America's Cup organisers to announce 10-boat fleet

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The Independent Online

Some fast footwork has enabled the America's Cup organisers to announce a 10-boat fleet for the first group of World Series races, which kick off in Cascais, Portugal, in August.

In addition to the San Francisco-based defender, Oracle, which will race two boats, the challengers were announced by America's Cup Event Management chief executive Iain Murray at the Ferry Building in San Francisco.

They include Artemis from Sweden, the new Challenger of Record, Team New Zealand, a China team, two from France, Energy and Aleph, one from Italy, Venezia, with another Italian team expected to announce at the end of next week, and one from Korea.

They will all race in the 45-foot wing-powered catamarans which will eventually be replaced by 72-foot wing-powered catamarans for America’s Cup 34, still scheduled for 2013.

But most of the financial qualifications to be a valid challenger have been dropped, allowing many teams which do not yet have their funding in place to become operational just by buying a 45-footer for between €650,000 and €700,000, a tiny percentage of a full campaign.

How many will go the distance, or whether there will be other late entries, has yet to be seen. But, faced with the prospect of having just three properly funded challengers under the old protocol, the organisers have acted to make sure that there is a show to go out on the road.

The second world series regatta is in Plymouth in September but the date for the third, in San Diego, has yet to be announced. The tender deadline for the other regattas, up to five, for the first series running through to mid-2012 is at the end of this month, followed by a validation and then contract period.