Emirates Team New Zealand have rejected a framework agreement reached by their 35th America’s Cup rivals.
The agreement, announced at a press conference in London this week, would lock in the existing class of foiling catamarans, lower costs for potential new syndicates to enter the America’s Cup and narrow the downtime between cycles.
However, New Zealand, who were not present at this week’s press conference at the House of Garrard, did not sign the agreement, which would be moot if they were to win this summer’s Cup on the Great Sound.
The Kiwis said they prefer to stick with tradition as spelled out in the Deed of Gift, the document that governs the competition for the oldest trophy in international sport. “Emirates Team New Zealand believe the future America’s Cup format is to be decided by the Defender and Challenger of Record as it has historically been,” the team said in a written statement.
Traditionally, whenever the America’s Cup changes hands, the new defender takes some time to negotiate the format and class of boats to be used in the next regatta with the Challenger of Record, which represents the interests of all the challengers.
There is no Challenger of Record for the 35th America’s Cup after Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club dropped out early in the cycle and was replaced by a committee of the remaining challengers.
Signing the agreement were Oracle Team USA, the two-times defending champions, SoftBank Team Japan, Groupama Team France, Artemis Racing and Land Rover BAR.
The Kiwis have been at odds with the America’s Cup Event Authority since the latter switched the America’s Cup Qualifiers from Auckland to Bermuda, resulting in the syndicate losing millions of dollars in funding from the New Zealand government.
Team New Zealand took its case to an arbitration panel and has reportedly won, which could lead to an award of millions of dollars from the ACEA, who have yet to announce the panel’s deliberations.
Both sides also clashed over the controversial amendment of the class rule for the next America’s Cup, which led to the withdrawal of Luna Rossa Challenge, from Italy.
It was the first time in Cup history that a class rule has been altered in midstream.