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America's Cup: Sardinian team clarifies Challenge status

by Richard Gladwell 11 Jun 15:41 PDT 12 June 2018
Adelasia di Torres is a foundation which promotes youth offshore sailing and 36th America's Cup Challnge has been named after Adleasia a mysterious Queen of Sardinia. © Adelasia di Torres

A spokesman for Sardinia Challenge has clarified claims in a media statement issued by the team last Wednesday.

Superyacht magazine publisher, Colin Squire, who is based in Suffolk, England says a miscommunication within the team led him to the impression that the Challenge had been accepted by the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

Instead, Squire claims that the team have been in contact with the RNZYS and have been told verbally that if they submit a Challenge by the June 30 deadline, "it will be accepted".

"I was under the impression when I wrote the media statement that the Challenge had been accepted, and it is now apparent that I had misinterpreted the conversation [with team head Renato Azara in Sardinia]. It's awful - I would never in a million years send out something that I knew to be incorrect, but it appears that Renato has been given the verbal assurance that when he submits the Challenge at the end of the month, which he is aiming to do, they [presumably RNZYS] will accept it. That was a misinterpretation on my behalf, it came about through a language issue."

"He has been four or five months trying to get the Challenge together, and we can only sit and wait."

Although he has run many stories over the years on the America's Cup, Squire says he has never been involved in the Challenge process and wasn't aware of the strict procedure involved where a notice of challenge is issued, the defending club receives it, puts it through a vetting process and then decides if it complies with the Deed of Gift and Protocol and whether or not it will be accepted.

A key point will be whether the yacht club meets the validity tests in the Protocol and Deed of Gift and in particular if it holds an annual regatta on an arm of the sea.

The connection between Colin Squire and Renato Azara comes through superyachts, where Azara runs Sardinia Superyacht Services - which provides services such as berth reservations, provisioning, technical support, and logistics for superyachts visiting Sardinia and Tuscany. Adelasia di Torres is a foundation offering sailing and training to young sailors leading them to professional sailing careers. Squire is a long time marine industry publisher specialising in superyachts and aimed at the industry, owners and skippers.

Both want to take the America's Cup to Sardinia. "The idea is to get in there, win it, change the rules - so it can be more affordable and more teams take part. Unfortunately, there was this misunderstanding which only came to light on Friday."

Referring back to the media snafu of last week, Squire says that the upside is that the team has achieved a lot of publicity (it was the highest ranking story on last week). "It [the announcement] has got everybody talking about what Renato is trying to do, but it's left me a little embarrassed. We can only hope, fingers crossed, that the whole thing comes off, as I think they [RNZYS] are short of teams."

"Renato has been working on this project for five months, seven days a week - his enthusiasm is unbelievable."

Addressing the other key points in the release, Colin Squire says he has been advised that the "Sardinian Government has put quite a bit of money in, but obviously not enough. The people along the coast involved in the superyacht industry have all come together saying they will support us. One of the big telecoms companies has given their support. There seems to be plenty of people coming in behind us, and I'm almost 100% certain that it is going to go ahead."

Sail-World did email an interview request to all three parties associated with the Sardinian Challenge (including one who had responded to a previous email) on Wednesday evening (NZT) - during the working day in Europe. We received no response. We have also emailed the Team US21 Challenge to ascertain their status but have not received a reply to that enquiry either.

Entries close on June 30, 2018 NZT. Teams have to pay a USD$1million entry fee within 10 days of acceptance of the Challenge, along with a second entry fee payment of a similar amount by November 30, 2018. Late entries close on November 30, 2018 and are subject to a further USD$1million late entry fee. All accepted entries must lodge a Performance Bond of USD1million by July 28, 2018. The second entry fee may be paid in four instalments deferred to August 31, 2019.

It is understood that the team will challenge through Circolo Nautico Arzachena, which was formed in 1972 and appears to sail mostly small boats and windsurfers. Judging by its social media pages, the club will meet the criteria required of a challenging club in the Deed of Gift and Protocol for the 36th America's Cup.

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