Mercedes boss Wolff hungry for America's Cup success

Mercedes–AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team CEO Toto Wolff believes the sailing and motorsport syndicates will both benefit from the new America's Cup joint venture.

Mercedes–AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team CEO Toto Wolff had minimal involvement in his organisation’s contribution to the Ineos Team UK Challenge for the 36th America’s Cup.

That was until he he watched footage of the British AC75 struggling to get airborne during the Christmas Cup regatta in New Zealand last December.

Although on holiday with his family, the agonising plight of Ben Ainslie and his crew out on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf caught Wolff’s full attention.

“The boat wouldn’t go out of the water properly – and it was really annoying to see that,” he recalls.

When Mercedes engineers got involved in troubleshooting the sailing team’s problems during a break in the racing over the Christmas period, their input triggered a remarkable transformation of the British team’s performance.

When their boat came out of the shed in the new year it was firing on all four cylinders and capable of stable flight. Ainslie’s men suddenly found they could execute complex manoeuvres with panache and began immediately to win races.

The reinvigorated team dominated the round robin sections of the challenger selection series to secure the automatic spot the Prada Cup final series, although they ultimately lost out to the superior performance of the Italian Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli AC75.

“When our team got involved in the troubleshooting, we applied the same kind of tools and processes that we would deploy if we had an aerodynamic problem [in Formula 1],” Wolff explained.

“I think it's never down to one factor, but in the end, it helped to lift the boat out of the water – maybe not quick enough to win the Cup, but much better, not embarrassing anyone.”

Now the Mercedes Formula 1 team – which Wolff owns one third of along with Daimler AMG and Ineos Britannia owner Jim Ratcliffe – will be dramatically more involved in Ainslie’s third attempt to win the America’s Cup.

Last week Wolff was front and centre at the announcement that Ineos Britannia – the British America’s Cup Challenge led by Ainslie and owned by Ratcliffe as part of his Ineos Sport initiative (which also includes topflight sports teams across football (soccer), cycling, and running) – would be a joint venture with the highly successful Mercedes Formula 1 team.

Although only just announced, the relationship has been in place for several months now and the campaign is fully up and running. Wolff said the team’s Applied Science division in Brackley, England will soon have around 50 people working on the Ineos Britannia AC37 project.

“We are slowly ramping it up,” he said. “But it is less a question of the sheer amount of resource and more about [asking] where can you deploy intellectual property and know-how from Formula 1 into sailing.”

Formula 1 is universally recognised as the benchmark of sporting professionalism, innovation, and technical excellence. It is easy, therefore, to see what Ainslie’s sailing team will gain from the relationship. According to Wolff, there are benefits to be had too for the Formula 1 team from applying itself to the quest to win sailing’s most technologically advanced and expensive prize.

“It doesn't get any bigger than then the challenge of winning the America's Cup as the Challenger of Record.”

Wolff said he saw the America’s Cup competition as ‘the most challenging of all racing, the pinnacle, comparable with Formula 1’, but added that the allocation of resources to the Cup project from the team’s Applied Sciences division ‘is not in the pursuit of margin’.

“It is more in the pursuit of learning [and] of diversification for the benefit of Formula One,” he explained.

“We want to work with people that want to break records or win championships on land, sea, air, and space. It’s a great new project for engineers who have earned their laurels in Formula 1 but [now] want to look at something different.”

It’s worth noting at this point that the Applied Science division was created as a way of retaining the Formula 1 team’s existing staff and resources which they are unable to utilise due to the $140 million budget cap imposed on Formula 1 teams this season.

The cap will be decreased by a further five million dollars over each of the next two seasons. What better way to keep those multiple race winning designers and other expert staff engaged than a fresh new a d exciting challenge like the America’s Cup?

“The benefit is we retain the capability in house, [without the risk of it] going elsewhere within the industry or outside,” Wolff commented.

“We have had situations where engineers said: ‘We've done seven years and [won] seven world championships. Where's the next challenge?’.

“Well, it doesn't get any bigger than then the challenge of winning the America's Cup as the Challenger of Record. You are the underdog – being anything else than the Defender and you are the underdog – so you need to do an even better job. People throughout the departments have said: ‘This is a nice challenge which we would like to take up for the next three or four years.”

