Britain's America's Cup challenge team step up involvement

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The Independent Online

The pace is quickening at Britain's America's Cup challenge team with an announcement expected tomorrow that not only has its entry as a preferential shareholder in the Louis Vuitton World Series been confirmed but that Team Origin's America's Cup class yacht, GBR75, will be one of four boats to be used at the inaugural regatta in Nice in November.

A pair of Italy's Mascalzone Latino boats will be equalised and the second pair will be made up by Origin and BMW Oracle's USA 76, which contested the Louis Vuitton Cup in Auckland in 2003.

This means that the Team Origin shore team will be given a work out, first in Valencia, where the boats are stored, and then in Nice. And, when the draw for boats goes that way, the Origin sailing team, with triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie as skipper and double gold medallist Iain Percy as tactician, will at last be able to race their own boat.

A decision is also imminent on whether Origin builds its own new TP52, to a design by Juan Kouyoumdjian, for next year's Audi MedCup series.

It is still possible that Origin could buy an existing TP52, allowing much more time for negotiation, but a new build could mean a decision by the end of the week.

In between, Ainslie leads the Origin match racing team in October at a Bermuda Gold Cup which is part of a World Match Race Tour which has been sold to a consortium based in Malyasia, headed by Patrick Lim and with Australian former world champion Peter Gilmour in an executive role.

In Slovenia, the opening day of the match race section of the RC44 class, enjoying the fifth of its six 2009 regattas, saw class newcomer, but America's Cup old hand, Paul Cayard notch up three wins out of five starts, one behind the man he replaced at Spain's now dormant Desafio Espanol, Poland's Karol Jablonski.

In the flat seas and shifty six to eight knot winds off the resort town of Portoroz, the 10 identical yachts were split into two groups of five, with the other group led by Jose-Juan Calero, who will also host the GP42 Global Cup at his home port in the Canary Islands in just over a fortnight.

Russell Coutts, the RC in RC44 and also heavily involved in his BMW Oracle/San Francisco challenge for the America's Cup against the Swiss holder, Ernesto Bertarelli's Alinhgi, was third equal in his group with two wins, matched by the man who succeeded his as skipper of Emirates Team New Zealand.

Dean Barker is at the helm of the Artemis yacht which is campaigning in parallel with the Audi MedCup series. Both he and his old boss had two wins in four starts, but Barker had the upper hand in their head to head.