America’s Cup Guide

Updated - Saturday 8 February 2020

36th America's Cup - 2021 in Auckland

Defender:     Emirates Team New Zealand from Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.


  • Luna Rossa (ITA) from Circolo della Vela Sicilia - Challenger of Record.

  • American Magic from New York Yacht Club.

  • INEOS Team UK (formerly Land Rover BAR) from Royal Yacht Squadron Racing.

  • Altus Challenge (MLT) from Royal Malta Yacht Club. Late entry.  Dropped out.
  • Stars & Stripes Team USA from Long Beach Yacht Club. Late entry. Will need unlikely Protocol change to avoid disqualification for not racing in Cagliari in April 2021.
  • DutchSail (NED) from Royal Rowing and Sailing Society 'De Maas'. Late entry. Dropped out.
  • The deadline for late challenges was 30 November 2018.
  • At the late entry deadline, RNZYS reported having received eight late challenges.  They accepted the three noted above. The others had conditions that appear to have prevented acceptance.
  • We don't know who were the other five clubs that submitted the Notice of Challenge.
    • Team France announced they would not challenge - not enough sponsorship funding.
    • Two additional Italian challengers made public announcements: Adelasia di Torres from Sardinia and Columbus 2021 from Imperia.
    • Rumors consistently mentioned China, but there were never any details.
    • A challenger from Norway was also rumored, but again, with no details.

Yachts:    AC75 foiling monohulls with crew of 11.

Nationality:     at least three passport holders. Others must be permanent residents.

America's Cup World Series: two events "possilble" (but unlikely) in Fall 2019, three events in 2020.

Christmas Regatta:     10-20 December 2020 in Auckland.

Challenger Selection Series: (PRADA Cup) in February 2021 in Auckland.

America's Cup Match:  6-21 March 2021 in Auckland.

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36th America's Cup - 2021 in Auckland


Emirates Team New Zealand representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron will defend the America's Cup against the winner of the "Prada Cup" Challenger Selection Series. Italy's Circola della Vela Sicilia is the Challenger of Record yacht club, represented by the Luna Rossa sailing team and event organiser "COR36."

Challenges have been accepted from New York Yacht Club's American Magic,  Royal Yacht Squadron Racing's INEOS Team UK (formerly Land Rover BAR), Royal Malta Yacht Club's Altus Challenge, Long Beach Yacht Club's Stars & Stripes Team USA, and DutchSail from the Royal Rowing and Sailing Society 'De Maas' of The Netherlands.

Racing will be in foiling 75 foot long monohulls sailed by a crew of 11, all of whom must meet a strict nationality requirement.

America's Cup Village

Updated 8 February 2020  After months of debating various America's Cup Village layouts, Emirates Team New Zealand, the Auckland Council and the the New Zealand government agreed on a plan and confirmed in late March 2018 that Auckland will be the venue for the 2021 America's Cup.

By February 2019, the Defender and the Challenger of Record were disputing the validity of the three late challenges and whether to make changes to the Protocol. ETNZ  implied that if Luna Rossa did not cooperate, the Luna Rossa base would not be located at Hobson's Wharf, as shown in this diagram. Luna Rossa gave in and agreed to a Protocol change, allowing the three late challengers. All of them later dropped out. Luna Rossa got the base they wanted and ETNZ still has only three challengers.

America's Cup Village - Auckland 2021

America's Cup Village - Auckland 2021


Updated 8 February 2020    Six challengers were accepted by Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, but three dropped out. Defender Emirates Team New Zealand reported that eight additional challenges were submitted before the close of the late entry period on 30 November 2018. Three of those were accepted but all have dropped out: Malta Altus Challenge, Stars & Stripes Team USA and DutchSail. The other five challenges never materialized. All of them had conditions that would require changes to the protocol, e.g. adding an America's Cup World Series event in their country.

As in 2013 in San Francisco, there are only three challengers. The difference this time is that all three have strong backing and should be competitive.