Wolff firmly believes there will be learnings along the way from the America’s Cup design process that can be deployed in Formula One.

“We are often too narrow minded in our little microcosmos,” he said. “When I started to read the rulebook of America's Cup and looked at the commercial background, it was like being back at school. It's an activity that is so competitive that you need all your cognitive and intellectual concentration. It takes you out of your comfort zone and that becomes an advantage for Formula 1.”

“We want to work with people that want to break records or win championships on land, sea, air, and space.”

Other Formula 1 teams – like Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin – are reported to be following suit with their own version of the Mercedes Applied Science division. Red Bull Racing is rumoured to have partnered with the yet to be announced America’s Cup Challenge from the two-time AC winning Swiss syndicate Alinghi.

From Wolff’s standpoint these moves are a logical progression for Formula 1 teams given the sport’s current landscape.

“I'm always keen to learn from other sports leagues,” he said. “The most developed American sports leagues, the NBA and the NFL, have diversified – into real estate, into the hospitality business (by the sheer fact that they have in a stadium). I think for us, the logical next step is diversifying into engineering.

“We've created all this IP [intellectual property] that we have never deployed on any other vehicle than a racing car. We have never monetized any of the IP that exists here – and you're talking of billions of spend on technology in Formula 1. So that's why it sounds pretty logical that other teams are looking at that space.”

Presented this way the Ineos Britannia America’s Cup partnership seems like a true win-win scenario for the sailing and motorsport teams.

However, Wolff does sound a word of caution that the yachting side project must not be allowed to distract the Mercedes organisation from its primary goal of continuing to dominate in Formula 1.

“We need to make sure that we are a contributing partner with the same ambition than we have in Formula 1 racing, but without distracting any of the two activities.,” he said.

“We don't want to read the headline in three years that since we started sailing, we haven't been winning on the road that much.”

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Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team chief technical officer James Allison shares his thoughts on challenging for the America’s Cup with Ineos Britannia

The renowned British designer brings a wealth of experience in high-performance sport, having played a key role in the creation of 13 Formula 1 Constructors’ Championship winning cars.

Prior to this week’s partnership announcement from Ineos Britannia and the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team, America’s Cup fans could have been forgiven for not knowing the name James Allison.

However, the British designer’s skills and expertise have earned him legend status in Formula 1, and now he is set to make his mark on the America’s Cup world as his chief technical officer role at the all-conquering Formula 1 team expands to include the Ineos Britannia AC37 challenge.

Allison – who has described the opportunity to be involved in the British America’s Cup campaign as ‘mouth-watering’ – sat down with a small group of motorsports and sailing journalists earlier this week to talk about what lies ahead.

Here are the highlights of the Q&A:

Can you give an indication of where you think F1 expertise is particularly applicable to the challenge of building a boat fast enough to win the America’s Cup?

First off, I think it is worth pointing out that the engineers in America’s Cup – the people who have made that their lives – are very fine engineers and they are working on impressive stuff.

Traditionally they work in a championship that grows up to a crescendo - has its fight on the water and then sort of subsides. So they have this different business model to Formula 1 which this ongoing churn.

The fine detail of the hydrodynamics and the aerodynamics - the numerical optimisation that goes on - this stuff is very impressive. We can hold our end up – but we don’t necessarily transform their world.

But we have definitely got capable engineers who can join that party on an equal footing and hopefully help swell the numbers.

Probably, areas that are harder for America’s Cup teams to do – but are the meat and drink of an F1 team – are:

  • all the systems that we have in place to know [things like] if you put a hydraulic pipe down a certain length of something, how far away do have to keep all the other things away so they don’t fret on the pipe, and how often down the pipe do you have to support it so that it doesn’t bounce around too much

  • the type of equipment that we have to inspect stuff, so that we know what we designed is what we built and what we are assembling

  • all of the design standards that have been painfully learnt and written into procedure for the F1 team, which can then be picked up and used by the community of engineers that is Ineos Britannia

That sort of stuff is pretty valuable. If you want all your good hydrodynamic and aerodynamic ideas to come true – things that are coming from the experienced marine folk on the team, backed up by the capable bodies that are working with them – then the boat has to actually be assembled on time, to the right quality, not break down on the water so the sailors can learn when they are sailing it.

