Sailing: BMW sign up to support Oracle team

BMW yesterday threw its considerable weight behind an American bid to win the America's Cup in 2007. In a deal second only to its involvement with the Williams Formula One team, the German motor manufacturer will pump up to €50m (£33.4m) into the Oracle team headed by the software company's billionaire owner, Larry Ellison.

BMW yesterday threw its considerable weight behind an American bid to win the America's Cup in 2007. In a deal second only to its involvement with the Williams Formula One team, the German motor manufacturer will pump up to €50m (£33.4m) into the Oracle team headed by the software company's billionaire owner, Larry Ellison.

It is sending three structural engineers, specialising in carbon fibre, from the Research and Innovation Centre here in Munich, to the Seattle design office drawing the lines of the two new yachts for the next staging of the event in Valencia. A fourth engineer will be attached to act as a link. The marketing director of BMW Oracle Racing is also being appointed from Germany.

"We are equal partners," said Dr Michael Ganal, a BMW board member, adding that if they won, the company would be "very happy" to see any defence happen off San Francisco, the home of Ellison's Golden Gate Yacht Club challenge.

The team will have a whole new identity, hull decorations, logo and clothing, reflecting the hugely increased role from when BMW backed the Oracle challenge in Auckland in 2002-03, when they made the final of the Louis Vuitton challenger series.

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