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Changes OK’d for next America’s Cup

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The America’s Cup teams have agreed to make changes aimed at reducing costs for the 2017 America’s Cup. Central to these changes is the introduction of a new America’s Cup Class, the wing-sailed, foiling catamaran between 45 and 50 feet.

“Collectively, the teams have agreed current costs are neither justified, nor sustainable, and a majority have together taken a sensible course of action to cut costs,” Commercial Commissioner Harvey Schiller said after the teams voted this week. “I believe this puts the America’s Cup on a firm foundation for today and for the future.”

A majority of the current teams favored the new class, with the expectation it will be used in the next edition of the America’s Cup as well, and will lower the barrier to entry, both technological and financial, to new teams.

“This wasn’t an easy process,” said Oracle Team USA skipper Jimmy Spithill. “The established teams, ourselves included, were well down the path of designing an AC62. But there is a bigger picture to consider. We needed to bring the costs down, but we had to respect the design component of the event as that’s always been one of the biggest challenges in winning the America’s Cup.”

The savings may spark additional entries, with at least one potential team from Asia expected to challenge and other international teams considering their options, according to an America’s Cup statement.

“To be a global success, the America’s Cup needs to be accessible to the best teams, not just the biggest and wealthiest ones,” said Franck Cammas, the skipper of Team France. “So we must change in this way.”

The rule changes were passed by a majority vote of the Competitor Forum, comprising the six teams currently entered in the America’s Cup. An updated Protocol and a new Class Rule will be published this week.

A majority of the teams has also now indicated a preference that all of the racing in 2017 be conducted at a single venue, Bermuda. The America’s Cup Event Authority will consider this in nominating a venue for the America’s Cup Qualifiers.

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