Emirates Team New Zealand

ETNZ represents the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. RNZYS is the only club in America's Cup history to have lost the Cup and then won it back. ETNZ dominated Oracle in the 2017 America's Cup Match winning eight races. ETNZ won with better design and better sailing. They were helped by Oracle's self-inflicted errors including being OCS in Races 1 and 5 and a disastrous gybe in Race 2

Key Team Members

  • Dan Bernasconi - Head of Design
  • Glenn Ashby - Sailing Team
  • Peter Burling - Helmsman
  • Grant Dalton - CEO
  • Kevin Shoebridge - COO
  • Mateo De Nora - Team Principal
  • Sir Stephen Tyndall - Director

2017 helmsman Peter Burling raced around the world with Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race, finishing third. Blair Tuke was also in the VOR with Spanish team Mapfre, and finished second. Tuke and Burling dominated the 49er class for four years leading up to their gold medal at Rio. Tuke was the primary operator of the foil controls from his cyclor station in ETNZ's dramatic win over Oracle in Bermuda in 2017. 

Luna Rossa Challenge

To no one's surprise, the Circolo della Vela Sicilia became the Challenger of Record for the 2021 America's Cup represented by Luna Rossa. Also to no one's surprise they convinced ETNZ to move to monohulls. Having been a victim of America's Cup skullduggery leading to their withdrawal from the 2017 America's Cup, Luna Rossa negotiated a Protocol with ETNZ that reserves extensive powers for themselves as CoR and high visibility event naming rights for PRADA.

Key Team Members  

  • Patrizio Bertelli - Team President and CEO of PRADA
  • Max Sirena - Skipper and Team Director
  • Martin Fischer - Head of Design Team
  • Francesco Bruni - Sailing Team
  • Jimmy Spithill - Sailing Team

New York Yacht Club American Magic

The New York Yacht Club returns to the America's Cup represented by team New York Yacht Club American Magic. They and INEOS Team UK are the only syndicates to have announced their submission of a formal challenge under the Protocol. They will have their primary base in Newport, Rhode Island. Team announcement.

Key Team Members  

  • John J. "Hap" Fauth (USA) - CEO
  • Doug DeVos (USA) - Principal
  • Roger Penske (USA) - Principal
  • Phil Lotz (USA) - NYYC Commodore
  • Terry Hutchinson (USA) - Skipper
  • Dean Barker (NZL) - Helmsman
  • Marcelino Botìn (ESP) - Head of Design Team
  • Bora Gulari (USA) - Sailing Team
  • Andrew Campbell (USA) - Sailing Team
  • Cooper Dressler (USA) - Sailing Team
  • Joe Spooner (NZL) - Sailing Team
  • Jim Turner (NZL) - Sailing Team
  • Sean Clarkson (NZL) - Sailing Team
  • Paul Goodison (GBR) - Sailing Team
  • Ian Moore (GBR) - Sailing Team


Representing Royal Yacht Squadron Racing, Ben Ainslie's team was relaunched in April 2018 by INEOS, a major chemical and petrochemical company. 

Key Team Members

  • Jim Ratcliffe (GBR) - Founder & Chairman / INEOS CEO
  • Ben Ainslie (GBR) -  Skipper & Team Principal
  • Grant Simmer (AUS) - CEO
  • Nick Holroyd (NZL) - Chief Designer
  • Giles Scott (GBR) - Tactician
  • Jono Macbeth (NZL) - Sailing Team Manager

Late Challenges - All have dropped out

Updated 8 February 2020

Malta Altus Challenge - withdrew

Little information has been available since the challenge was announced on 7 December 2019.

Key Team Members

  • Pasquale Cataldi (ITA) - Team Principal
  • Hamish Ross (NZL) - Rules Advisor
  • Niccolò Porzio (ITA) - Chief Strategy Officer

Stars+Stripes Team USA - unfunded, will not race

Updated 8 February 2020    Long Beach Yacht Club, represented by Stars & Stripes Team USA, announced on 12 December 2019 that their challenge has been accepted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Stars+Stripes is led by Mike Buckley and former match racing world champion Taylor Canfield. Their plan was to mount an all-American challenge - both crew and designers. Canfield and Buckley met with Dennis Conner and got his blessing to use the name. Conner is not involved in the team.

Initial funding has come from private backers. The team hoped to add commercial sponsors.

Stars+Stripes bought a design package from Emirates Team New Zealand. Construction of their first AC75 began before the launch announcement. The yacht is being built by Composite Builders of Holland, Michigan. 

Key Team Members

  • Mike Buckley - Co-founder, Tactician
  • Taylor Canfield - Co-founder, Helmsman
  • JB Braun - Head of Design
  • Justin Schaffer - CEO
  • Tod Reynolds - COO
  • Melinda Erkelens - Chief Counsel
  • Camille Daniels - Commodore, Long Beach Yacht Club
  • Bill Durant - Staff Commodore, Long Beach Yacht Club

DutchSail -  withdrew

Team founder Simeon Tienpont leads the first Dutch challenge in America's Cup history, announced on 21 December 2019.

