America's Cup:
A Brief History of the Challenger of Record


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First of All, It's The Challenger of Record



Challengers of Record (COR) for the America's Cup since the multiple-challenge COR system began in 1970:
Scroll down or click on year for more information.

Year Original COR   Representative Disposition (and Overall Record)

Entries:

Actual Challenger Representative Match Result
Filed Raced
1970 Royal Sydney YS AUS Gretel II Won challenger selection, raced in America's Cup Match 5 2 Royal Sydney YS Gretel II lost
1974 Royal Thames YC GBR   Resigned; Did not race but conducted challenger regatta 8 2 Royal Perth YC Southern Cross lost
1977 YC d'Hyeres FRA France I Eliminated in challenger Semi-Finals 5 4 Sun City YC Australia lost
1980 YC d'Hyeres FRA France III Eliminated in challenger selection 4 4 Royal Perth YC Australia lost
1983 Royal Sydney YS AUS Advance Eliminated after LVC Round Robin 2; (2-20) record overall 10 7 Royal Perth YC Australia II won
1987 YC Costa Smeralda ITA Azzurra Elected to COR;
Eliminated after LVC Rounds Robin (4-34) record overall
24 13 San Diego YC Stars & Stripes '87 won
1992 Royal Perth YC AUS Challenge Australia Elected to COR; Resigned 1990; Finished last in LVC; (1-20) overall 21 8 Compagnia della Vela di Venezia Il Moro di Venezia V lost
  Challenger of Record Committee Replaced RPYC;          
1995 Challenger of Record Committee     7 Royal NZ YS Black Magic won
2000 New York YC USA Young America Eliminated after LVC Rounds Robin; (16-13) record overall 18 11 YC Punta Ala Luna Rossa lost
2003 YC Punta Ala ITA Luna Rossa Eliminated in LVC Semi-Finals   8 Société Nautique de Genève Alinghi won
2007 Golden Gate YC USA BMW Oracle Racing Eliminated LVC Semi-Finals; (18-8) record overall 11 11 Royal NZ YS Emirates Team
New Zealand
lost
2013 Club Nautico di Roma ITA Mascalzone Latino Resigned 2011; Did not race 13 3 Royal NZ YS Aotearoa lost
  Royal Swedish YC (KSSS) SWE Artemis Racing Succession to COR per Protocol; Eliminated in LVC Semi-Finals; (0-4) record overall          
2017 Hamilton Island YC AUS Team Australia Resigned 2014; Did not race

6

       
  Challenger of Record Committee Replaced HIYC;          

At left in the table is the initial COR yacht club, plus the outcome for the original COR in the selection series.  The Filed and Raced columns list the total number of challenges accepted and the actual number of challengers that participated in the selection series.  At right is the America's Cup challenger ultimately selected to face the defender.


Challenger of Record Concept:

   
 
 

Photo:©2013 ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget
 

Interest in the America’s Cup grew rapidly during the 1960’s, with multiple foreign clubs expressing their desire to challenge.  A casual agreement on who might challenge next, and in what order, was adopted, but proved to be awkward in practice.  When multiple challenges were received for 1970, rather than select one yacht club to compete as challenger in the match, by mutual agreement it was established that several prospective challenger candidates could compete against each other for the right to sail in the America’s Cup match against the Defender.  

This was the first time that candidates from multiple countries vied against each other on the water for the chance to challenge.  In addition to avoiding the precedence issues, it was hoped that having several challenger candidates race in a competitive selection process would help improve challenger performance, much as the New York YC's standard practice of defender trials had done historically.

The Challenger of Record (COR) arrangement, as it has come to be termed, allows one foreign YC to challenge (becoming the initial COR), that Club agreeing to the terms of the match with the defender and subsequently allowing the winner of the challenger selection series to step into the place of the COR.  Prior to 1983, the challengers conducted the challenger selection regatta under their own management and at their own cost.  Starting in 1983, Louis Vuitton sponsored the challenger selection, awarding the Louis Vuitton Cup to the ultimately selected challenger.  Technically, the eventual winner of the challenger selection process becomes the final Challenger of Record, and win or lose in the match, goes down in history as the Challenger for that America’s Cup match. 

Since 1970 there have been 13 matches with multiple challengers, with 12 teams serving as the initial COR.  Including the upcoming 35th Defense of the America's Cup scheduled for 2017, the initial COR has resigned four times; three times also withdrawing from competition (1974, 2013, and 2017); one time remaining a competitor (1992).
 

Year-by-Year Discussion:

1970

Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron holds the distinction of being the first Challenger of Record, and the only one to advance to the America’s Cup match during the Cup cycle in which they served as the COR.

