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America's Cup- Fourth Challenger pays Entry Fee for Louis Vuitton Cup

by Richard Gladwell on 19 Jun 2012
America’s Cup World Series Naples 2012 - Team Korea first AC45 to sail in Naples ACEA - Photo Gilles Martin-Raget © http://photo.americascup.com/

Team Korea has paid its entry fee for next year's Louis Vuitton Cup (America's Cup Challenger Series) hitting another important milestone on the road to San Francisco in 2013. This marks the first time a team from Korea has challenged for the America's Cup.

'I'm very happy to see Team Korea take this next step,' said Iain Murray, the Regatta Director for the 34th America's Cup. 'The challenges faced by any America's Cup team are immense; it's just a massive project, so to see the Korean team tick another box and move to the next stage is very encouraging.'

Next, the team will need to finalize its boat design and begin building its own AC72, for which the major components must be constructed in Korea as per the Rules of the event. The design team is led by Auckland based Bakewell-White Yacht Design.

It has not been announced whether Team Korea will be using the basic design package, and purchasing a standard wingsail from Southern Spars, or if the complete package will be built assembled and launched in Korea. The minimum cost of an entry using the standard package has been put by other teams at Euro16million, a figure which is well below the budgets of other two boat teams - which has been set at five times that amount.

The sponsorship from Prada to the Italian Luna Rossa Team, also building one boat was announced at Euro40million.

Team Korea has already proven itself a solid competitor in the AC World Series and heads to the final event of the 2011-12 season in Newport this month in fifth place. The team is led by current World 49er Champion, Nathan Outteridge (AUS), who made his debut in the AC45 class this past April in Naples, and proved a quick study, leading the team to good results. A strong performance in Newport could see Team Korea finish as high as fourth place in the Season Championship.

Team Korea joins Artemis Racing (SWE), Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL) and Luna Rossa Challenge (ITA) as challengers for the 34th America's Cup. Oracle Team USA, led by skipper Jimmy Spithill and based in San Francisco, is the Defender.

Following a unanimous vote from the competitors the entry deadline for challengers was recently extended by two months to August 1st.

The announcement is a relief for America's Cup organisers, and gives new shape to the Challenger Selection Series.

They will now be able to plan on a four boat Challenger Selection Series, which will make race scheduling considerably easier, and will open the option for continuous racing on the day (with one pair racing, while the other is in pit-lane).

The fourth boat also means there will be a semi-final series, leading into a Louis Vuitton Cup Final.

At this stage assuming there are just four Challengers, the early rounds will just be a qualification round to seed boats for the Semi-Finals in some way.

Planning for the series format will not be announced until the close of entries on August 1, 2012, although the issue is expected to be discussed at the next America's Cup World Series.

Two other teams, China Team and Energy Team, are believed to be trying to confirm sponsorship and financial backing, with Energy Team (France) the most likely of the two. China Team has advised that it will not be competing in the next round of the America's Cup World Series in Newport, RI, USA.

It was Energy Team who requested that the entry deadline be extended for two months, at the last Challengers Meeting, a matter which could only be voted upon by the four entered teams, with the ACWS entries excluded from voting on this point.

Emirates Team New Zealand and Oracle Team USA are expected to be the first teams to launch AC72 catamarans in mid-July. Artemis Racing damaged their first wingsail in testing and it has not been announced when their AC72 will be launched. Luna Rossa are expected to launch their only boat, in Auckland in September.





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