Key Team Members - all Dutch

  • Simeon Tienpont - Founder, Principal
  • Eelco Blok - Managing Director
  • Carolijn Brouwer - Helm
  • Peter van Niekerk - Sailing Team Leader
  • Dirk Kramers - Head Designer

Mystery Challenges - none materialized

Updated 8 February 2020   On the day the late entry period closed - 30 November 2018 - Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron announced that they had received eight (!) additional challenges by the deadline. Five of them were not serious enough to be accepted, begging the question of why RNZYS announced them.  Three challenges were accepted in December: Malta Altus Challenge, Stars+Stripes Team USA and DutchSail. Malta and DutchSail withdrew. Stars+Stripes is still listed as a challenger but will not race in the April 2020 Cagliari AC World Series and will be disqualified under the Protocol rules. 

Yachts - AC75 Foiling Monohulls

AC75 foiling monohull for 2021 America's Cup

AC75 foiling monohull for 2021 America's Cup

Calendar & Competition Format

Updated 5 February 2020 The America's Cup Match and the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series will be one-on-one match racing. The racing format for America's Cup World Series and the Christmas Regatta will also be all match racing.

America's Cup Match       6-21 March 2021

Match racing. The defender, Emirates Team New Zealand, is automatically in the Match and will face the winner of the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series. The winner is the first to score seven points (one point per race win). The winner becomes the new defender.

Prada Cup  Challenger Selection Series - January-February 2021 

Updated 5 February 2020 Match racing. The Prada Cup finals will be first to seven points, with one point per race win.  The Challenger Selection Series will be organised by COR36 representing the Challenger of Record. Dates and competition format have not been announced but are likely to be:  Round Robin in January to eliminate one challenger. The remaining two challengers will sail a first-to-seven-points final in mid-February 2021.

America's Cup World Series - 2019/2020

Updated 5 February 2020  - The America's Cup World Series is organised by COR36 representing the Challenger of Record.

The ACWS originally was planned to begin in the second half of 2019. In late November 2018, one regatta was announced for October 2019 in Cagliari, site of Luna Rossa's base, but it was cancelled due to problems with the design of the "supplied equipment" foil arms. The original design failed structural tests and a new design wasn't  tested until late March 2019. 

In 2020 there will be three ACWS regattas: Cagliari, Portsmouth and Auckland.

The Protocol anticipated several more challengers and would have awarded important advantages to challengers based on their ACWS results. With only three challengers, the AC World Series has been reduced to a series of three interesting exhibition events.  

America's Cup World Series - Cagliari, Sardinia - 22-26 April 2020

Details here.

Updated 8 February 2020

  • Organized by COR36, representing the Challenger of Record
  • Presented by Prada
  • Defender and three challengers, match racing
  • Stars+Stripes will not race and will be disqualified as a challenger

America's Cup World Series - Portsmouth - 3-7 June 202

Updated 8 February 2020 

  • Organized by the Defender, following a Protocol change
  • Presented by Emirates Airlines
  • Defender and three challengers, match racing

Once the AC World Series lost any value for the Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series, none of the challengers wanted this event, including Portsmouth-based INEOS Team UK. The Defender threatened to boycott the Cagliari event, and used that threat to negotiate a Protocol change, giving the Defender the right to organize the regatta and their title sponsor, Emirates, the naming rights.

Christmas Race and AC World Series Auckland - 17-20 December 2020

Updated 8 February 2020 - Originally planned as a standalone event the Christmas Race has been combined with the Auckland AC World Series. All four competitors will race - the defender and the three challengers. The format has not been announced but will probably be match racing. The Christmas Regatta and the Auckland AC World Series will be organised by COR36 representing the Challenger of Record.

