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America's Cup: Team NZ confirms working with new Challenger

by Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/nz 25 Sep 2018 07:00 PDT 26 September 2018

Emirates Team New Zealand has issued a statement confirming that they interacting with a third Italian team, Columbus 2021.

The Challenge first surfaced on September 8 and will be based at the Imperia Yacht Club.

"The Defender confirms that there have been communications with the lawyer acting for the Columbus 2021 challenger over the past few weeks. He has now supplied preliminary documents in relation to their yacht club and we have provided him with the required details on the process to file a formal Notice of Challenge."

In a report yesterday in the Italian newspaper La Stampa, echoed in the authoratiative Italian sailing magazine, Farevela, it was confirmed that a lawyer for the new team had filed the first set of documents with the America's Cup Defender. Those papers confirm that the club meets the minimum requirements of the Deed of Gift and Protocol governing the 36th America's Cup.

The fact that the first part of the entry documentation had been received was confirmed in the statement from the Defender issued on Tuesday.

It would seem that the Columbus 21 team is in negotiations with a skipper who is in the process of selecting a crew which will be a mix of Italians and "Anglo-Saxons". The same story also hinted that the Protocol requirements over sailing crew nationality may be eased.

The Columbus 21 Challenge was officially launched at an impromptu press conference during the Vele d'Epoca on Sunday.

It will be a two-boat challenge with the two boats being built by Adria Sail by Maurizio Testuzza, who built the Whitbread and Fila di Giovanni Soldini hulls in Fano. "We have little time, we will work day and night", he told La Stampa.

The team will buy an AC75 design package from Emirates Team New Zealand and will be aiming for a June 2019 launch date.

La Stampa reports that the team also announced its first sponsor, the Italian arm of San Francisco based real estate company, Coldwell Banker.

The team's budget was put at 50-80million Euros (NZD$90-140 million).

If it goes ahead the Columbus 21 Challenge will require a two boat base - meaning there will there will be space for just one more team on Wynyard Point.

Late entries close on November 30, 2018. However, Emirates Team New Zealand have indicated that with the agreement of Challenger of Record, Luna Rossa that time could also be extended further.

There has been no further developments from the second Italian team, the Sardinia Challenge. Similarly with the Team US 21, which said it was one US$10million sponsor short of lodging a formal Challenge. Other teams contemplating a Challenge come from Norway and China.

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