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America's Cup- Five Challengers sign-on for 35th Match

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz on 22 Aug 2014
Emirates Team New Zealand follows Oracle Team USA around the first mark in race five on day three of the America's Cup 34. San Francisco. 10/9/2013 Chris Cameron/ETNZ© http://www.chriscameron.co.nz
The America's Cup Events Authority have confirmed that six entries have been received for the 35th America's Cup - five Challengers and the Defender, Oracle Team USA.

The five Challengers are believed to have met the entry requirements including payment of the $1million entry fee, as well as being scrutinised for compliance with the Deed of Gift, the 19th century document which governs the overall conduct of the America's Cup.

The announced teams are: Artemis Racing (SWE), Ben Ainslie Racing (GBR), Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL), Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA), Team France (FRA)

No unexpected teams appear on the list, all five Challengers had announced in one way or another that they had formed with the purpose of Challenging for the America's Cup, two had formally announced their Entry lodgement.

The most teams that Challenged for the America's Cup were 13 teams in 1987, in Fremantle, from six countries. In the monohull era entries were at usually double the current team numbers, and even higher at this stage of the cycle with entry lodgement being seen as just a matter of throwing their hats in the the America's Cup ring, while the feasibility of a Challenge was further explored.

Venue selection, and Qualification process/venue is expected to be a factor in the continuation of some of the teams

Five Challengers means that the Qualification for the 35th America's Cup will be split into two venues, with only the second being sailed at the venue of the Match. The first will be sailed at another location, probably in January or February 2017, and with Oracle Team USA competing in that Series. The winner of the first round carries one point into its score, into the America's Cup Match if they are the Challenger or Defender.

The Dual Venue concept which is now triggered under the Protocol with there being more than four entries, is unpopular with several Challengers on the basis of expense, and the fact that one of them would be eliminated before arriving at the final venue for the America's Cup Match.

The 35th America’s Cup begins in 2015 and 2016 with the America’s Cup World Series, raced in venues around the world. This feeds into the main events in 2017, which will narrow the field to just two: the top challenger and the defender, Oracle Team USA, who will then face each other in the America’s Cup Match.

Teams will be given the opportunity to host America’s Cup World Series events at a venue of their choosing, while the final venue for the 35th America’s Cup will be either Bermuda or San Diego, with the selection to be made before the end of the year.

Under the rules of the event, late entries may be accepted at the discretion of the America’s Cup organizers.

The Challenger numbers are just two more than than for the 34th America's Cup sailed in AC72 foiling catamarans.

Earlier the Challenger of Record, Hamilton Island Yacht Club (AUS), announced that they would not be entering the event after having been accepted as the original Challenger, and negotiated a Protocol, which was modified in significant aspects within a week of being announced. The Australian club dropped out for financial reasons.

Three of the Challengers announced are commercially based teams, reliant on raising substantial sponsorship if they are to compete in the Event. To date the America's Cup Events Authority, under the baton of Sir Russell Coutts, have been unable to name a venue for the new next Match or the dates on which it will take place.

That indecision has some impact on the newer teams, Ben Ainslie Racing and Team France, trying to enter the market. Team New Zealand with an established coterie of sponsors, used to the nuances of the America's Cup cycle, has a more mature ongoing commercial platform.

However all sponsors will have to make a final decision to commit, once the venue is confirmed, with Bermuda and San Diego officially on the selection list, and San Francisco, the previous venue, and home waters of the Defending Club, Golden Gate YC, unable to be discounted.

Quotes from the challenging teams:

Iain Percy, Artemis Racing: 'We are not only in this competition to win the 35th America’s Cup, but to dominate the America’s Cup arena for the next decade. I’m also passionate that Artemis Racing is about more than simply winning; it’s about producing a legacy and winning in a certain way.'

Ben Ainslie, Ben Ainslie Racing: 'We are delighted that Royal Yacht Squadron Racing's challenge for the 35th America's Cup has been officially accepted. The America's Cup originates from the Squadron and it is our goal to return the Cup to where it belongs.'

Dean Barker, Emirates Team New Zealand: 'New Zealand has a long and proud history in the America's Cup. We see some formidable opposition taking shape in the 35th America's Cup and we have no illusions about the job ahead. We have been working quietly behind the scenes towards this day almost since the last day of the 34th America's Cup. Now the real work begins.'

Max Sirena, Luna Rossa Challenge: 'This is Luna Rossa's fifth challenge to the America's Cup, an historic record. Not only does it underline the attachment of our team to the America's Cup, but it also shows our determination to bring the Cup to Italy. This edition will be very competitive and our team has already been preparing for several months now in view of a challenge that promises to be spectacular and exciting right from its preliminary events, the America's Cup World Series, that will take place next year.'

Franck Cammas, Team France: 'Team France is very proud to be a challenger for the 35th America’s Cup. We are taking the first step of a journey that we know will be very difficult. With Olivier de Kersauson, Michel Desjoyeaux and our team, we are determined to represent France at the highest level from a sporting and technological point of view. I thank all of our partners and supporters, as without you, we would not even see the beginning of our journey, much less the road ahead.'

Jimmy Spithill: Oracle Team USA: 'It’s exciting to look at the roster of teams who are lining up against us.'

'We’re facing five strong challengers who have a lot of resources, talent and experience.

'But our team is very competitive. We love challenges – the bigger, the better. It’s very easy to get motivated when you see what we’re going to be facing.'

The teams for the 35th America’s Cup will be introduced at a press conference in London, England on September 9.
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