I think that the maturity of the Mercedes Formula 1 team provides a really functional environment for the design engineers then to create designs that ought to be reliable and work. Then hopefully we build in enough raw performance to make that a competitive boat – as well as a reliable boat.

Which people and in which roles at the F1 team do you envisage working on the America’s Cup project?

The truth is that the challenge of the boat will eventually touch on the skill set of most of the people on the engineering and manufacturing side in this team. That’s because if you were to go and dig through the boat you would see that there are things in it that would interest a cooling engineer, a hydraulics engineer, a structural engineer, a composites engineer, a mechanical mechanisms guy, an aerodynamicist, a hydrodynamicist, and so on.

You just name it – the full gamut: electronics, data acquisition, the sensors, pretty much everything that makes up the backbone of an F1 team you could find some part of an America’s Cup boat that they could work on and be excited by. Because the product is really interesting.

So, the type of people that we hope to bring to the party on this project will cover all the technical areas in our team – but not necessarily all at the same time. [For example] we are not making hardware at the moment. The Cup isn’t for a while, so the people who will be making bits will be making prototypey stuff a little bit down-stream from here, and test rigs and the like, and then move on to making boat stuff later on.

At the moment, the type of people from our world - the F1 world - that are involved are some aerodynamicist-type guys, performance simulation-type guys, softwarey-type guys, – and planners.

I doubt when people think about our car roaring around the track, or the boat steaming up and down those courses, whether people give much thought to the planners. But actually, at the beginning of a campaign, they are your most precious asset.

If it’s anything - and this is very similar to F1 - this Challenge is a race against the clock. It’s going to be some years before we actually fight, and it might feel like that’s ages but actually when you look at all the work that is piled up in front of us, it feels like it’s tomorrow.

[That’s why] having the planners who can show you what the critical path is, so that you can then deploy material and folk in that direction, that’s really key, and at the moment we have some F1 planner guys working on that. It’s the least glamorous of tasks – but a really, really, important task.

When Ben Ainslie talks about the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team he uses the word ‘discipline’ a lot. Does that resonate with you as someone who knows the organisation’s culture well?

It’s an interesting word, because if you had asked me to pick adjectives out to describe what it feels like to be a member of this team, discipline wouldn’t be one of the ones I would reach for.

That isn’t to say that there isn’t discipline but it’s not like I one of our goals is to create a disciplined environment.

To me working here is fun, exciting, friendly, kind – this is a very kind team – and enjoyable. Yeah, we set ourselves difficult tasks, and we want to get those tasks done, but there’s an awful lot of laughter too.

I think what Ben means is that if you walk into our design office in any given weekday there’s not just a riotous noise, it’s sort of quiet and focused. There’s hubbub of conversation here and there and there’s laughter, but if you look around on every screen you will see a part of an engineering design with some designer working on it. And people bent to the task of trying to get what we are trying to do as a shared goal.

I think when you walk into a drawing office as large as ours you can’t walk away without a sense of “shit, these people are on a mission”. And I think that is something that Ben noticed straight away when he walked in here.

To be honest, all the colleagues we have met as we have created the Ineos Britannia team out of motor racing folk and the experienced America’s Cup professionals, they want the same as we do. They want to work in an environment that allows them to get the outcome they are seeking. They are probably a bit more sued to wearing flip flops and shorts, but no less focused on the task.

How much has Formula 1’s introduction of cost caps on the teams this season and for the next two seasons influenced the decision to get involved in an America’s Cup Challenge?

To explain the cost cap: there is literally an amount of money that we can’t exceed in a given calendar year. [The restrictions] don’t cover the gamut of our team’s activities – but if you think of anything to do basically with the concept of design, manufacture, test, build and operation of the car, then the cap applies to all that stuff.

The cap is set at a level that is a considerable chunk below where this team would traditionally have spent in that field. This season was the first year. You have to demonstrate that what you are doing come under that cap. The cost cap actually reduces by 5 million [dollars] a year for two years after this one – 145, 140, 135 million dollars. That generates us a certain amount of capacity for taking on a project like this.

This team was bigger last year than you can afford with the cost cap this year. And that means that a certain amount of our resources is able to work on this type of project. As the rhythm of the Cup campaign requires it, hopefully it will intermesh adequately with the corresponding demands that happen over in F1 land. So that all the skill we have here can be brought to bear.

