America's Cup 2017: Challengers announced for the 'Auld Mug'


Britain’s Sir Ben Ainslie could allow himself only a brief moment to celebrate clearing another hurdle on the track to winning the America’s Cup as it was confirmed that his British challenge through the Royal Yacht Squadron had been accepted, along with Italy, Sweden, France, and New Zealand.

There was no surprise dark horse from the Orient and the cup holder, the San Francisco and Golden Gate Yacht Club-based Oracle, lined itself up with the five to boost the number of teams to six which will contest the 2017 event, the 35 defence, in a venue to be decided, either Bermuda or San Diego, and on dates yet to be tied down.

Quadruple gold medallist Sir Ben has the short term problem of fighting his way to the top of the Extreme Sailing Series regatta in 40-foot catamarans in Cardiff this Bank Holiday weekend. First day back at the office on Tuesday he continues chasing a budget he has targeted at £80m. and of which his fellow-board member Sir Keith Mills says 40 per cent. is secure.

But Ben’s principal sponsor J.P.Morgan has said it is ending its support this year, perhaps influenced by the problem of being an American bank having to explain to its American customers and others why it is supporting a foreign team whose sole aim is to beat the Americans. The original John Pierpont Morgan was commodore of the New York Yacht Club and a member of several successful America’s Cup defence syndicates.

That need not be a problem. BAR has known of the need to find new backing for some time and its connections are both extensive and powerful. It says it expects to have a new title sponsor in place from January onwards.

“We are delighted that Royal Yacht Squadron Racing's challenge for the 35th America's Cup has been officially accepted,” said Sir Ben. “The America's Cup originates from the Squadron and it is our goal to return the Cup to where it belongs.”

Added fellow gold medallist, now skipper of Sweden’s Artemis, Iain Percy:  “We are not only in this competition to win the 35th America’s Cup, but to dominate the America’s Cup arena for the next decade. I’m also passionate that Artemis Racing is about more than simply winning; it’s about producing a legacy and winning in a certain way.”

The French said they were “very happy” to be back in the event but they, too, have a steep financial mountain to climb, unlike the Prada-backed Italians, whose skipper, Max Sirena, said: “This is Luna Rossa's fifth challenge for the America's Cup, an historic record. Not only does it underline the attachment of our team to the America's Cup, but it also shows our determination to bring the Cup to Italy.

“This edition will be very competitive and our team has already been preparing for several months now ahead of a challenge that promises to be spectacular and exciting right from its preliminary events, the America's Cup World Series, that will take place next year.”

Which raises some of the problems which America’s Cup Event Authority, run by Oracle team director Sir Russell Coutts, faces as he not only ties down the match venue but sets up the world series schedule. As in San Francisco, the size of the challenger fleet is smaller than hoped and three teams still have to raise money.

For the world series, Sir Ben has already said he is keen to see two of those regattas come to Portsmouth where his BAR team is building a new base and has received £7.5m. from the government as part of its job creation programme as well as £1.4m. of support, some of it in kind, from Portsmouth City Council.

Nor was any successor announced, though that is the job of the Golden Gate Yacht Club, to the original lead challenger, Australia’s Hamilton Island Yacht Club, as Challenger of Record, a role expected to fall to Luna Rossa and its Circolo Vela della Sicilia.

Each of the challengers has paid the first $1m. of the $2m. entry fee plus a $75,000 contribution to running costs. Meanwhile talks continue on everything from the format of the competition – none of the teams wants to run an elimination regatta to find the challenger semi-finalists in a completely different venue than the one which will eventually host both those semi-finals and finals plus the one-on-one winner’s best of 13 match against the defender, Oracle. That may not be known until the end of the year. It had been pulled forward to October, but now the deadline reverts to the end of the year.

And further consideration is being given to the dimensions of the 62-foot wing-powered catamaran designated in the rules as the yacht to be used. What the teams say they want is certainty for their design teams and their sponsors. 

sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
The reindeer pen at the attraction
lifeLaurence Llewelyn-Bowen's 'Magical Journey' and other winter blunderlands
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

Greens on the march

‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

Through the stories of his accusers
Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

The Meaning of Mongol

Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'