America's Cup 2013: Rules
Protocol for the 2013 America's Cup

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The Protocol Governing the 2013 America's Cup

Related Pages: Overall Rules | Deed of Gift | Protocol | AC72 Class Rule | Racing Rules | Administration

On This Page: Agreement | Amendments | Read the Protocol

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The Protocol:

The Protocol is the core document that establishes the major features of the 2013 America's Cup.  It is a record of the terms that the Defender/Trustee and the Challenger of Record reached by the mutual consent process under the Deed of Gift.  In this arrangement, the teams negotiated the location, timing, format, yachts, and other central points about the upcoming America's Cup Match.  Also included were regulations and procedures for the regatta, plus internal organizational matters and administration.  All the other documents specific to the 2013 America's Cup stem from provisions of the Protocol, including the Class Rule and the Racing Rules.

Multiple challenges are permitted under the Protocol, and any additional challengers or Candidates for the Defense agree to be bound by the 2013 Protocol, too, as a condition of entry.

For 2013, while the AC72 Class rule describes the boats, the Protocol contains the limits on the number of boats a team may build, also limiting the number of wings, daggerboards, and sails.  The Restricted Sailing Periods are also established in the Protocol and not the Class Rule.

Dates, times, and racing formats for the Louis Vuitton Cup and the America's Cup Match are laid out via the Protocol, and not the Racing Rules of Sailing for the America's Cup (RRSAC), though some of the terms will show up in various forms in the Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions. 

The 2013 Protocol also created the America's Cup Event Authority (ACEA), America's Cup Race Management (ACRM), and the America's Cup Jury.  The financial terms of the Cup including entry fees and division of any excess funds are controlled by the Protocol.

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Amending the Protocol:

The Protocol was initially negotiated between Challenger of Record (Club Nautico di Roma and their representative Mascalzone Latino) and the Defender/Trustee (Golden Gate YC and their representative Oracle Racing), officially signed in September, 2010.  Until additional challenges were accepted, the two teams were free to amend the Protocol if they agreed.  Once additional teams were accepted, amending the Protocol required consent of the Defender, the Challenger of Record (COR), and a majority of the officially entered teams (referred to as the Competitor Forum, excluding the Defender and COR).  This arrangement for 2013 gives the Defender and COR veto power over amendments, but not the ability to make unilateral changes.

Inevitably the voting lines of the amendment process set up a particular balance of power among the teams.  Mascalzone Latino withdrew from the regatta, with the succession per the Protocol giving the title to Royal Swedish YC/Artemis Racing, who preceded Royal New Zealand YS/Emirates Team New Zealand in order of submission by a margin said to be a matter of seconds.  RSYC remained the Challenger of Record until they were eliminated in the Louis Vuitton Cup Semi-Finals, and RNZYS then assumed the title.

For 2013 it has been a source of friction that the COR outranks the remaining challengers in modifying the Protocol, and questions naturally arise from other teams as to whether the actions of the COR are in the best interest of the Challengers as a whole.  Previous America's Cup cycles sometimes used a Challenger Commission or a Challenger of Record Committee to manage the Challengers' interests in matters with the Defender/Trustee, sometimes even in the initial negotiation of the Protocol.  Experience this time around suggests that a more democratic and representative structure is probably preferable in the future in terms of protecting perceptions of fairness.

The Protocol has been amended 18 times as of late July, 2013.  Major changes have included changing the financial requirements, moving certain deadlines such as those for launching and racing the AC72 yachts, and matters involving who may vote on amendments.  Numerous small changes have involved correcting or clarifying language and adjusting minor dates.  See below for summary of the amendments.

Read the Protocol
Latest versions:
Read The Protocol Governing the 2013 America's Cup incorporating amendments 1-18 (pdf)

Earlier versions:

Click here to see Amendments to the Protocol

Click here to hide the Previous Versions

Version:   Description: Date: Link:


    9-Sep-10 Read (pdf)
1   Extended Deadline for AC72 Rule to Oct 15 from Oct 1 30-Sep-10  
2   Changed language "Mast" to "Wing Spar";
Clarified "Two Boat Testing" during AC72 Commissioning Period;
Definition of "Mast";
3   Reduced or delayed entry fees and performance bond requirements;
Added Late Entry Fee;
Replacement Jury appointed by ISAF, not competitors;
Added "Any official" to those not liable for disruption of the event;
Modified non-attendance and failure-to-race penalties;
Modified language for GGYC disclosure in change to regatta schedules or locations;
Clarified list of equipment ACRM will transport for AC45 regattas;
Removed "prospective competitors" from required consultation on yacht handling and transport equipment;
Changed date for require completion of first AC72 yacht;
Changed date permitting sharing of designers, designs, performance data, and equipment between teams;
Modified clothing design requirements for logo;
Wording changes for small errors, and to include ACRM;
Changed priority for distributing surplus funds to include WSTA teams;
Modified date for publishing final RRSAC;
4   Modified dates for publishing 2011 ACWS venues, formats, schedule, and scoring;
Modified dates for AC45 and AC72 handling equipment specifications.
5   Clarified permissive/mandatory Protocol language;
Clarified that a Custom House Registry is not required for yachts under mutual consent;
Clarified language in various mentions of Wings, Spars, and Masts;
Modified acceptable accounting standards;
6   Extended the definition of "Hull" for Constructed-In-Country (CIC) requirements;
Clarified issues relating to modifying hulls in regard to CIC;


