Cup.

ACM is also charged with appointing a Race Committee and Measurement Committee along with a Chief Umpire. ACM will establish a Competitors’ Commission, with representation from the Defender and Challengers, which will hold regular meetings as a forum to exchange information.

Clearly, the biggest change will be the new class of boat, which Butterworth described as being something that will open the door to new teams, as all the teams in the next Cup, even existing ones, will start from the same level.

“Everybody seems to want a new boat that is bigger, more exciting and difficult to sail, and faster which is the emphasis behind it,” Butterworth said. “We’re trying to develop something more exciting. These boats have been fantastic but I think they have got to the end of their life and people are looking for something bigger and faster, harder to sail. The guys will have to be athletic; they will be tough boats to sail.”

In the pre- regattas, teams will compete in the existing America’s Cup Class boats. There will be at least 18 months between the publication of the new Class Rule and the first race in that class.

ACM will now work on fleshing out the details of the new Class Rule, selecting the venue, and publishing the Competition Regulations and Event Regulations.