In the 30-day period following the New York Yacht Club’s successful defense in 1967, four clubs submitted challenges for the 1970 match.1 The challenge from Australia’s Royal Sydney YS being the first received, they were asked by the NYYC to conduct the challenger selection trials in cooperation with an international committee overseeing determination of the final challenger.  Two of the four challengers dropped out, leaving the remaining two entries, Baron Marcel Bich’s French syndicate representing Yacht Club d’Hyeres and Frank Packer’s Australian campaign representing the Royal Sydney YS, to race each other in the challenger selection series. Royal Sydney’s Gretel II defeated France 4-0. In the America’s Cup match, Gretel II lost 4-1 to the defender Intrepid.

1974

Royal Thames YC was selected as COR for a 1973 match by the New York YC (NYYC) on the basis that the British club was the first to submit a Notice of Challenge.2  The Royal Thames, as the designated COR, agreed to run the challenger selection series.   In 1971, the Royal Thames convinced the NYYC to postpone the match one year, to 1974, given a difficult economic environment that hampered fundraising efforts among some of the challenger and defender campaigns.  Despite the extension of time, the Royal Thames was unable to continue as a competitor and withdrew prior to the start of racing, but the club honored its commitment to conduct the challenger series.  Baron Bich’s France and Alan Bond’s Southern Cross were the only challengers to race in the selection series.  The Australians beat the French and faced defender Courageous, losing 4-0 in the America’s Cup match.

1977

YC d’Hyeres was the COR.  A total of five challenges were submitted; four clubs raced in the selection series.3  The Challenger of Record's yacht, Baron Bich's France, was eliminated in the semi-finals.  Alan Bond’s 12-Meter Australia, representing Sun City YC, lost to Courageous in the America’s Cup match 4-0.

1980

YC d’Hyeres returned as Challenger of Record. Bich's France was eliminated in the challenger series.  Alan Bond's Australia, representing Royal Perth YC, lost to the defender Freedom, 4-1, in the America's Cup match.

1983

Royal Sydney YS was Challenger of Record.  Louis Vuitton began their sponsorship of the challenger selection series.  Ten challenges were accepted; seven challengers competed for the new "Louis Vuitton Cup."  The COR’s new yacht, Advance, proved unsuccessful, winning just two races in twenty tries.4  Alan Bond’s Australia II, representing Royal Perth YC, became the first challenger to ever win the America’s Cup, beating Liberty 4-3 to take the Cup to Western Australia.

1987

Yacht Club Costa Smeralda became COR after issuing the first Notice of Challenge (NOC) for 1987 on invitation from Royal Perth YC.  A total of 13 challengers, out of the 24 that submitted a NOC, raced in the Louis Vuitton Cup regatta.  YC Costa Smeralda’s Azzurra finished 11th, winning 4 races out of 34 in three Rounds Robin.  The Louis Vuitton Cup winner, San Diego YC, represented by Dennis Conner's Stars&Stripes, took the Cup back to the US after defeating Royal Perth YC’s Kookaburra III 4-0 in the Cup match.

1992

The Royal Perth YC was elected as COR under the terms of the Protocol established for the 1992 America’s Cup.5  Royal Perth named Dr. Stan Reid to head their COR efforts and Ernie Taylor to direct commercial activities.  In 1990, Royal Perth YC resigned the position of COR, though stayed in the regatta as a challenger.  None of the 20 other accepted challengers were willing to take on the responsibility of serving as the new COR. The challengers then voted to create a Challenger of Record Committee (CORC), overseen by a Challenger of Record Executive Board, with representatives from five teams.6  The CORC appointed Dr. Reid as CORC Chairman and Ernie Taylor as Executive Director.  Subsequently, with the challenger fleet shrinking to eight competitors, the CORC changed the Executive Board to include a representative from each challenger.7  

The initial COR, Royal Perth YC’s Challenge Australia, led by Syd Fischer, was eliminated after the three Rounds Robin, finishing last in the standings and winning one race in 21 tries.8  Italy’s Il Moro di Venezia V, representing Compagnia della Vela di Venezia, lost 4-1 to Bill Koch’s America3 in the America’s Cup Match.

1995

Yacht Club de France de Sete (FRA) and Monte Real Club de Yates Bayona (ESP) both submitted challenges to San Diego YC as America3 crossed the finish line to win the 1992 America’s Cup.  The 1995 Protocol, issued by previous America’s Cup trustees New York YC and Royal Perth YC, along with San Diego YC, provided a 180-day period for challengers to to submit their NOC to SDYC.9  Again a Challenger of Record Committee served in the COR’s capacity.10  In the America’s Cup Match, Royal New Zealand YS’s Black Magic defeated San Diego YC’s Young America by 5-0 to take the trophy to Auckland.

