Changes for America's Cup and Audi MedCup

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The Independent Online

The revolving doors of the America’s Cup and the Audi MedCup, two of the top six pinnacles in world yacht racing, are spinning merrily as two directors join the board of America’s Cup Race Management and the man who founded the internet telecoms system, Skype, joins the TP52 class and the Audi MedCup circuit.

Zennstrom campaigns a 72-footer called Rán (pronounced Rahrn), named after a Norse sea goddess, and is having a new boat, designed by Ralf Vrolijk, and being built by Green Marine in Lymington at the bottom of the New Forest.

He plans to drive the boat, one of least four which are being built for the 2011 season, himself, will be recruiting a top professional crew and has again turned to Tim Powell to run the project. Powell came to prominence in the Dolphin and Youth team of the 1989/90 Whitbread, now Volvo, round the world race. He was recognised as an exceptional offshore helmsman.

He has stated clearly that, despite some speculation, he is not interested in mounting an America’s Cup campaign, either on behalf of Britain – he lives in London – or his native Sweden. His endorsement of the MedCup circuit adds momentum to a class and competition which, at one stage in the 2010 series, looked in danger of stalling as some America’s Cup teams signalled their move back to a competition which has a programme of multihull racing in 2011.

When the wingsail catamarans were announced by the holder, BMW-Oracle, last month it was thought there would be three regattas in a new AC45 class of winged catamaran. Already, it seems, that has been raised to five regattas, though some venues may host more than one regatta.

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They will be organised by the newly-formed America’s Cup Race Management company, headed by Australia’s Iain Murray with Britain’s Andy Hindley as chief operating officer.

Under the terms of the ‘protocol’ for the 2013 Cup, the board of ACRM will have Murray as its ceo, a representative of BMWOR and the challenger of record, the Club Nautico di Roma’s Mascalzone Latino, and two others nominated by the World Team Sailing Association, which stages its last regatta in the Louis Vuitton Trophy series next month in Dubai.

In a telephone ballot, before which Britain’s Team Origin resigned its position, the New Zealand lawyer Jim Farmer, a long-time associate of Team New Zealand, predictably took the first seat.

Less predictable was the nomination of a Russian, Mikhail Tuzov, who is a partner in the Synergy team, which has been contesting the Audi MedCup.

Tuzov, who now describes himself as “an investor”, is a 44-year old based in Moscow, a qualified engineer, and a former deputy chairman of the Federal Grid Company of United Energy System.

It is not yet clear that Synergy will be a challenger in 2013 but, in any case, the composition of the board may change when all those who have lodged official challenges by 31 May will be given the chance to review the appointments. An attempt is being made to hold the first board meeting in Paris on 22 October.

Synergy slipped to third place behind Sweden’s Artemis after five races of the TP52 world championship off Valencia as the 2008 Audi MedCup winner Quantum, skippered by Terry Hutchinson, created a three-point lead.

A hiccough in proposed arrangements to base the ACRM in Hamble, Hampshire, has led to a wider south coast search.