Team Shosholoza is one of the first of the 2007 America's Cup challengers to accept an invitation to compete in a new international match racing regatta, the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, to be held in New Zealand early next year.
The South African's have also mooted the idea of a similar follow-up event to be held in home waters off Durban .
'I was informed directly about the Auckland series by Bruno Trouble of Louis Vuitton when I was in Paris recently. Of course I have accepted their invitation. It is very exciting news and I have expressed my satisfaction to Bruno for the magnificent idea. In fact it is the best news we've had since the end of the 32nd America's Cup in Valencia last year,' said Captain Salvatore Sarno, Shosholoza founding managing director.
'I have also suggested to Bruno that he start to think about a Louis Vuitton Indian Ocean Cup to be raced here in Durban in May-June 2009,' said Capt Sarno.
Sarno said a high-profile event like this would present another 'very good opportunity for the Team to continue to showcase South Africa ahead of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.'
In the meantime Team Shosholoza will plan to be in New Zealand from 22 January for the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series which will be held from January 31 to February 14.
'There are still a lot of logistics to be worked out. If the proposed 33rd America's Cup had gone ahead as planned for 2009 we would already have been racing. But this will be good for bringing the team together again and especially to be racing against other America's Cup teams. We are looking forward to it,' said Captain Sarno.
Sailing websites and news agencies are buzzing with news of the Louis Vuitton announcement which was made at a press conference in Auckland on Monday evening. The regatta will be held in association with the New Zealand Government, Auckland Agencies, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, SKYCITY Entertainment Group and Emirates Team New Zealand.
Press conference of Nobel Peace Prize winner,Desmond M Tutu, patron of Team Shosholoza in Port America’s Cup. - ACM 2007/Carlo Borlenghi Click Here to view large photo
Emirates Team New Zealand were the winners of the 2007 Louis Vuitton Cup - the challenger series which decided which of the 11 challenging teams from 10 countries around the world would square up against America's Cup defending champions Team Alinghi for the 2007 title in Valencia, Spain. Alinghi were ultimately the victors in July last year in what was described as one of the closest America's Cup matches in history.
Alinghi was immediately challenged to a 33rd America's Cup by the Spanish Club Náutico Español de Vela (CNEV) and a protocol drawn up for a 2009 America's Cup.
However San Francisco's Golden Gate Yacht Club represented by BMW Oracle Racing contested the validity of the protocol as well as that of the Spanish Club as Challenger of Record for the 33rd Cup. The dispute eventually went to the Supreme Court of New York and an outcome is still undecided as subsequent court rulings have been appealed and counter-appealed by both Alinghi and BMW Oracle Racing.
An article posted on the Emirates Team New Zealand website says all sailing teams that have participated in Louis Vuitton Cup regattas in the past have been invited to compete in the Auckland regatta. Organisers expect six teams will compete and Louis Vuitton will accept competing syndicates on a 'first come, first served' basis.
The Emirates Team New Zealand website quotes Bruno Trouble as saying: 'The Auckland event is neither competing with the America‘s Cup, nor part of the next America’s Cup process. The Louis Vuitton Cup, won by the top challenging syndicate since 1983 will not be at stake. A Louis Vuitton trophy will be created especially for the regatta.
'We still have a lot of work to do before the racing format is finalised and the infrastructure is in place', said Trouble About Team Shosholoza
* Team Shosholoza embraces a strong training and development component through the Izivunguvungu MSC Foundation for Youth in Simonstown, Cape Town.
* Royal Cape Yacht Club in Cape Town is the South African America's Cup Challenge Club.
* Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is the patron of Team Shosholoza.
* Team Shosholoza is sponsored by MSC Crociere and Breil Milano.