Sailing: Coutts and Cayard plan for grand prix

A €50m (£33.3m) bid to establish a new grand prix of world yachting was launched yesterday by the triple America's Cup winner Russell Coutts and Volvo race winner Paul Cayard yesterday. The World Sailing League is designed to rival the already established world match racing circuit, the series of build-up regattas for the next America's Cup and the Volvo round-the-world race.

A new breed of radical 70-foot catamarans is being designed and an initial fleet of 12 is planned. Each will cost about €6m (£4m) a year to run and, in contrast to the America's Cup, nationality rules will require at least 50 per cent of the crew to represent the flag on the back.

As yet no venues have been decided and no teams, other than those headed by Coutts and Cayard, have been announced. The pair hope to have events on all five continents and to run the first circuit in 2009.

The announcement follows a promise of backing from Portuguese sports promotion company Lagos Sports, headed by the former Davis Cup tennis player Joao Lagos.

Coutts said: "By having all the boats built to the same design the emphasis will be on the athletes."

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