Britain in low-key America's Cup bid

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The Independent Online

Britain will be back at the big table of the America's Cup for the next defence in New Zealand beginning in autumn next year. The last challenge was in Australia in 1986-7. As preparations for funding, personnel and the buying of boats have gathered pace in the United Kingdom, the Kiwis have confirmed that the syndicate has secured a base in the America's Cup alley which is Viaduct Basin.

Britain will be back at the big table of the America's Cup for the next defence in New Zealand beginning in autumn next year. The last challenge was in Australia in 1986-7. As preparations for funding, personnel and the buying of boats have gathered pace in the United Kingdom, the Kiwis have confirmed that the syndicate has secured a base in the America's Cup alley which is Viaduct Basin.

The challenge is expected to be as much a toe in the water as a blazing guns affair. While the Americans, Italians and Swiss have billionaire backing, the British team, which is expected to be supported by the Chernikeeff boss, Peter Harrison, may have a budget as low as £10m.

The group has tried to keep things under wraps as an organisation is put in place. This will include both management and a design team. But up-to-date boats have been bought from the Japanese after the Nippon Challenge syndicate announced it was pulling out. And Ian Walker, the double Olympic silver medallist, who is expected to be skipper, will have the Kiwi David Barnes alongside to train a crew that will have a strong accent on youth.

* The Vendée Globe race leader, Michel Desjoyeaux, held a 650-mile advantage to ease the pain of choppier seas in the Atlantic yesterday. Britain's Ellen MacArthur, in second place, reported that she had been catching up on a lot of lost sleep. Behind her, Marc Thiercelin still has a 180-mile gap to make up in third place.

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