Important Dates

Updated 8 February 2020 

  • June 30, 2018: 
    • Entries for Challengers closed (late entries pay $1million late fee)
    • Final date for changes to the AC75 Class Rule by ETNZ and Luna Rossa. (V1.1 of the Rule)
    • Details of supplied Foil Control System for AC75
    • Details of supplied Foil Arms
    • Competitor website guidelines released
    • Competitor app guidelines released
  • August 31, 2018:
    • Specific race course area confirmed
    • Drawing package for one design mast 
  • November 30, 2018:  Deadline for late entries (with $1 million late fee)
  • March 31, 2019: 
    • Boat 1 can be launched (It is likely that no team will launch until several weeks later.)
    • Deadline for COR to announce venues (and dates?) of 2019 ACWS Regattas (NONE)
    • Brand manual released
  • Second half 2019:  Two ACWS Regattas.  (CANCELLED)
  • November 30, 2019:  Deadline for COR to announce venues (and dates?) of 2020 ACWS Regattas
  • February 1, 2020: Boat 2 can be launched  (NONE LAUNCHED, all teams delayed)
  • 2020 (dates to be announced): three ACWS Regattas, likely to be Florida, Newport, Asia
    April:  Cagliari (details here)
    June:  Portsmouth (details here)
    December: Auckland (details here)
  • December 10-20, 17-20, 2020: Christmas regatta (Combined with ACWS Auckland)
  • January-February 2021:  Prada Cup Challenger Selection Series
    January:  Round Robin among three challengers to eliminate one
    February:  first-to-seven-points Prada Cup Finals
  • March 2021: 36th America's Cup Match      first-to-seven-points

Understanding the Protocol

The Protocol sets out the rules for the 2021 America's Cup.

  • How to enter
  • Competition format - Challenger Selection Series / America's Cup Match
  • Crew nationality - 100% of the crew must be "nationals." At least three must be citizens.
  • Yachts to be raced - AC75 foiling monohulls.
  • Dispute resolution - CoR and Defender take decisions. No "challenger committee."
  • Commercial terms - Title Sponsor Liaison group = Defender and CoR 

More details

How and Why New Zealand Won in 2017

2017 - Bermuda - Return of the Kiwis

Starts, Smarts and Speed, from the September 2017 Seahorse Magazine

If 2013 looked like "The Empire Strikes Back" with Larry Ellison as Darth Vader, 2017 brought Pete Burling as Luke Skywalker in "Return of the Kiwis." Emirates Team New Zealand dominated Oracle in the 2017 America's Cup Match with better designed foils, better control systems, and more efficient energy generation from their "cyclor" grinders. Oh, and they sailed better, too.   

The "AC50's" in Bermuda were the smallest yachts with the smallest crews ever to race in the America's Cup. While they lacked the grandeur usually associated with the America's Cup, they were clearly the fastest boat ever on a race course. 

Lessons from America's Cup History for 2021

The AC75 foiling "monohulls" to be used in the 2021 America's Cup will accelerate the already rapid phase of modern race yacht technology that began in 1988. In the history of sailing, there have been three major technical advances that increased speed and the ability to point higher. 

  • 17th century - the Bermuda rig  A shipwrecked Dutch sailor, living in Bermuda, used a fore-and-aft rigged triangular sail to point higher into the prevailing southwesterly winds and tack efficiently between the island's north shore and the nearby reefs. Fast "Bermuda sloops" were favored by pirates and later by Civil War blockade runners. 
  • 19th century - multihulls Nathanael Greene Herreshoff, then 28 years old, won the Centennial Regatta in New York in 1876 with his catamaran "Amaryllis." Catamarans were promptly banned from yacht racing. Dennis Conner's "Stars and Stripes" catamaran turned the 1988 America's Cup into the "mismatch" against New Zealand's "KZ-1" monohull. Stars and Stripes also sported a hard wingsail. The last three America's Cup matches - in 2010, 2013 and 2017 - were all sailed in multihulls.
  • 21st century - foiling Although foiling motorboats were tested early in the 20th century and a foiling monohull sailboat was successfully demonstrated in 1958, it took the "outside-the-box" thinking of Emirates Team New Zealand to bring foiling to the America's Cup in San Francisco in 2013. Even though the 2021 America's Cup will be sailing in "monohulls" they will be foilers rather than displacement boats, so the tradition of speed will continue to evolve. Foiling is faster than floating.

1958 to 1987 - the Twelve Metre Era

When the New York Yacht Club and the Royal Yacht Squadron resurrected the America's Cup after 31 years with no competition, they continued the tradition of racing displacement yachts with soft sails, albeit in much smaller yachts than had previously raced. While the ten America's Cup Matches sailed in 12 metre yachts are recalled with well-deserved affection and nostalgia, they were not close contests: During that era of "best of seven" competitions, the winners took 40 races, the losers only six. The only close score was Australia II's historic 4-3 victory over Liberty to wrest the Cup from the New York Yacht Club after 132 years.

