First signs of regrouping by the remaining challengers for the America’s Cup have emerged in the form of a communiqué from Italy’s Prada-backed Luna Rossa.
After further talks both on a group basis as well as bi-laterally, Luna Rossa said: Following the announcement of Team Australia – representative of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, Challenger of Record of the 35th America’s Cup – of its intention to withdraw from the competition, the teams Luna Rossa Challenge, Artemis Racing, Ben Ainslie Racing and Team France – jointly with the yacht clubs they represent – confirm their full support to the event, regardless from the host venue that will be selected.”
That does not include Emirates Team New Zealand, the ultimate challenger to the holder, Oracle, in San Francisco last year. It is understood that the Kiwis have particular problems to resolve, in terms of financial support from sponsors and the government if Oracle chooses to mount its defence in Bermuda.
The carte blanche given to Oracle director Sir Russell Coutts to negotiate with both Bermuda and San Diego should come as a welcome development to the America’s Cup Event Authority. Coutts has already stated that both San Francisco, which would be the challengers’ first choice, Chicago and Newport Rhode Island have been removed from the short list for 2017.
ACEA has also been approached by the San Francisco Bay city of Alameda, which was host to Sweden’s Artemis team for the last cup, promising full support for the event and laying out a list of advantages which the mayor thinks would benefit the cup and its competitors. Oracle is understood to be reorganising its own extensive base at Pier 80.
The challengers are also keen for an early resolution to filling the vacancy left by the Australians. Both the Italians and the Swedes are said to have lodged forma challenges. In theory, the replacement Challenger of Record would be taken in chronological order of lodging that challenge and the cut-off date for AC35 – there could be mechanisms for late challengers – is 8 August. An early announcement would end speculation increased by the fact that Luna Rossa made the latest statement on behalf of four of the known five teams interested.