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Get to know Iain Murray and the ACRM

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Iain Murray
Iain Murray

Intense competition is right at the heart of the America’s Cup. Throughout its 166 year history the rivalries between owners, skippers, crews, yacht clubs, fans and nations have been some of the most intriguing facets of the competition for the world’s oldest sporting trophy. With that in mind, finding a truly independent person in the midst of the America’s Cup could be considered unlikely, but in the America’s Cup Race Management’s (ACRM’s) Iain Murray, Regatta Director of the 35th America’s Cup, that person exists.


As Iain himself puts it in a recent interview you can see HERE "The teams have put me in this position because they know me and they trust me to come out with a fair and honest outcome.”

Who is the most independent man in the America’s Cup? This recent interview with Iain explains perfectly who he is and what the role of the ACRM is in the 35th America’s Cup.
Iain is an Australian, originally from Sydney, who was Regatta Director of the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco and will be Regatta Director of the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda 2017.

He has enjoyed a long and illustrious career since he first started sailing at the age of nine in his native Sydney. His competitive sailing resumé is incredibly impressive, including winning the 1973 Australian Cherub Championship title, six consecutive 18 foot Skiff world titles from 1977 to 1982, winner of the World Etchells championship in 1984 and four America’s Cup campaigns as a competitor; Skipper of Advance in 1983; Helmsman of Kookaburra III in 1987; Syndicate Head and Afterguard / Tactician of Spirit of Australia in 1992; and a key crew member of One Australia / AUS-31 in 1995.

Now, in 2017, Iain’s focus is very firmly on the 35th America’s Cup, taking place in Bermuda from 26th May through 27th June, 2017. After the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco this will be Iain’s second America’s Cup event as Regatta Director, and one in which the role of ACRM, of which Iain is CEO, has evolved since the 2013 America’s Cup. That was the campaign in San Francisco that captivated the world’s attention when ORACLE TEAM USA came back from 8-1 down against Emirates Team New Zealand to finally win 9-8, arguably the greatest sporting comeback of all time.

On a recent visit to Bermuda Iain took the time to explain what the role of ACRM is in the 35th America’s Cup, saying “ACRM is an acronym for America’s Cup Race Management and it has evolved over many cycles of the America’s Cup. In the 34th America’s Cup I was ACRM Regatta Director and CEO of that organization and in 2013 we had a big logistics role as well [as race management].

“This time [in 2017] our operation is much smaller, restricted to on water management activities and the racecourse. I was a little bit up tight about being continually questioned about my independence when ACRM was funded by the Defender so I changed it so the ACRM is totally independent.

“The big change is that ACRM is now independently owned by all of the teams, and funded by all of the teams, and that’s a change from what it’s always been in the past. My bosses are all of the teams.”

What does that mean in practice? This explanation of the ACRM’s core responsibilities, found in the Governance section of the 35th America’s Cup website HERE should help:

- The ACRM is responsible for managing and administering the sporting side and competitive rules of the 35th America’s Cup (other than rules pertaining to commercial rights and benefits managed by ACEA)

- ACRM is headed by the Regatta Director, Iain Murray, who was independently appointed by a majority vote of the Competitors. Iain has established ACRM in consultation with the competitors to serve as the entity responsible for overseeing the functions of the 35th America’s Cup Regatta Officials. The Regatta Director also chairs the Competitor Forum, where all competitors participate to discuss and vote on any rule changes or class rule amendments.

- ACRM is responsible for the on-water management of all 35th America’s Cup racing, including control of the race course areas as well as ensuring that all races are conducted in a fair, professional and timely manner. ACRM is also responsible for contracting and managing the race umpires, who make all on-water decisions about any infringements under the Racing Rules; as well as the measurers, who ensure that each competitor’s race yachts are rule compliant for all racing.

- As a neutral body focused on fair and balanced competition, every team competing in the 35th America’s Cup is fairly represented in ACRM.
Looking ahead to Bermuda and what Iain’s days will look like during the 35th America’s Cup, and the challenges that lie ahead, is the perfect way to explain what the role of ACRM is in practice. Iain explained that “We start early, briefing our people and those around the racecourse – the officials, the course marshals, the skippers of the boats – about how we think the day will go; the number of races, the type of course and safety issues. Then we get out on the course, look at the wind and the conditions that lie ahead. Then we run the races and that’s our day!”

“I’m sure there will be awkward and difficult moments, but we have lots of rules. We have the protocol, we have the class rules, and then we have the administration of those rules through umpires, measurement committees and some decisions to be made by the Regatta Director. However, we try to make them very black and white and not subjective in any way. We try to lay it all out into clear options before anything happens and we rely on our experience to foresee what all the possible scenarios are going to be.
Iain ends by saying “It’s the America’s Cup. The teams have put me in this position because they know me and they trust me to come out with a fair and honest outcome.”

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