China announce America's Cup participation plans

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The Independent Online

China has announced that it will contest the historic America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013. The cup, born out of an American win off the Isle of Wight in 1851, is now held by computer software billionaire Larry Ellison’s Oracle Racing.

The 34th America’s Cup, in what will be the 162 years since, will be raced in 72-foot wing-powered catamaran multihulls and the leader of a China Team being given backing by the Chinese Government, Mr Wang Chao Yong, said in Beijing: “We have been working with some of the best worldwide designers for hulls and wings for a few months in partnership with top Chinese universities.

“This is an opportunity to showcase Chinese talents in the leading edge, hi-tech areas of both hydrodynamics and aeronautics. Our boat will then by built in China.”

Most of the sailors will be Chinese, said Mr. Wang, but, as in its first America’s Cup foray 2007, there will be a strong French influence. The team’s chief executive officer is Thierry Barot and he is bringing in top sailors from all over the world as coaches.

With the deadline for entries set for 31 March this boosts the challenger list to nine, some announced, some still to be made formal. With more announcements over the next two days, any extension of the entry deadline may not be necessary or welcome, Whether all will make it to the start line of the challenger elimination series in July 2013 remains to be seen

Britain’s Team Origin, headed by Sir Keith Mills, pulled out last year, but a serious discussion about a replacement has been underway. Sweden will be represented by Törbjorn Törnqvist’s Team Artemis and Emirates Team New Zealand, headed by Grant Dalton has said both that it intends to take part and that it still has some finance to put in place.

Italy’s Mascalzone Latino represents the Challenger of Record, but its head, Vincenzo Onorato, recently in an angry public dispute with the local Audi car company’s funding for another event, has said he still has to raise his America’s Cup finance.

Two of the three possible French challengers had talks with the Minister for Sport in Paris on Friday to discuss both amalgamation and French government support. But Stéphane Kandler’s All4One continues to work separately with Olivier de Kersauson. There has been little heard recently from Australia and Canada. There is also an Argo Challenge from a group of disabled sailors.

The America’s Cup Event Authority is also due to announce this week, two months late, the venues of the 2011-2012 World Series regattas, to be staged in identically designed and built 45-foot wing powered catamarans.

The first is due to be staged mid-July and the first three of the eight are expected to be in Europe.

In Los Angeles, Britain’s Ian Williams dedicated his win at the Congressional Cup match racing grand prix to his mother, who died mid-event.

Leukemia claimed mother Karen in midweek, but he still went on to drive his team to 17 wins, including a 2-0 sweep against defending champion Francesco Bruni of Italy for the championship. "It was a time to keep focused, part of the job," Williams said. "She was a keen sailor. It's what she would have wanted me to do."

Williams’ next appointment for his Team GAC/Pindar is his second tilt at the Extreme Sailing Series in Qingdao, China, mid-April. He then rejoins the World Match Race Tour, which he has won twice, in Marseille in May.