Team NZ accepts first challenge for next America's Cup

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (AP) — Team New Zealand no sooner had retained the America’s Cup in the 36th Cup Match than it accepted the first challenge for the 37th Cup.

In keeping with the 170-year tradition of the Cup, the defender accepts a “hip-pocket” challenge from its preferred Challenger of Record for the next event as soon as the regatta ends.

Team New Zealand sails for the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron which has formally accepted the new challenge. While the RNZYS didn’t reveal Wednesday who the challenger is, local reports have suggested it will be the Royal Yacht Squadron of Britain. Team UK was the beaten finalist in the challenger series for this America's Cup.

That would mean that runner-up Luna Rossa, the Challenger of Record for the 2021 regatta, has been replaced.

The challenger helps to set the guidelines for the next America’s Cup, including the location, date and type of boats for the competition.

“We have received a challenge for the 37th America’s Cup,” RNZYS general manager Hayden Porter told the New Zealand Herald. “There’s a lot of details to come; discussions will evolve over the next few days, weeks and months and things will happen from there.”

Porter said the recognition of the next challenger was part of the tradition of the America’s Cup.

“It’s one of those traditions that is pretty special about the Cup, that (the defender) must receive a challenge and it must be accepted,” Porter said. “There’s a protocol that goes with it.

“It gets handed over literally at the second (the match win) happens. In the old days, things used to get thrown on to boats."

He said the New Zealand Yacht Squadron takes measures to ensure there's no confusion.

“We have some protocols that go around it where our email servers get shut down, our phones get shut down, the doors get locked and things like that so it can’t be challenged that another challenge has been received," he said. "We’ve done it a few times, so we know the drill.”

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More AP sports: https://apnews.com/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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