With the passing of the entry deadline for the 31st America's Cup passing on the 31st March 2011, event organisers have announced that seven more teams have entered (with five accepted, so far) and the first venues for the new America's Cup World Series has also been announced.
The entry numbers compare well with previous America's Cup both in terms of numbers of teams and the regional distribution. The team numbers are slightly inflated due to the the fact the organisers now count the Defender team(s) as entries where in previous Matches only the Challenger numbers have been scored.
Nevertheless the numbers are very impressive and are substantially more than even the most optimistic predictions six months ago, when eight teams would have been an optimistic hope.
AC72 Graphic from Aleph Equipe de France -
Two of the regattas clash directly with Extreme 40 events being Cowes from 6-12 August when the AC45's are due to be sailing in Cascais (POR) from 6-14 August. And the next in Trapani (ITA) from 16-18 September clashes with the AC45 event scheduled for Plymouth (GBR) 10-18 September. The Cascais event also clashes with the Pre-Olympics in Weymouth which will be the focus event for sailing media.
Given that there is arguably a higher quality fleet in the Extreme 40 series with the likes of the powerhouse America's Cup teams of the 2000-2007 era Luna Rossa, Emirates Team New Zealand, and Alinghi and 2013 Challenger Artemis Racing plus several other longstanding top multihull teams it is a distinct possibility that the 'B' teams will in fact sail in the AC45's. The reality is that most serious teams won't have an 'A' and 'B' team needing a crew of 11 for the AC72 and will just distribute crew between the the events.
The announcement that there will be only three (so far) events in the 2011 AC45 series will work heavily in favour of those teams Artemis Racing and Emirates Team New Zealand who have entered the nine event Extreme 40 series - enjoying a total of 12 multihull regattas in 2011.
America's Cup Event Management have taken the unique approach of not staging and AC45 event in a challenger nation. With Portugal and Britain being selected neither of who are believed to be amongst the four unannounced challengers. It was later confirmed that a new Defender team was not amongst the group of 15. Contrast this approach with that of the Volvo Ocean Race who will allocate a stopover to each entry nation and one wonders how much emphasis is on development of home fan bases for the 2013 America's Cup. Surely one would have expected with 11 Challenger nations involved that the AC45 series could have been staged in at least one of those in 2011.
The original Protocol for the 34th America's Cup called for three AC45 regattas as part of the America's Cup World Series, to be staged in 2011, with a further seven events in 2012 and three in 2013, with a provision for more to be held after the Match in September 2013.
On that basis, ACEA have delivered what was required for 2011. The dates of the third event in the 2011 series in San Diego have yet to be confirmed.
Of the new challengers named, Venezia Challenge firmed up a process which had been publicly running since June last year. They confirmed their challenge a day ahead of the official close of entries, and interestingly while they could name their Art Director, could not name a skipper or other key sailing crew.
Of the five teams said to be undisclosed in the official release, one Venezia Challenge has outed itself ostensibly before the ACEA announcement. Another team is expected from Korea, leaving five others - none of which are new Defence teams.
According to the official release there are currently there are eight teams from seven nations entered. Venezia Challenge makes that nine from seven countries, so it reasonable to deduce that to get the maths to work that the new teams will all come from unique nations. However the maths in the release talks of eight named teams and five unnamed teams which adds up to the 13, with two more teams in the 'vetting' process bringing the total to 15 teams in total.
A media release issued by Venzia Challenge inadvertently named Sail Korea Yacht Club as a Challenger.
In an interview broadcast on Newstalk ZB today, top international yachting commentator, PJ Montgomery spoke with America's Cup Race Management's Iain Murray, who on one hand talked of 'if' the teams entered all fronted for the ACWS, and on the other talked of five or six teams queuing up to take ownership of the sixth AC45 currently under construction at Core Composite Builders in Warkworth. The release from America's Cup Media:
The new era of America’s Cup racing has attracted 15 teams from 12 countries who will begin their quest for the Cup with 2011 America’s Cup World Series stops in Cascais, Portugal; Plymouth, England; and San Diego, California.
As the entry period closed at midnight on March 31, 14 challengers had filed applications for the 34th America’s Cup to be held in San Francisco, September 2013. Twelve of these have been validated while the remaining two teams will be checked against the qualifying requirements in the coming days. With ORACLE Racing previously accepted as the defense candidate, a total of 15 teams could be confirmed.
'Fifteen teams promises an exciting America’s Cup World Series, Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series and ultimately 34th America’s Cup Final,' said Iain Murray, Regatta Director and CEO, America’s Cup Race Management (ACRM). 'The new wing-sailed, multi-hulled yachts will be fast and physically demanding, keeping the racing dynamic and interesting until the finish. We are looking forward to seeing these teams on the AC World Series circuit later this year. It is time to go racing.'
The current list of vetted and accepted competitors is a geographically diverse field: ALEPH EQUIPE DE FRANCE (France), Artemis Racing (Sweden), China Team (China), Emirates Team New Zealand (New Zealand), Energy Team (France), Mascalzone Latino (Italy), ORACLE Racing (USA), Team Australia (Australia), and five undisclosed teams.
America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA) revealed the inaugural AC World Series would begin in Europe in August of 2011. Formal announcements will be made with officials in each individual city. 2011 AC World Series Schedule
August 6 -14
The Cascais press conference will be held April 4 at 3 p.m. local time at the Casa de Santa Marta, near the Marina, in Cascais.
The Plymouth press conference will be held April 1 at 11 a.m. local time at the Holiday Inn, Armada Way in Plymouth.
San Diego, California
Dates TBD, to be set between mid Oct. and early Dec.
'We have selected venues that reflect both the prestige of the America’s Cup, as well as can bring the action on the water to those on land,' said Richard Worth, Chairman, ACEA. 'Similar to San Francisco, all of the inaugural AC World Series venues enable spectators to watch the racing live, which will help expose this great sport to more people worldwide.'
The AC World Series is a regular circuit of regattas that will bring America’s Cup-level racing and experience to top international venues. Televised to expose millions more fans to the sport of high-performance sailing, the AC World Series will feature both fleet and match racing at each event. At the end of each AC World Series season, a champion will be crowned. These events provide the fans the only opportunity to see all of the America’s Cup competitors racing together. The schedule for the second half of the inaugural AC World Series circuit will be revealed by October of this year.
ACEA is making significant progress on broadcast partner and sponsorship discussions, backed by a robust commercial offering that includes a high level of AC World Series events in the years leading up to the America’s Cup Finals, a new CSR program and a full broadcast and online strategy. The first broadcast partner will be announced in the very near future.
The first official partner of the America’s Cup, Louis Vuitton, announced last November the continuation of its long association with the oldest sailing trophy. The America's Cup Challenger Series is once again called the Louis Vuitton Cup, recognizing the brand’s long partnership with the America’s Cup. In addition, Louis Vuitton is Official Timekeeper for the America’s Cup World Series competitions.
'We are thrilled to continue our 30-year partnership with the America’s Cup,' declared Yves Carcelle, Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton. 'We are delighted to welcome these challengers from all over the world and we believe that the 34th edition will be the best America’s Cup yet.'
'With the modern multihull, we can expect a fantastic show in the main venues around the world for the AC World Series in 2011/2012 and the next America’s Cup in the bay of San Francisco, where sailing is both a tradition and a passion,' said Pietro Beccari, Executive Vice President, Louis Vuitton.