Team New Zealand will on Friday unfurl their plans for the 36th America's Cup when they announce the Protocol for the event. While the key changes have already been sign-posted, the devil will be in the detail. Dana Johannsen highlights what to expect.
Team NZ have signalled their intention to strengthen the nationality rules for the next event, with the Protocol expected to contain more robust "constructed in country" rules as well as a nationality requirement for competing crews.
It's difficult to judge the full implications of this until we know how strict the nationality criteria will be. Team NZ boss Grant Dalton offered some clarification to Italian newspaper La Stampa last week, confirming the nationality clause would apply to the sailors only and would require a percentage of the crew carry a passport from the competing country.
Various reports have put that percentage at about 75 per cent.
The constructed in country rule is not a new condition introduced by Team NZ - it is a fundamental principle in the Deed of Gift. This rule has gradually been watered down over the years to the point where at the last event in Bermuda, only a small section of the bow was required to be built in the country of the competing team.
While there have been predictions of dire consequences for the New Zealand boat building industry, again, it is hard to assess what impact it will have until the full terms are known.
Team NZ have already indicated a preference to hold the next America's Cup in Auckland in early 2021. The regatta is expected to return to a traditional challenger selection series after Oracle Team USA this year broke with tradition and inserted themselves in the challenger series, which saw them carry through a one-point advantage into the Cup match.
Other than that little is known about the shape of the regatta and where the racing will take place.
Italian media are reporting that Luna Rossa's backers Prada will be the new naming rights sponsor of the challenger series. If so, the arrangement would end Louis Vuitton's 37-year sponsorship with the challenger series, so evidently Team NZ and Luna Rossa are not fiercely guarding every tradition.
There has been suggestion Team NZ will also hold a series of pre-regattas in the lead-up to the 2021 event, so we can expect these plans to be outlined on Friday. Dalton last week gave La Stampa a heads-up, confirming a pre-regatta circuit will begin in 2019.
Don't expect to learn a whole lot more about what class of boat will be used for the next event other than what has already been said. Prompted by a "suggestion" from Luna Rossa boss Patrizio Bertelli to Italian media, Team NZ confirmed earlier this month that they would be returning to monohulls for the next event. Despite talk it will be a foiling class, Dalton would only say it will be a "high-performance monohull".
Given the complexities around writing the design rules the full details of the class will not be announced until November 30, but there may be a couple of wee nuggets to be gleaned from the Protocol. The size of the crew will provide a pointer to the size of the boat, and we may also learn if there'll be any one-design elements.
One key rule to be confirmed is how many boats each of the teams will be permitted to build, which will give an indication of the likely costs of competing - one key barrier to entry in the America's Cup.
We're yet to hear any details of how the event itself will be run, and who will be charged with heading it up. It is likely a separate organising committee (though not entirely independent of Team NZ) will be established to manage the event from both a commercial and logistical perspective.
Earlier this month the Herald reported Auckland has less than two years to build facilities for the America's Cup, with the first of the challenger syndicates set to arrive in mid-2019.
Urgent work is under way by the Auckland Council to consider options for basing the syndicates on the Auckland waterfront, which include a 60m to 80m Halsey Wharf extension north of the Viaduct Harbour, an extension to Westhaven Marina and Captain Cook Wharf.
The urgency surrounding a site for the America's Cup syndicates, which requires 30,000sq m of space, was disclosed at council's planning committee at the beginning of September.