The America's Cup organisers have announced that Italy's Venezia Challenge has defaulted on the requirements to be a competitor in both the America’s Cup World Series and the 34th America’s Cup.
Top match racer, 25 year old, Torvar Mirsky (AUS) had only recently been announced as skipper of the team's crew to compete in the first round of the America's Cup Series due to start in Cascais, Portugal on 6 August.
Iain Murray, the America’s Cup Regatta Director and Chief Executive of America’s Cup Management Limited advised that
Venezia Challenge has been unable to meet the requirements to continue in both the America’s Cup World Series and the 34th America’s Cup. 'Following discussions and attempts to resolve in a timely way, there was an agreement to meet certain obligations by this weekend and the deadline passed.'
The Italian challenger has advised that it was unable to meet required commitments within an agreed deadline. Accordingly the Golden Gate Yacht Club, has notified Club Canottieri Roggero di Lauria which is represented by Venezia Challenge, that the Italian Challenger has been excused from further participation.
'Venezia Challenge failed to fulfil its commitments to remain eligible to continue in the 34th America’s Cup,' said Tom Ehman, Vice Commodore of the Golden Gate Yacht Club.
Rumours have abounded in the past few days about the ongoing financial viability of the Italian team, which was launched under the auspices of the Club Canottieri Roggero di Lauria. The team announced on 9 May that they had posted the then USD200,000 Performance Bond (which was subsequently eliminated in the latest version of the Protocol governing the 34th America's Cup). Recently the team had an Italian lawyer working on its behalf to raise the finance required to keep the team viable. However with today's announcement those efforts would appear to have been unsuccessful.
The Italian challenger has been removed from further participation in the 34th America's Cup under clause 9.3 of the Protocol which says: 'By 10 June 2011, all Competitors shall enter into an agreement with ACRM for the purchase of at least one AC45, and shall have paid the non-refundable deposit required by ACRM. A Competitor failing to do so shall cease to be eligible for the Event and for entitlements under Articles 5, 27 and 41, and all bonds and fees paid by such Competitor shall be forfeited. This does not prevent such a Competitor from applying for a late entry under Article 7.1 or Article 8.1.
Clearly that date had long passed, and the financially strapped Italian team had not even paid the deposit on the smaller version of the AC72 catamaran which will be used in the 34th America's Cup.
The Venezia Challenge shore team had been in Cascasis, Portugal, assembling the AC45 catamaran which had been allocated to the team for competition in the first round of the America's Cup World Series. The fate of that yacht is not known.
The move reduces the potential field for the the 34th America's Cup to seven Challengers and one Defender. However under the latest version of the Protocol there is no requirement for teams competing in the America's Cup World Series to progress to the Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup itself.
All Challengers are understood to be in technical compliance, however the next milestone will be the payment of a USD100,000 entry fee in a week's time on 1 August.
The America's Cup World Series starts in 12 days in Cascais, and will be followed by a second event in Plymouth, England and a third in 2011 in San Diego, USA.