2000

Royal New Zealand YS chose the New York YC to make a "hip-pocket challenge" and become the sole initial COR, dismantling the Challenger of Record Committee system used in 1992 and 1995. “The CORC was fairly new, and not necessarily effective,” Richard Green, Chairman of Team New Zealand’s Board of Directors, told Sailing World magazine at the time, adding that “Sometimes it’s tough to decide issues when many interests are involved.” 

Nevertheless, if the initial COR chose at some point to resign, the Protocol for the 2000 America’s Cup gave the challengers the right either to form a COR Committee or to chose a single challenger as a new COR.  Incidentally, the Protocol was, for the first time, a document agreed and signed by the defending Club and the Challenger of Record.

NYYC’s entry PACT 2000 (Young America), despite being an early favorite, struggled to meet expectations and suffered a number of setbacks, most notably nearly breaking their boat in half during the second Round Robin of the LVC, almost sinking.11  Young America was eliminated after the Rounds Robin, placing 7th after winning 16 of 30 races. The America’s Cup challenger, Italy’s Prada, representing YC Punta Ala, was defeated by defender RNZYS’s Team New Zealand 5-0.

2003

YC Punta Ala submitted a hip-pocket challenge and became COR for the 2003 America’s Cup.  Similar to 2000, the Protocol for the 2003 America’s Cup permitted YC Punta Ala the option to resign its position as Initial COR, in which case the accepted challengers could either form a Challenger of Record Committee (CORC) or else name a single competitor as COR, with a CORC being the default if agreement could not be reached. 

YC’s Punta Ala’s challenger, Luna Rossa, found themselves off pace in the Rounds Robin, released their designer in the ensuing frustration, and made substantial modifications to their ACC yacht, but was eliminated in the LVC Semi-Finals.  The final challenger, Switzerland’s Société Nautique de Genève, represented by Alinghi, beat Team New Zealand 5-0 in the America’s Cup match and took the trophy to Europe.

2007

The Swiss defender SNG chose USA’s Golden Gate YC, represented by BMW Oracle Racing, as COR for the 2007 America’s Cup.  Additionally, a Challenger Commission was created with representatives from each foreign competitor.  The Challenger Commission and the Defender would appoint some of the officials, such as the Regatta Director, and would also decide the fine details of the challenger selection regatta format.  Dispute resolution was assigned to an America’s Cup Jury, with five members named by the Challenger Commission12 and the Defender.  The COR alone, however, retained certain powers that the other challengers did not, including approval of amendments to the Protocol along with the Defender.  Challenger of Record BMW Oracle Racing went 17-3 in the two Rounds Robin, but was eliminated 5-1 in the LVC Semi-Finals by Italy’s Luna Rossa.  The eventual 2007 Challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand, lost 5-2 to Société Nautique de Genève’s defender Alinghi.

2009-2010

In anticipation of a match scheduled for 2009, Société Nautique de Genève selected a newly-created Spanish entity to serve as COR, accepting a hip-pocket challenge from Club Náutico Español de Vela as Alinghi won the Cup on July 1, 2007.

Believing that CNEV was not a legitimate club under the America’s Deed of Gift, Golden Gate YC filed their own Notice of Challenge on July 11.  GGYC’s challenge was uninvited, outside of the SNG-CNEV Protocol agreement, seeking to become COR themselves.  SNG began accepting additional challenges under their Protocol the following week.  GGYC brought the matter before the New York State Unified Court System, which decided that CNEV was not a valid yacht club, that the protocol which CNEV had signed did not control the event, and that as a result GGYC was the proper COR. 

SNG and GGYC could not find common ground for a head-to-head match under mutual consent, let alone a multiple challenger regatta, and were forced to face each other on the terms prescribed by Deed of Gift.  The match was held February 12 and 14, 2010, in Valencia, Spain, with Golden Gate YC’s representative BMW Oracle Racing sailing their trimaran, USA-17, to a 2-0 win over the defending catamaran Alinghi 5 representing SNG.13

2013

GGYC accepted a hip-pocket challenge from Italy’s Club Nautico di Roma, represented by Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino team.  Eleven additional teams were accepted by the early challenge deadline of March 31, 2011.14  Club Nautico di Roma resigned as COR on May 11, 2011, with Onorato stating that Mascalzone had not been able to raise the funds they believed were needed to be competitive in the upcoming event.  Royal Swedish YC (Kungliga Svenska Segel Sällskapet), represented by Artemis Racing, succeeded to the position of COR under the 2013 Protocol by virtue of being the first additional challenge received by GGYC. 

Artemis Racing was one of the three challengers to race in the 2013 LVC, launching a new AC72 with barely enough time to prepare for the Louis Vuitton Cup Semi-Finals, where they lost to Luna Rossa by 4-0.  The ultimate 2013 challenger, Emirates Team New Zealand, representing RNZYS, took defender GGYC’s Oracle Team USA to 19 races, losing 9-8, keeping the America’s Cup in the US.