What conversations did you have with Martin Fischer when the two of you first met on this project?

At the very beginning of the conversations with Martin - and with every other person whose profession and passion has been to design these fantastic racing yachts - is to emphasise that we hope that we properly understand that being good at racing cars doesn’t mean you are good at making yachts. And that what we wish to do is to learn – from people who are good at doing yachts – the manner in which we can best help.

My opening conversations with Martin were to try to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the previous campaign inside Ben’s team, and the strengths and weaknesses of the campaign that Martin was involved with in Luna Rossa.

To try to work out how we can try to amplify the strengths, mitigate the weaknesses, and to see where there are areas of opportunity. For example, things like the engineering standards we have here which any engineering group can gratefully pick up and fall on like manna from heaven to just say ‘well that’s work we don’t need to do’.

Specifically though, [we talked about] what are the likely key features – [given that] we don’t know the venue yet, we don’t know the timing yet, we don’t know lots of things - but what are the likely key features, [like] what sort of level of force are we going to need to have in terms of manpower, effort, and design loops, iterations, in order to have half a chance.

Martin has been really helpful in trying to guide our thinking on that. Then hopefully we have been useful teammates in terms of doing our part to create an environment where people who have made this their life’s work can come here and say ‘yes we can do good work here. And yes, the engineers you’re putting with us are worth their salt’.

British syndicate revs up third America’s Cup Challenge with Mercedes Formula 1 team partnership

My take on the Ineos Britannia announcements after attending the team's media day held at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team headquarters on Monday.

The America’s Cup entered a new era this week with the announcement that British syndicate Ineos Britannia – formerly Ineos Team UK – had entered a close partnership with the all-conquering Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team for its challenge for the 37th America’s Cup.

I am a great believer in the adage ‘Don’t tell me what you are going to do, tell me what you have done’ and that is exactly what Sir Ben Ainslie’s team did on Monday at the Mercedes-AMG Petronas headquarters in Brackley, England.

There was no wistful navel gazing, no misty-eyed nostalgia about the UK being the spiritual home of the America’s Cup, just straight up honesty and pragmatism – beginning with explaining why the team came home empty-handed from AC36 in New Zealand.

“We just didn’t design and build a fast enough boat,” was Ainslie’s succinct explanation during the media round table after the live-streamed announcement from the top floor Silver Arrows hospitality lounge in Brackley.

“I don’t mean to put the blame squarely on our design team,” he added. “As head of the whole organisation, I take responsibility.”

Fortunately, the team’s owner – UK billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe, chairman and CEO of the Ineos global chemical company – is in the America’s Cup for the long haul and willing to back Ainslie for his third tilt at winning sailing’s oldest and most prestigious competition.

“My take on Jim is that he is one of these guys that if he sees a challenge, the harder it is, the more attractive it is, and he doesn't want to give up on it,” Ainslie told us. “And that's the same for me. We set this goal to win the Cup and we have still got to get the job done.

Ainslie recalled the initial debriefs with Ratcliffe in Auckland after AC36 as being ‘pretty honest discussions’ about why the team didn’t perform better, which soon transitioned into questions like ‘How do we improve? How do we move forward?’.

Whether or not Ratcliffe took a bit of a back seat in the last America’s Cup, it is clear that he is very much involved in the direction this one is taking. Hence the tie up with the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team in which he recently purchased a 30 per cent stake.

Ineos Britannia combines the existing specialist expertise and intellectual property assets of the sailing team with Mercedes-AMG Applied Science – a division of the Formula 1 team established in 2019 to make best use people and other resources made available by the F1 budget cap introduced this year.

From the sailing team side Ainslie continues in his roles as team principal/CEO and skipper, with his tactician from AC36, British double Olympic gold medallist Giles Scott the only other sailor announced at this stage.

Dave Endean steps up from his project director role in the last campaign to take over as chief operating officer (COO), with Matt Robinson and Jo Grindley continuing as chief financial officer (CFO) and chief marketing officer (CMO)/chief communications officer (CCO) respectively.

