They’re in! On Wednesday, we floated the well-founded rumor that Taylor Canfield would head up a Long Beach Yacht Club-flagged America’s Cup team. Now it’s official. The Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron accepted LBYC’s challenge, Stars & Stripes USA. The team is the fifth challenger to enter the 36th America’s Cup and the second representing an American club.
Tactician Mike Buckley and skipper Canfield co-founded the challenge after their team won LBYC’s Congressional Cup, in which they defeated that other US AC team, New York YC’s American Magic. “We are committed to making the team 100 percent American,” said Buckley.
“We have always considered Congressional Cup the road to America’s Cup,” said LBYC Commodore Bill Durant, “and we are excited to be on this road with Taylor, Mike and the Stars & Stripes team. These are exciting times for Long Beach and our club members.”
“At LBYC’s November 14 general membership meeting, Commodore Bill Durant announced plans on the proposed tentative agreement,” reported Jo Murray in the Long Beach Grunion (great name for a waterfront newspaper!). “The next evening, potential Long Beach patrons were briefed on the plan. There was a flurry of activity to meet RNZYS’s November 30 entry deadline.”
Dennis Conner okayed the team moniker. “Our name is a nod to Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes campaigns that defined all-American America’s Cup racing for decades. We are the next generation,” said Buckley.
The team’s 36-year-old CEO, Justin Shaffer, is from San Francisco. “Our funding to this point has come from a number of founding patrons from coast to coast who are passionate about our message, and I think that’s indicative of our inclusive aim,” said Shaffer.
They are already building an AC75 in Holland, MI. The team expects to be ready to compete in the first AC World Series event, which is planned for Italy in October 2019.
The challenger of record is Italy’s Luna Rossa; other challenger teams are Sir Ben Ainslie’s INEOS Team UK and Malta Altus. At 122 square miles, the Mediterranean island Republic of Malta is the smallest country to ever challenge for the Cup. Defender Emirates Team New Zealand will host the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland on March 6-21, 2021.
We’ll have much more on this exciting new West Coast team in future issues of Latitude 38.