Racing cancelled in Audi MedCup

With all Audi MedCup racing cancelled in a drenched and miserable Cagliari the focus turned to the introduction of a new class to join the circuit next year, confirmation that Audi will back the event for three more years, and some dithering on the part of the America's Cup challengers.

A meeting of members of the World Sailing Teams Association delayed its nomination of two members of the America's Cup Race Management board. Each shareholding team must now send two names and information about their chosen candidates to the ceo of the WSTA, Laurent Esquier, in the next 10 days.

The WSTA chairman, Paul Cayard, who is likely himself to be a candidate, expects the whole process to be completed by the middle of October and then reviewed at the end of March, by which time challenges have to be lodged with the defender, BMW-Oracle. This allows for participation of challengers who are not shareholder members of the WSTA.

Which should suit Oracle very well as the longer the challengers take to organise themselves into a coherent body the longer Oracle does not have to think about divide and rule and the shorter the time until the Cup in 2013. The challenger of record president Vincenzo Onorato has already said he sees no need tor the challengers to meet as a group. Oracle had been a keen supporter of the former Challenger Commission.

For most of them, not least Britain's Team Origin, the main problem is raising money.

The challengers are uneasy about some of the implications of the protocol for AC34, which was launched in Valencia two weeks ago. By staging the Cup in 2013 rather than 2014 they have less time to put their finances in place, unless they already have a very rich backer, and less time to develop the new 72-foot wing sail catamarans.

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By stipulating no regattas in the new boat in 2011 and then only 10 before going into the challenger elimination series, that most valuable commodity of time is significantly reduced.

Add to that bans on testing and development periods – justified as a cost-cutting measure – and the pressure is increased. The new rules would allow challenging teams to share design development and test against each other, but so could Oracle, who could choose to co-operate with other defence teams or help struggling would-be challengers.

For the TP52s and the MedCup circuit came confirmation that Audi has renewed its sponsorship for three more years and that at least eight Soto 40s will replace the four or five GP42s, which are establishing a programme at other existing regattas.

The eight are made up of three teams from South America, where the class was launched in Argentina, three from Spain and two from France. Unlike in South America, the boats can be fully professionally crewed.

There is also interest from Britain for a boat which, at €350,000, is half the price of a GP42 and a third the price of a TP52.