In what is a major coup for the British campaign, eminent German designer Martin Fischer – previously with Luna Rossa for AC36 – has joined the team as head of design concept. Also recruited is American foil design guru Nat Shaver who joins from US syndicate American Magic.

What sets this new partnership aside from any of the tenuous technology hook ups we have heard about from America’s Cup teams in previous editions is the involvement in the project of senior figures from within the Formula 1 team.

People like James Allison – the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team chief technical officer – who will be the technical lead for Ineos Britannia, and Geoffrey Willis – the F1 team’s technical director.

Both these two are big hitters in the motorsport world and senior figures in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team. Their inclusion in the Ineos Britannia set up is an indication of the level of commitment the F1 team has attached to the America’s Cup project.

During Monday’s live-streamed announcement and in the round table and one-on-one interviews later when asked what Mercedes-AMG Applied Science brought to the campaign, Ainslie repeatedly used the word ‘discipline’.

“There is a culture here that you notice straight away,” he told us. “I was so taken aback when I first came here and walked around the design offices and saw everyone’s focus and discipline. I think that culture and attention to detail is something that would be good for us as an America's Cup team.”

He’s not wrong about the impact a visit to the Formula 1 team base has on you. I was only there for a few hours on Monday but came away hugely impressed.

There is a quiet, assured confidence that pervades the entire operation – from the gate keeper who told me where to park, to the catering staff serving coffee and three types of water, to the team’s CEO Toto Wolff.

I guess that’s the culture that naturally evolves at an organisation that has won Formula 1’s driver and constructor championships seven consecutive times since 2014.

“I think what Ben means is that if you walk into our design office in any given weekday there’s not a riotous noise, it’s sort of quiet and focused,” Allison told us in his round table session.

“There’s hubbub of conversation here and there and there’s laughter, but if you look around on every screen you will see a part of an engineering design with some designer working on it – and people bent to the task of trying to get done what we are trying to do as a shared goal.

“You can’t walk away without a sense of ‘shit, these people are on a mission’ – and I think that is something that Ben noticed straight away when he walked in here.”

The other potential America’s Cup teams will be sitting up and taking notice too. Some might even be quaking in their sea boots when they see how far the British squad has got with this key relationship.

It could even be that the British have raised the bar for mounting a viable challenge for the America’s Cup to the point that you might as well not bother if you haven’t buddied up to major F1 entity.

Rumours have emerged that Alinghi will join forces with the Red Bull F1 team for a 37th America’s Cup challenge, and that Luna Rossa are circling Ferrari in an attempt to do a similar deal.

American Magic meanwhile are yet to get NASCAR team owner Roger Penske – also owner of the Indy 500 race and the IndyCar official governing body – to commit to another AC campaign. Just how well NASCAR technology expertise would stack up against F1 I am not sure.

The British team’s announcement was also heard loud and clear down in Auckland, New Zealand where the current America’s Cup holder Emirates Team New Zealand is battling to secure the funding it needs both to stage the next edition of the Cup and to successfully defend it.

“It’s impressive,” the team’s CEO Grant Dalton told Duncan Johnstone from Stuff.

“To me, it just gives context as to why we can’t contemplate an under-funded campaign. That’s because this (British) team are not only fully weaponised now as they move forward with their design process – they also have as much money as they need.”

Further interviews from the Ineos Britannia media day with James Allison, Ben Ainslie, and Toto Wolff are to follow in the next 48 hours.

Damning revelations from Emirates Team New Zealand sink Kiwi Home Defence campaign

Damning email evidence of a sneaky attempt to oust the British Challenger of Record destroys KHD credibility and ends hopes of New Zealand hosting 37th America's Cup.

Hopes of the 37th America’s Cup taking place in New Zealand in 2024 have gone up in smoke overnight after a devastating broadside from the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) blew gaping holes in credibility of the Kiwi Home Defence (KHD) campaign led by Auckland businessman Mark Dunphy.

The KHD initiative had appeared to be gathering some momentum in the last week, despite assertions by Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton that the group’s consortium of un-named backers included two rival billionaire team bosses Ernesto Bertarelli (Alinghi) and Larry Ellison (Oracle Team USA).

