Herald yachting reporter and America's Cup expert Dana Johannsen answers the big questions following this morning's latest twist.
1. What exactly has happened here, Dana?
It seems Team Australia have just had enough.
When Bob Oatley first lodged a challenge on behalf of Hamilton Island Yacht Club he had romantic notions of making the America's Cup more accessible and affordable, putting the emphasis back on sailing skills. But the negotiation process with Oracle Team USA has clearly been fraught. The release of the Protocol for the next event took months longer than expected and when it finally was, it was far from satisfactory for most of the challengers.
The challengers got the opportunity to air their disapproval at a competitor's meeting in Los Angeles last weekend, where one of the key issues was discussed was the difficulty in progressing their challenge without the venue for the next event being known. The teams were also unhappy with the remaining venue options. It is now clear Team Australia were facing the same difficulties and, having had little success in getting the Defenders to bend on anything up until this point, have decided to pull the pin.
2. What does it mean for Oracle Team USA and the next America's Cup regatta?
A similar situation occurred in the last event when the original challenger of record, Mascalzone Latino, withdrew due to a lack of funding. On that occasion Swedish team Artemis then stepped up to become challenger of record as they had been the next team to sign on.
It is not yet known who the next challenger of record will be, but it is understood Italian team Luna Rossa and Artemis are the only other teams to have officially entered at this point. If the new challenger of record does not accept the existing Protocol then new terms for the next America's Cup will have to be negotiated.
3. Does this vindicate in any way Grant Dalton, who was accused by Oracle as being a whinger when he queried the protocol?
Dalton's initial reservations about the Protocol have proved bang on. From the outset his chief concern has been the delay in nominating a venue and the requirement that teams must pay a $US2 million entry fee before the host and dates of the even are confirmed.
Without clarity around the basic details of the next event - venue and dates - it is impossible for teams to secure commercial sponsorship.
Dalton warned the lack of certainty over the venue would rule out commercial teams, possibly even Team New Zealand. He was primarily referring to a potential French challenge led by Frank Cammas when he made his comments, but it has since been revealed several other teams are struggling and for a start-up commercial syndicate like Team Australia it has proved just too bigger hurdle to clear.
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