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Nationality rules returning to the America's Cup

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The 34th America’s Cup was won by the US. Everyone following the race knows that. But what does that really mean. The United States entry, Team Oracle, had one, yes one, US citizen aboard in the Cup finals. The other ten crew members were citizens of other countries. And this has been a point of contention since 2000.

Prior to the America’s Cup held in 2000, teams were held to a nationality rule. This meant that team members were citizens of the boats they sailed on. In 2000, the rules were changed. Post 2000, teams could sign and have as crew citizens from any country. Hence, one US citizen on the winning boat along with ten non-US nationals.
Now, with the protocols for the next Cup being discussed between the defender (Team Oracle) and the Challenger of Record (Hamilton Island Yacht Club), a review of the nationality rule is under serious discussion.

In an interview this week with Yachting World magazine, Russell Coutts, CEO of Team Oracle, has indicated that current discussions are focusing on more nationals being required on each boat. The current rules stipulate that the hull must be built in the named country. All other regulatory segments of the team were wide open.

Should new regulations require more (or all) nationals on the sailing team, it will mark a huge change in not only team composition, but in the total approach to the America’s Cup. And the decision is vital to both crew and teams. Many teams and potential crew members are already being signed. Nationality rule changes may make it difficult for teams to sign crew for the next campaign.

The decisions around team nationality will dictate team approaches for the future. We should see a decision on this protocol in the next three months.



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