Dalton also fingered Dunphy as being behind an attempt by fellow Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) member Doctor Hamish Ross it said aimed to coerce the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) into legal action in the New York Supreme Court to try to depose Ineos Team UK and the Royal Yacht Squadron Ltd. (RYS) as the Challenger of Record for AC37.

Yesterday Dunphy denied these allegations publicly in a statement posted on the KHD website:

“Claims have been made by Grant Dalton about Kiwi Home Defence and our proposal and motives in offering financial backing and support to keep the America’s Cup defence in 2024 in Auckland.

“These claims are false.

“The Kiwi Home Defence team and Mark Dunphy are not working with, or on behalf of, any offshore interests. The Squadron and Team New Zealand are aware of this. Any assertion to the contrary is completely untrue.”

This triggered a fiery statement from ETNZ in which (among other things) it cited an email in the team’s possession from Ross – with Dunphy in direct copy – to Chris Culver ¬– commodore of the New York Yacht Club.

According to the ETNZ release, Ross writes in the email:

“I am assisting a group of prominent New Zealanders seeking to keep the next America's Cup event in Auckland… Through me, the group in NZL are asking the NYYC Club, in fulfilment of its supervisory role, to challenge RYSL over its bona fides as a qualified challenger.

“This may require an interpretation of the Deed to provide clarity for all concerned. The first step would be sending the challenger RYSL a letter and, if there is an unsatisfactory response, seeking an interpretation from the NY Supreme Court.

“Seeking an interpretation would disrupt the venue selection which is due to be announced on 17 September 2021. Given time is of the essence, I have taken the liberty of preparing a suggested form of letter as a starting point for consideration.

“Assuming RYSL cannot qualify as a challenger, the NYYC's challenge of 7 May 2021 as the next qualified challenge filed after RYSL's challenge, would cause NYYC to become the next COR, with the new Protocol to be agreed between RNZYS and the NYYC.”

As a reminder, on May 8 this year the NYYC unexpectedly issued a challenge for the 37th America’s Cup – along with what it described as an evolutionary draft protocol for the event.

The challenge and the protocol were politely rebuffed by ETNZ, but according to the team’s latest statement that NYYC challenge was allegedly hand delivered to the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron by Ross.

How much time the NYYC spent discussing Ross’ proposal is not clear. In the end though they rejected it.

How the email from Ross made its way to ETNZ is not clear, but in the team statement Dalton congratulated the NYYC decision.

“We applaud Commodore Culver and the NYYC for wanting no part and rejecting Mr Ross and Mr Dunphy’s overtures,” Dalton said.

Meanwhile, Aaron Young, commodore of the RNZYS today issued his own statement expressing his concern and disappointment over the revelations in the ETNZ press release.

“RNZYS as Trustee of the America’s Cup is very aware of the responsibilities that brings. The RNZYS General Committee is responsible for all decisions the Club makes including anything to do with the America’s Cup and will in due course consider any further action.

“ETNZ and RNZYS have an agreement with ETNZ who is responsible for conducting the defence of the 37th America’s Cup. As our representative team, ETNZ have the full support of the RNZYS.

“RNZYS has a preference that the defence be held in Auckland with the caveat that there is funding to run a credible defence together with support from Local & Central Government.”

Unsurprisingly, ETNZ has now ceased all dealings with Dunphy and Ross – effectively ending any chance of the America’s Cup taking place in Auckland in 2024.

“Emirates Team New Zealand is disappointed by Mark Dunphy’s underhanded and deceitful attempts to undermine the RNZYS, ETNZ and the RYS with his despicable actions,” Dalton said in the team statement.

“We gave him every opportunity to tell us himself, but he chose not to and as far as we are concerned this puts an end to a regrettable chapter in AC37.”

With Auckland now off the table, three choices now remain: Cork in southern Ireland, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, and an ‘All of Spain’ bid centred around Barcelona.

Last week ETNZ extended the deadline for the AC37 host venue bidding process run by Origin Sports – but did not say for how long.

Ireland’s government was unable to commit by the previous September 17 deadline and asked for up to six more months to decide. Meanwhile, the workings of Spain’s political system mean a decision from there is unlikely to come much quicker.

Which leaves Jeddah, who are believed to have submitted a government backed offer before the original deadline, surely leaving the the Saudi Arabian city in pole position to host the next cycle of the America’s Cup in three years’ time.

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