  Modified Language;
Allows 3-Person AC Jury for ACWS, Jury Chair can appoint Temporary Members;
Clarified that $200,000 Performance Bond applies to 2011-12 ACWS;
Adjusted Official Period of Each ACWS to span calendar years (2011-12, 2012-13);
Excludes a financially non-compliant competitor from voting on rules;
Modified Requirements for Bank Guarantees separately for both Performance Bonds;
Modified Flag sizes for AC45 Yacht;
8   Removes Performance Bond;
Adds Revenue Definition;
Permits internal AC45 daggerboard case modification;
CNR references changed to COR;
Voting depends on fees paid;
Simple majority unless otherwise specified;
Late entry at terms of GGYC's discretion;
$1.5M performance bonds change to $100K fee;
1M Euro entry fee changed to $200K USD;
Payment dates extended;
Disposition of fines as revenue or donations;
Lowered non-attendance fines;
World Series schedule modified;
AC45 yachts will race until end of 2013 ACWS;
No restriction on second AC45 entry;
Non-America's Cup eligible teams may race in ACWS;
Language related to ACWS and AC72;
AC72 Sailing periods revised, launching dates pushed back;
Dates moved for designer restrictions and data sharing;
Teams may have independent social media presences;
3-Jun-11 Cumulative:
Read (pdf)
9   Reconnaissance exception for AC45 in ACWS Regatta; 13-Aug-11  
10   Jury members not recused for previous mediation on a topic;
ACWS length to 5 days from 9;
Financial audit language;
Logo requirements due date;
11   Language clarified in Wing Limits;
Wing spar extension for AC45;
Non-disparagement requirement;


12   National flag displays;
Helmet livery;
Challenger Selection Format deadline moved to 2012;
13   Some unpaid Entry Fees not disqualifying;
Options for long crew names on clothing;
14   Differentiates between teams that may vote on AC versus ACWS matters;
Changed $200,000 Entry Fee deadline from June to August 2012;
Changed wind measurement height from 6m to 10m above water;
Changed language "Wing Spar" to "Wing";
15   Added rules pertaining to the America's Cup races;
Dropped Courses 3 and 4;
Remove mention of multiple venues;
Sharing of insurance terms;
Changed wind limits for Louis Vuitton C Final and Previous;
Amending LVC dates, interval to America's Cup Match;
Clarified Sailing Day threshold;
Majority of Challengers may amend LVC format if Match changes;
Weight correction in LVC for repairs;
3-Jul-12 A15 Only:
Read (pdf)
16   Louis Vuitton Cup, America's Cup Challenger Series, preferred terms for ACCS; 2-Aug-12 A16 only:
Read (pdf)
17   Permits wind measuring from crane; 11-Apr-13 Cumulative:
Read (pdf)


  Removes penalties for not racing; Removes restrictions on support boats; ACRM may not require cameraman onboard; 26-Jun-13 Cumulative:
Read (pdf)

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Why Have a Protocol?
The Protocol is a recent feature of the America's Cup, an increasingly formal version of agreement between the Challenger and the Defender, but its function is not new.  For much of the New York YC's tenure as Trustee and Defender, the basic terms agreed by the two parties were memorialized in a document call the "Conditions of the Match" spanning several pages, and addressing the major topics such as time, place, courses, format, and rules.  Damaged boats, calling of laydays, the authority of the Race Committee, and other subjects that merit special treatment in the context of the America's Cup were also addressed.  The commercial aspects of the event were much different in that period, and not a significant element of the documents. 

With the advent of multiple challengers, issues gained in complexity, and probably more so did cultural expectations surrounding having rules defined in advance for various scenarios.  Additionally, the various Trustees felt increasing pressure, or at least heard increasing complaint, about any decisions that could be interpreted as being to the advantage of the Defender over the Challengers.  A comprehensive document, agreed on by all entrants and including an equitable means of modification, serves to help defuse some potential conflicts and criticisms. 

The term "Protocol" was first applied in the late 1980's, for its connotation of diplomacy and agreement, to describe the agreements for the 1992 Defense in San Diego.

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