The New York Yacht Club backs out of 37th America’s Cup involvement

Commodore cites 'uncertainty' over the venue and timing of the next edition as the reason for the famous club's withdrawal

The New York Yacht Club’s increasingly uneasy involvement in the 37th America’s Cup has officially come to an end.

Yesterday the renowned club confirmed in a press statement that it was “pausing its pursuit of the America’s Cup”, citing uncertainty over the venue and timing of the next edition.

“There are few private clubs that enjoy a stronger bond with a single competition than the New York Yacht Club does with the America’s Cup, which we founded and held for 132 years,” said NYYC Commodore Christopher J. Culver.

“However, we ultimately have a responsibility to act in the best interests of our membership. Given the continued uncertainty regarding the 37th America’s Cup, we have decided to pause our challenge for this edition.”

“For more than six months, the New York Yacht Club along with other potential challengers have waited for clarity regarding the venue, timing, and rules for the 37th America’s Cup. Time is never on the side of new teams in this great contest, but at some point, we must recognize when there simply isn’t enough of it left to build a competitive challenge.”

This final comment is an undisguised sideswipe at the leadership of America’s Cup Defender Emirates Team New Zealand, who the NYYC commodore clearly feels have been unnecessarily dragging their feet over securing a host city agreement for the 37th cycle of the Cup.

The jab received a characteristically robust response from ETNZ who gave this statement to Duncan Johnstone of stuff.co.nz.

“While it is disappointing to hear of the apparent loss of the NYYC from AC37, we are not entirely surprised as we started to see them struggling with the reality of being a competing yacht club as early as December last year.”

“Commodore Culver’s Corinthian approach to the modern America’s Cup was obviously at odds with their former representative team American Magic, who they alienated earlier this year.

“The reality of the modern-day America’s Cup competition is that every yacht club needs its representative team to be responsible for the operation and decisions of its challenge or defence whilst protecting the club and its members from any financial liability.

“The outcome of the NYYC approach is in complete contrast to that of RNZYS and Team New Zealand who have had an enduring relationship for 27 years, winning the America’s Cup four times where the yacht club plays a valuable supporting role to the team that carries the financial and competitive responsibilities.”

Although the NYYC has been a major player in the America’s Cup over its long history, the club’s decision not to get involved in the 37th cycle actually makes little difference to the likely number of competing teams. Both American Magic – who represented NYYC at AC36 – and Stars+Stripes USA – the syndicate that the club had announced as its partner for AC37 – are still planning to challenge.

“Stars+Stripes USA, led by members Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield, will carry forward with their plans to challenge for the 37th America’s Cup,” said Commodore Culver. “We wish them the best of luck. They represent the future of American yachting.”

Despite this upbeat tribute, the NYYC announcement will have, nevertheless, come as blow to the Stars+Stripes USA syndicate’s plans to mount a challenge for AC37.

In a statement to Duncan Johnstone Stars+Stripes USA’s Buckley confirmed they were pressing on.

“We are disappointed that NYYC reversed its decision to participate in the next cycle of the America’s Cup,” Buckley said. “However, nothing has changed for Stars+Stripes USA. We remain even more committed to competing in AC37 in order to change the sport of sailing in the United States.”

“We will continue building a diverse team that reflects our country and represents modern American values. We will expand our ecosystem of partners and move forward with expanding the AI technology that we initiated for AC36 that will be required to win in 2024.”

It's hard not to wonder why, after waiting for so long for clarification over the venue and timing of AC37, the club could not wait a little longer. An announcement of the event’s official protocol is expected next month – so why not, for the sake of a few weeks, wait until after that announcement to decide.

Defender ETNZ is yet to confirm the deadline for the venue announcement, with Jeddah, Cork, Ireland, along with the Spanish cities of Valencia and Barcelona all still being considered. Possibly the club has chosen to opt out early to avoid having to deal with the possibility of Saudi Arabia being chosen as the 37th Cup venue?

Although the NYYC will not be challenging for the 37th America’s Cup, it seems the esteemed club’s flag officers have not washed their hands of the AC completely. Rather, they plan to somehow play a role in shaping its future.

“Our passion for this competition remains as strong as ever,” said Commodore Culver. “We will continue to advocate for what we believe to be essential changes to the structure of the America’s Cup. This evolution will retain the competition’s unmatched history and appeal while enabling it to compete on today’s increasingly competitive modern sports landscape.”

Given that it is hard enough sometimes in the America’s Cup world for a Challenger syndicate to make its voice heard, just how the NYYC hopes to be able to influence things from the outside is hard to imagine.