1987 - Australia Fails to Defend in Perth

The Royal Perth Yacht Club tried to follow the example of the New York Yacht Club, holding defender trials. This led to four Australian syndicates battling each other for the right to defend, and competing with their yacht club for sponsorship money. With money and effort diluted in the defender trials, Kookaburra III was defeated 4-0 by San Diego Yacht Club's Stars and Stripes 87.  When Team New Zealand won the Cup in San Diego in 1995, the RNZYS declared that there would be no defender trials. After 1995, every defender followed this practice of concentrating resources on a single defender team. 

1988 - San Diego - Catamaran vs Big Boat Mismatch

Michael Fay of New Zealand caught  Dennis Conner's Sail America Foundation and the San Diego Yacht Club by surprise when he challenged in a 90 foot monohull. Telling the SDYC to "read the deed," he was completely in his rights not to wait for SDYC to sort out how, when and where they wanted to hold the next defense. But he did not read the Deed of Gift carefully enough himself, since the DoG gives the holder of the Cup the right to defend in "... any one yacht or vessel..."  and SDYC came with the first ever catamaran to race in an America's Cup Match. Stars and Stripes had a hard wing sail with the same basic design that Oracle would use in 22 years later in their grudge match against Alinghi.

1995 - Team New Zealand Overpowers the USA in San Diego

Competing US defender candidates diluted the American defense. A focussed and disciplined Team New Zealand dominated with their Black Magic yachts.

2003 - Alinghi's Kiwis beat Team New Zealand's Kiwis in Auckland

When Sir Peter Blake left Team New Zealand, so did other team members - several to the One World syndicate in Seattle and the heart of the sailing team to Alinghi in Switzerland. The tycoons of the early twentieth century manned their giant yachts with crews of Scandinavian fishermen. But now tycoons began recruiting internationally for the afterguard and other key roles on board.

2007 - Valencia: 12 Teams in Floating Monohulls

We could well see floating monohulls again some day, but for now the 2007 America's Cup will mark the end of the floating monohull era. Alinghi mounted a masterful campaign to defend the Cup against ETNZ, winning 5-2. With crews of 16, lead keel bulbs weighing 20 tons and spinnakers the size of a tennis court, the "America's Cup Class" yachts continued the style of match racing that devotees of the 12 meter yachts enjoy.

2010 - Valencia: Billionaires Duel in Monster Multihulls

The 1988 Deed of Gift match showed that the only winning strategy was to build the fastest boat allowed by the deed. That meant multihulls - a trimaran for Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing of Golden Gate Yacht Club and a catamaran for Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinghi of the Société Nautique de Genève. Both yachts were 90 feet on the waterline and over 100 feet overall. Oracle's giant wing sail was the difference - the Swiss yacht was simply overpowered.

2013 - San Francisco - The Empire Strikes Back - Oracle's Comeback

The AC72 Class Rule prohibited movable control surfaces on the foils, but ETNZ figured out how to control angle of attack and lift, by raking cleverly shaped foils fore and aft. Sadly for ETNZ, Oracle caught up in the design battle and Oracle's international sailors mastered how to race their boat after first falling behind 1-8 in the duel on San Francisco Bay

2017 - Return of the Kiwis

ETNZ played the lone wolf and won, dominating Oracle by winning eight races to Oracle's one. They refused to join the other five teams in the "Framework Agreement." They thought outside the box, committed early to "cyclors" instead of grinders, and kept it secret until it was too late for the other teams to respond. They were the last team to arrive in Bermuda. They were still developing their boat and learning to sail it. Their strategy paid off!

2021 - Foiling Monohulls - the Result of 30 Years of America's Cup Lessons

  • 1987 - a defender selection series will dilute the defender's chances of winning
  • 1988 - multihulls are much faster than (displacement) monohulls
  • 1995 - see 1987
  • 2010 - multihulls are fast, big is beautiful, even if the skullduggery was ugly
  • 2013 - keep your secrets secret; continuous development never ends
  • 2017 - bold design decisions and disciplined preparation can win the day
  • 2021 - How will the bold decision to invent a completely new type of yacht play out?
                What benefits will a strict crew nationality rule bring? 

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