Louis Vuitton confirmed today an overwhelming response to the international match racing regatta to be sailed in Auckland, New Zealand, in February next year with 23 teams spontaneously expressing interest and seven teams which have already registered and paid the entry fee. With eight berths available in the regatta, the entries are almost closed only one week after announcing the new event.
Among the seven confirmed entries are five former Louis Vuitton Cup competitors: host Emirates Team New Zealand, BMW Oracle Racing (USA), K-Challenge (FRA), Mascalzone Latino (ITA), and Shosholoza (RSA). An Italian team and one other team have also officially entered but will announce their participation at a later date.
'We are delighted to see such strong interest from the teams for this friendly event,' said Yves Carcelle, President of Louis Vuitton.
'With such a positive response, we are working on creative ideas to bring more teams to Auckland,' said Louis Vuitton’s Director Christine Belanger.
'Exactly 25 years ago on September 26, 1983, the yacht Australia II put an end to 132 years of American domination over the oldest trophy in sport, after winning the first-ever Louis Vuitton Cup,' said Bruno Troublé, founder of the Louis Vuitton Cup. 'We are proud on the occasion of this anniversary to work on a new event which will bring the teams back on the water.
'Russell Coutts, the skipper of BMW Oracle confirmed to me today that he will come home to New Zealand to skipper his team’s yacht in the regatta.'
To be called the 'Louis Vuitton Pacific Series', the event is being held in association with the New Zealand Government, Emirates Team New Zealand, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS), Auckland City, and Sky City Entertainment Group.
All the sailing teams that have participated in previous Louis Vuitton Cup regattas have been invited to compete in Auckland from February 1 – 15, 2009.
Three daily match races are planned on a two-mile windward-leeward course laid at the entrance to Auckland's Waitemata Harbour, between Rangitoto Island and the city foreshore. There will be a daily draw to decide which yacht competing teams will sail that day.