170 years after the first race was held at Cowes, America’s Cup action looks set to return to the Isle of Wight as New Zealand have accepted a challenge from the Royal Yacht Squadron.
INEOS TEAM UK and Royal Yacht Squadron Racing have confirmed that the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, on behalf of the Defender Emirates Team New Zealand, have accepted their Notice of Challenge for the 37th America’s Cup (AC37) and have become the Challenger of Record for AC37.
The Challenge letter was signed by Bertie Bicket, Chairman of Royal Yacht Squadron Racing and accepted by Aaron Young, Commodore of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club, on Wednesday (17th March 2021). The signing took place onboard the yacht IMAGINE as Emirates Team New Zealand crossed the finish line to win the America’s Cup for the fourth time.
In addition, INEOS have confirmed they will continue to back Sir Ben Ainslie’s team to win sport’s oldest international trophy, giving much-needed continuity, the cornerstone of every successful America’s Cup team. It will be the first time a British team has competed in 3 consecutive Cup cycles since Sir Thomas Lipton and the Royal Ulster YC bids between 1899 to 1930.
Sir Ben Ainslie has said:
“INEOS TEAM UK are committed to working alongside Emirates Team New Zealand and our respective yacht clubs to continue the development of this historic event. The introduction of the AC75 class of yacht has proven to be a transformative moment in the history of the America’s Cup and will be the bedrock of a really bright future.”
The America’s Cup, the pinnacle of yachting, was first contested in 1851 in Cowes, Isle of Wight and organised by the Royal Yacht Squadron, predating the modern Olympic Games by 45 years. The last British Challenger of Record to compete in an America’s Cup was the 12 metre, Sovereign in 1964.
Bertie Bicket, Chairman of Royal Yacht Squadron Racing, who has been in Auckland for the duration of the 36th America’s Cup said:
“We are delighted to be embarking on our third successive America’s Cup challenge with Sir Ben Ainslie and INEOS, as the Challenging Yacht Club for the 37th America’s Cup. We look forward to working with all parties and will strive to continue the tradition and history of this great sporting event.”
Details on where and when the race will take place are yet to be revealed, but it is strongly thought that racing will return to The Solent in the latter half of 2022.
Local MP Bob Seely has said:
“This is more encouraging news. New Zealand still have 90 days to object. This is not definite but clearly it is a very strong statement of intent.
“I want to thank Bertie Bicket for his brilliant work representing the Island and Islander Ben Ainslie for his intentions to centre the next America’s Cup on the Isle of Wight.
“I’m in touch with the Sports Minister and relevant Secretary of State to make them aware that the America’s Cup could be coming home to the Isle of Wight next year.
“I look forward to working with the Royal Yacht Squadron, INEOS Team UK, IW Council and other interested parties to do what we can to bring this significant event to the Island and to try to get as much benefit out of it as possible for as much of the Island as possible.”