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Protocol of the 36th America's Cup 2021

The Protocol records the items of mutual consent under the America’s Cup Deed of Gift agreed between the Defender, The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and the Challenger of Record Circolo Della Vela Sicilia and establishes the basis for a multi challenger event.

Here are some key points of the protocol which outlines the baseline rules and structure of the 36th America’s Cup:

AC75 CLass Rules

The rules are the 'blueprint' for the new boats and regulate all design aspects for the new 75 foot high performance monohull sailing yachts. The rules have been published in March 2018 and we take a look at them and the new boat design here.


All sailing crew members who compete on the race boat must meet the following nationality clause requirements:

  • When racing, at least 20% or 3 sailors of the total crew (which ever is higher) must be true nationals. The remainder of the crew need to comply with the residency rules.

  • True Nationals, i.e. a citizen of the country of the competing yacht club.
  • Resident of the Country: The sailor must be physically present in the country of the yacht club for a minimum of 380 days in the 2 year period between the 1st September 2018 and 31st August 2020. Which equates to just over 6 months of each year.

It still provides lots of opportunities for internationals to sail for other teams, it just means they need to commit to living in the country of the yacht club their team represents

The nationality rule only applies to the sailing crew on the race yacht during official racing, not to yacht designers or other team personnel.

The nationality requirements should encourages countries to grow their own sailing talent.

The Venue

It is intended that The Match venue and Challenger Selection Series be in Auckland, New Zealand in March 2021. The precise location of the America’s Cup Match and the preceding Challenger Selection Series will be announced prior to the 30th August 2018. See our event calendar for updates

If possible the announcement will be earlier dependant on the finalisation of host city arrangements.
The alternate venue, included in the Protocol, in the unlikely event that Auckland / New Zealand is unable to host the event, will be Italy.

The specific course area of the Challenger Selection Series and America’s Cup Match will be announced by the 30th August 2018.  The intention is to make the race course as spectator friendly as possible through land based, on water and technological viewing capabilities.

The Events

The precise dates of the Challenger Selection Series and America’s Cup Match will also be announced prior by the 30th August 2018 at the latest.

The Preliminary Regattas and the Challenger Selection Series will be organised by the Challenger of Record.
The America’s Cup Match will be organised by the Defender. While Commercial and Media rights will be vested with the relevant organiser, both entities will cooperate with regards to commercial issues such as sponsorship and
broadcast rights for the 36th America’s Cup as a whole.

This format goes back to the traditions of the events with the Challengers working together to find the strongest team to race the defender in the America’s Cup Match. The Defender will not compete in the Challenger Selection Series.

Preliminary Events

  • Intended to be sailed the AC75 Class yachts.

  • America’s Cup World Series:
    - Two regattas in the second half of 2019
    - Three regattas in 2020

  • America’s Cup Christmas Race: 10th- 20th December 2020 to be raced at the venue of
    the Match with all participants racing including the Defender.

The Challenger Selection Series & America’s Cup Match

  • Challenger Selection Series: January / February 2021
  • America’s Cup Match: March 2021
  • All teams must participate all preliminary events to qualify for the Challenger Selection Series and the America’s Cup Match.
  • The results of all preliminary events count for seedings only for the Challenger Selection Series.

The Challengers

There are important criteria for entry to the event for prospective challenging yacht clubs. They must meet the requirements of the Deed of Gift, have its annual regatta, been in existence for a minimum of five years, have a membership of at least 200 members, be financially supported by the majority of its membership, operate as a Yacht Club and be a member of the National Sailing Authority of their country.


  • Entries opened 1st January 2018
  • Entries closed 30th June 2018
  • Late entries are accepted up until 31st December 2018 (with an additional late entry fee)

Entry fees

  • 1 million USD at the moment of the acceptance of the challenge + 1 million USD to be paid no later than 30th of November 2018. The latter can be paid in four instalments;
  • Late entries: 1 million USD penalty;
  • Performance bond: 1 million USD
  • America’s Cup World Series: 300,000 USD per each event;
  • AC Christmas Regatta: no entry fee will be due.

Race Management

  • There will be an independent Regatta Director for both the Challenger Selection Series and the America’s Cup Match running all racing including all preliminary regattas.

  • There will be an independent Measurement Committee to ensure AC36 Class rule measurement

  • The race Jury and Umpires will manage all on water disputes regarding the racing.

  • An Arbitration Panel (3 People) will oversee and deal with all Protocol disputes. The make up of the panel will be announced following their appointment.

  • We believe in full transparency of on water and off water disputes to maintain the
    integrity and sporting values of the event and management of them.

Race Course and Format

  • The course for the Match and the preceding Challenger Selection Series will be a windward leeward configuration with an upwind start to ensure a conventional match race pre-start.

  • The winner of the Match will be the first to win 7 races.

  • The Challenger of Record is responsible for the format of the Challenger Selection Series which will consist of a tournament ladder board (seeded from the results of the Preliminary Regattas) with a repechage and the winner in each knockout series will be the first to win 5 races except for the final which will be the first to win 7

  • The Challenger of Record may alter the number of races in each phase depending upon the number of Challengers then eligible to race.

Cost Containment

  • An ongoing objective has always been in containing costs for teams practically.

  • This Protocol has taken cost containment into account as much as possible including:
    - Maximum two hulls for each competitor of which only one can be modified up to 25%- Incorporation of one- design and / or standard single manufacturer elements
    - Restrictions on materials and construction techniques
    - Prohibition of tank testing, wind tunnel testing and similar fluid dynamic testing.
    - Meteo ban on gathering weather information outside of a common program for all teams and exisiting public information that is readily available.


  • Prada Group has acquired the rights to be the "Title and Naming Sponsor" of the Preliminary Regattas and of the Challenger Selection Series as well as the "Presenting Sponsor" for the 36th America's Cup Match.

  • The XXXVI America’s Cup presented by Prada

  • The Exclusive naming rights for the Challenger Selection Series will have the Official Title: The PRADA CUP

Protocol Amendments

On the 22nd of December 2017 the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and Circolo della Vela Sicilia, the Challenger of Record, agreed on Amendment No 1 to the Protocol Governing the 36th America's Cup.

This amendment reduces the period a challenging yacht club has to have been in existence from five to three years and changes the defintion of a Surrogate Yacht from “any monohull yacht exceeding 12m LOA” to “any yacht exceeding 12m LOA”.