America's Cup rejuvenation continues

The fanfares promising a spectacular future for the America's Cup have been followed by two key appointments, one Australian, one British, to run not only the Cup but all of its associated events.

Designer and former competitor Iain Murray, known widely simply as 'the big man' will be the regatta director and ceo of what is claimed to be the independent America's Cup Race Management and his chief operating officer will be Andy Hindley.

The 43-year old Hindley, Blackburn born, Accrington bred and now from Hampshire, was a racer himself, a watch leader and subsequently navigator for Pete Goss. He went on to be the race manager of the Volvo round the world race and was also race and technical director of the P1 powerboat circuit.

Right at the top of his jobs to do list will be ensuring that the America's Cup World Series build up regattas and venues are an instant success.

There had been a rather eerie silence following the unveiling of the 'new era' for the Cup as potential challengers digested the implications of the blueprint for AC34, to be staged sometime in 2013 somewhere yet to be announced.

The choice of 72-foot catamarans came as no surprise and it was widely known that the cup holder BMW Oracle had long established a boat building facility north of Auckland which will no build the interim 45-foot catamaran to be used at three ACWS regattas next year and then for a Youth America's Cup from 2012.

Of more concern is that the total number of ACWS regattas, compulsory for challenging teams, has been cut to three in 2011 and three in 2013, the first in July, with a full programme of seven scheduled for 2012.

No venues have been announced, making presentations to potential sponsors more difficult, nor is the structure of the challenger elimination series yet decided as this, says BMW Oracle ceo Russell Coutts, is a matter for the challengers themselves to decide.

Murray is already under pressure to convene the first meeting of the Competitor Forum as quickly as possible. Informal moves will also be made at the Audi MedCup regatta in Sardinia next week to thrash out a common position among the America's Cup teams taking part.

There are also rigid controls on the commercial opportunities which challenging teams can include in a return on investment packages, though there is some relief that branding opportunities have, if anything, been improved.

But there is considerable unease at an attempt to centralise the America's Cup website for all the teams and also the structure of how the America's Cup races will be conducted. That has a big influence from the outset when considering designs for the AC72 cats.

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