Kiwis accept Royal Yacht Squadron’s America’s Cup challenge

Britain’s Royal Yacht Squadron Racing has been confirmed as the Challenger of Record for the 37th America’s Cup, meaning it will help determine the rules and location for the next edition of sailing’s marquee regatta.

The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron made the announcement on Friday in Auckland. Royal Yacht Squadron Racing presented its challenged two days earlier, immediately after Emirates Team New Zealand successfully defended the Auld Mug with a 7-3 victory over Italy’s Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team on the Hauraki Gulf.

“It is great to once again have the RYSR involved, given they were the first yacht club that presented this trophy over 170 years ago, which really started the legacy of the America’s Cup,” Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron commodore Aaron Young said in a statement.

It was the Royal Yacht Squadron that put up the 100 Pound Cup in 1851 for a race around the Isle of Wight. The schooner America, representing the New York Yacht Club, beat a fleet of British boats to claim the trophy, which was later renamed the America’s Cup.

While a protocol is expected within eight months, the two sides have already agreed that the AC75 foiling monohull, which made its debut in Auckland, will continue to be used for the next two America’s Cup cycles, with teams needing to agree as a condition of entry.

Teams will be restricted to building only one new AC75 for the next event. Teams were allowed to build two of the high-tech yachts for the 36th America’s Cup.

The defender and challenger also agreed to impose a stricter nationality rule.

The two sides are considering different options for the venue for the next match and will have a decision within six months.

There have been reports that Emirates Team New Zealand could take the next defense offshore, either to the highest bidder in the Middle East, Asia or Europe, or even have a one-off match in England against INEOS Team UK, which is backed by the Royal Yacht Squadron Racing.

Just minutes after Emirates Team New Zealand won the America’s Cup, , the government took the unusual step of offering cash to keep the team together and the racing at home for the next match. It didn’t say how much but it’s likely to be several million dollars up front and much more later on.

In a sport dominated by billionaires, the New Zealand government wants to stay one step ahead of other teams eager to poach talent, and of moves that could see races held in another country.

INEOS Team UK is owned by billionaire Jim Ratcliffe. Luna Rossa is backed by billionaire Patrizio Bertelli, CEO of the Prada fashion house. Luna Rossa was the Challenger of Record for the 36th America’s Cup, but it clashed with Emirates Team New Zealand over various aspects of the regatta.

The defender and challenger said they will seek cost reductions to try to attract more challengers. There were only three challengers for the 36th America’s Cup. Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team beat INEOS Team UK, headed by Sir Ben Ainslie, in the Prada Cup final. The New York Yacht Club’s American Magic was eliminated after the Prada Cup round robins.

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Follow Bernie Wilson on Twitter at http://twitter.com/berniewilson

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