The entry period for the 34th America’s Cup opened today, Nov. 1, and BMW ORACLE Racing became a defense candidate when it filed the entry paperwork with the Golden Gate Yacht Club.
America’s Cup aficionados will remember the last defense trials held for the America’s Cup occurred in 1995, when the San Diego Yacht Club hosted three teams battling for the right to defend the Cup: Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes, the all-women’s Mighty Mary crew supported by Bill Koch (whose 1992 winner America3 was the last U.S. victor before BMW ORACLE Racing’s success this year) and Kevin Mahaney’s Young America. Team New Zealand went on to win that Cup in a rousing 5-0 shutout of the San Diego defender.
Upon bringing the Cup to Auckland, Team New Zealand closed the door to potential defense candidates, reasoning that New Zealand had only enough resources to field one team. The logic seemed well suited as Team New Zealand went on to another 5-0 victory in the 30th Cup Match in 2000.
The subsequent mutual consent Cups in 2003 and 2007 also lacked defense trials as the defending team sought to focus squarely on the challengers rather than hone its skills against rival defense teams.
Upon winning the Cup in February 2010, Larry Ellison and Russell Coutts had no hesitation in urging the return of defense trials, aware that it would boost interest in the event. Several potential US teams are actively considering entering the fray.
According to the Protocol rules, the entry period runs through Mar. 31, 2011 with a discretionary extension for late bids.