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America's Cup: Four Challengers confirmed

by America's Cup Media/Sail-World.com/nz 1 Jul 2019 00:05 PDT 1 July 2019
Simeon Tienpont - DutchSail walkabout on the America's Cup bases - February 15, 2019 © Richard Gladwell

The Challengers for the 2021 America's Cup have been confirmed at four teams after the entry from the Royal Netherlands Yacht Club, DutchSail, advised that they were unable to make a commitment to compete by the July 1 deadline requested by the Defender, the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.

DutchSail, the late challenger from the Netherlands for the 36th America's Cup presented by Prada have advised the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron that they are withdrawing from the 36th America's Cup.

Led by twice America's Cup winner, and top Volvo Ocean race competitor, skipper Simeon Tienpont, said that despite having received such strong backing from the local marine industry and interest from a number of commercial entities they have confirmed to Sail-World in an interview that they were unable to secure a naming rights sponsor. All other financial components were in place, at a level for the team to proceed. The team also had the assurance of strong backing from the Dutch government.

Tienpont told Sail-World the amount sought for the naming rights sponsorship was at about the same level as his team had obtained for the 2017/18 Volvo Ocean Race,

Yesterday, the other late challenger from the Long Beach Yacht Club - Stars + Stripes Team USA confirmed their ongoing commitment in a press statement. The Long Beach Yacht Club Commodore, Camille Daniels said: "Long Beach Yacht Club is committed to making the start line at the first America's Cup World Series Event in Cagliari, Italy, our membership is excited and we are all working hard to achieve our goal of bringing the America's Cup to Long Beach".

Mike Buckley, Co-Founder and Skipper of Stars + Stripes USA said, "We appreciate the continued support of LBYC and its membership, and the assistance of Emirates Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, over the past few months as we have reorganized our team. We continue to make progress with corporate partners, and believe we will have what it takes to be competitive in Auckland."

As part of their commitment Stars + Stripes Team USA will have to complete the entry fee payment process before they will be eligible to race in the first America's Cup World Series event in April 2019. Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron have advised that the second America's Cup team have already paid their initial payment but as a late entry challenger under the Protocol they also have a liability to pay a US$1million late entry fee due in instalments by 1 October 2019.

Sail-World has been in contact with skipper Mike Buckley and expects to interview the co-Founder of the team, Mike Buckley within the next week, as both are currently travelling.

The other three teams, Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, INEOS Team UK and American Magic NYYC are all fully paid up entries.

The fact that there are now four challengers has added a new level to the Prada Cup for the Challenger Selection Series, as two teams will now exit the regatta after the conclusion of the Semi-Final phase. Had the DutchSail challenge proceeded, one team would have also been eliminated at the end of the Round Robin phase of the Qualifiers.

Royal Malta Yacht Club were the first of the three Late Entries to withdraw, after a $40million package promised by backers failed to eventuate. The three Late entries were part of an eight team line up that lodged Late Challengers on the final day of entries, November 30, 2018. Only three of these were accepted by Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. Two of them were unconditional while a third, the DutchSail Challenger did have some conditions attached which were resolved before the Challenge was accepted.

Sail-World's New Zealand Editor, Richard Gladwell is in Europe and conducted an in-depth interview with Simeon Tienpont, on Sunday evening (European time) and will publish as soon as possible.

Despite claims of America's Cup budgets being in excess of USD100million DutchSail have told Sail-World their budget was €35million value in kind and €25million in cash for what was initially to be a one boat campaign.

All three Late Challengers were the subject of some times caustic comment by other media, about their campaigns and chances of competing in the America's Cup, however Tienpont was quick to praise and thank both Emirates Team New Zealand and Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli for their assistance and constructive efforts with the first ever Dutch America's Cup Challenge.

As yet, there is no commitment from DutchSail as to whether they will shift their attention to the upcoming The Ocean Race. Sailing Team AkzoNobel, Simeon won the leg into Auckland and later set a 24-hr distance record for a Volvo65, she became only the second yacht in history to break the 600nm mark in sailing history.

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