2017

Golden Gate YC accepted a hip-pocket challenge from Australia’s Hamilton Island YC as COR.  Iain Murray, the 2013 Regatta Director, left the America’s Cup Race Management organization to become CEO of the Hamilton Island effort, named Team Australia.   The challenger entry period opened June 9, 2014, running for two months. 

In mid-July Hamilton Island YC’s board decided to file a Notice of Resignation, to take effect in 90-days as provided under the 2017 Protocol.  The stated motivation for HIYC’s intended withdrawal was their belief that the form of the event as it had evolved would not meet the expectations which inspired their original decision to serve as COR, particularly in regard to commercial viability for challengers. 

Per the Protocol at the time, the COR title was to pass to the next additional challenge as received in chronological order.15  In mid-August, Golden Gate YC publicly announced that five additional challenges that had been officially accepted, but did not reveal the timing of the submittals that would clarify the identity of the club next in line to become the COR.16  Following meetings in September, by agreement of the challengers, and with the consent of the Defender, the Protocol was amended to replace the single COR for 2017 with a Challenger of Record Committee (CORC). 17

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Notes:

[1] Notices of Challenge were received from Royal Dorset YC of Great Britain, YC d'Hyeres (France), Royal YC of Greece (Greece), Royal Sydney YS (Australia). In July 1968, a second Australian group, the “All States 12-Metre Syndicate,” entered the fray, but it disbanded by 1969.

[2] Additional entries for 1974 were received from Canada, Australia (two entries), France (three entries), and Italy. 

[3] Sun City YC (AUS), Royal Sydney YS (AUS), YC d’Hyeres (FRA), Royal Göteborg YC (SWE).

[4] Advance was skippered by Iain Murray, 24 years old at the time.

[5] Royal Perth was nominated from the pool of challenges received within the 30-day period after San Diego YC won the September 1988 America’s Cup match against Mercury Bay Boating Club, the first "Deed of Gift" match in Cup history. 

[6] The CORC Executive Board at first consisted of five of the challenging clubs: Royal Sydney YS (AUS), Mercury Bay Boating Club (NZL), Nippon Ocean Racing Club (JPN), Compagnia della Vela (ITA), and Stenungsbaden YC (SWE).

[7] Nine of the 21 challengers for 1992 dropped out after failing to post a required $150,000 Letter of Credit, while other prospective teams failed to show in San Diego due to various causes. 

[8] Challenge Australia beat their countrymen on Spirit of Australia.

[9] The next match was to be raced beginning “approximately” May 1, 1995.

[10] From available records, it appears that there was not an individual team named as COR. 

[11] The NYYC entry was well-funded, embraced an ambitious technology program, and was skippered by Ed Baird, who would later helm the Swiss team Alinghi to victory in the 2007 America's Cup match.  After Young America’s first ACC yacht broke in half, they completed the Rounds Robin sailing their second ACC yacht.

[12] Those reading closely will realize that significantly this power to appoint Jury members is shared to the entire Challenger Commission and not withheld for the COR alone, as previously.

[13] This was the second "Deed of Gift" match in Cup history.

[14] Several accepted challengers soon dropped out unable to meet financial requirements, leaving eight entries remaining in June, 2011.  Luna Rossa was permitted late entry at the challenger’s discretion in October, 2011, to represent Circolo della Vela Sicilia.  Only Luna Rossa, Artemis Racing, and Team New Zealand competed in the Louis Vuitton Cup.

[15] See Article 14.2 of The Protocol Governing the 35th America’s Cup.

[16] Though not officially announced, at the press event in London in September, 2014, Italy's Luna Rossa was tacitly acknowledged as the next team in line for the COR role under the original 2017 Protocol terms.  It is generally perceived that instead the Italians promoted the idea of returning to a COR Committee.

[17] See Article 14.3 of The Protocol Governing the 35th America’s Cup, as revised by Amendment 2.5.1.

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Historical Notes:
Previous to 1970 the NYYC agreed several times during the 12-Meter, J-Class, and earlier eras that the single challenging club could test multiple boats, substituting the yacht of the challenger's choice to race against the defender. Allowing the challenger an option to swap yachts, however, involved no change of the challenging club or country.

Initial Challengers of Record by country: Australia 4, Italy 3, France 2, USA 2, Sweden 1, Great Britain 1.
 


--Robert Kamins and R. Steven Tsuchiya for CupInfo/©2014 CupInfo.com

Robert and Steve, with Diane Swintal, are co-authors of the book Winging It about the 2013 America's Cup.


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