Originally Posted by crgildart
I'm not sure if I like or dislike the way they finally loosened up in what's allowed and not allowed to race. I still remember all the uproar over the wing on the Australian ship's keel that one year.
Now they let multiple hull rigs run. Seems like anything goes now.
How it works is that the winner sets the rules for the next series.
The USA held the cup for over a century by writing a rule that the boats had to get to the race area under their own sail power. This meant that any challenger had to have a boat sturdy enough (i.e. heavy and slow) to cross the ocean while the defender only had to sail out of the harbor into the bay. The lighter faster defender always prevailed.
The other rules for what was and what wasn't allowed remained fairly conservative (ie traditional sailing ships) until New Zealand successfully snuck a winged keel into the race and won the cup in 1983. Technological innovation really took off after that. Fiberglass instead of wood! Oh my!
The US (San Diego yacht club) eventually won the cup back, and when it came time to defend it in 1988 they got to write the rules as defending champion. They put in a loophole that allowed them to race a catamaran with a wing sail, much to the surprise of everyone. Since cats are so much faster, it was hardly much of a contest.
This time around Ellison wrote the rules in such a way that it would be too expensive for much of anyone to mount a challenge. It worked.
I can only speculate what self-serving crap is going to be in the rules next time.