American Magic welcomes release of AC37 Protocol

New Protocol provides ‘a framework to allow design and planning work to accelerate for all teams’

The US America’s Cup syndicate American Magic has given a cautious thumbs up to the Protocol for the 37th America’s Cup which was released earlier this week by the Cup holders Team New Zealand and the Challenger of Record Ineos Britannia.

A statement issued by American team, which is led by Terry Hutchinson and backed by Doug DeVos and Hap Fauth, said that it welcomed the new Protocol’s release. Although the venue for AC37 is still unknown the US team said the document provided ‘a framework to allow design and planning work to accelerate for all teams’.

"Our team plans to compete at AC37, and as part of that process we continue to learn as much about the next event as we can," said DeVos, American Magic co-founder and team Principal.

"The racing venue and the regatta dates remain unknown, but the release of the Protocol and the Class Rule is definitely welcome.”

The AC37 Protocol was created by Team New Zealand in conjunction the British syndicate Ineos Britannia led by Ben Ainslie and backed by Jim Ratcliffe.

It includes a set of changes to the AC75 design rule aimed at making the boats lighter and more powerful thereby improving performance in lighter winds – an issue with the current generation of boats.

Crew numbers have also been reduced from 11 to eight and the option using of ‘cyclors’ rather than conventional grinders has also been reintroduced.

The Protocol also features a number of measures aimed at reducing the cost of mounting an America’s Cup challenge. As well as initiatives such as shared reconnaissance and supplied starting software, teams will only be allowed to build one AC75 for AC37 (two were allowed in AC36), but a new America’s Cup class – the four-person AC40 – has been introduced to allow teams to hone their match racing skills and for foil development.

The Protocol also sees the return of the Youth America’s Cup and the introduction of a Women’s AC – both to take place in one-design AC40s.

In an effort to improve the America’s Cup’s sustainability image the teams are required to build and operate two hydrogen powered foiling chase boats for their campaigns.

“The big-picture goals outlined in this Protocol, in terms of helping the America's Cup as an event gain teams, raise visibility, improve racing, create more diversity, include female sailors, and increase sustainability, are goals that American Magic absolutely supports," DeVos commented.

Terry Hutchinson, American Magic’s skipper and president of sailing operations, said the team had already begun an in-depth analysis of the Protocol document.

"So much is uncertain from a rules perspective until we have these documents in hand," Hutchinson said.

"Fortunately, we have not been sitting still as we waited. Thanks to the support of our principals, our design team and our operations staff have been laying the groundwork for our next campaign."

"There is a lot about the documents that we like already, but all together this is roughly 200 pages of info, and we are still digging into it,” he added.

“We are also keeping an open mind about some of the more ambitious aspects of the plan put forward by ETNZ and INEOS. We want AC37 to be a competitive, successful event, and we hope all the teams can work together to make that happen."

American Magic began developing new design concepts and tools as soon as it was announced shortly after the 36th America's Cup Match in Auckland that the AC75 foiling monohull would remain as the racing platform for the next Cup. AC37 in 2024 will be the first America's Cup since AC32 in 2007 where the class of boat will remain largely the same for consecutive events.

"We had been given a heads up by ETNZ and INEOS on most of the anticipated changes in the AC75 Class Rule, so there are no huge surprises," said American Magic's design coordinator and a two-time America’s Cup winner Scott Ferguson.

"However, this is the first time we've seen the actual rule text. The first order of business is checking it against the AC36 version of the rule, and then really digging into the new wording. The designers will review the aspects of the Rule related to their individual areas of expertise, and work will begin to explore the revised design space."

In terms of how these Class Rule changes will impact the Cup, Ferguson said that the racing conducted in Auckland clearly influenced how the rule was tweaked.

"One of the shortcomings of the AC75 Class [during AC36] was racing in light air. The rule changes have addressed this by expanding the foil span box by 12.5 per cent and reducing the weight of the boat by about 11 percent. Both changes are key to improving light air performance."