Team NZ confirm America's Cup challenge


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The Independent Online

With typical bravura style, the Kiwis became the first to make a formal announcement that it will again challenge for the America’s Cup, date in 2017 to be announced, venue to be announced.

The news came from the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, the club through which Kiwi challenges have been made since 1986 in every America’s Cup except the private face-off between Switzerland’s Alinghi and the California’s Oracle in Valencia in 2010.

Deadline for entries was Friday night Pacific coast time but the defending club, the Golden Gate Yacht Club and the America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA), which is controlled by the Oracle defence team boss Russell Coutts, says it will then issue only the number of teams that have indicated they wish to challenge and will only issue a list of names when they have been vetted and accepted.

Britain’s BAR has steadfastly said that it will lodge a challenge within the time limit but says it is prepared to go along with ACEA’s procedural timetable. If the British challenge is not then accepted that would cause an embarrassing problem for Sir Ben Ainslie and his Royal Yacht Squadron backers, who must, like Portsmouth City Council and even government backers, wish to be far more positive.

Similarly for Sweden’s Artemis Challenge, headed by another British Olympic gold medallist Iain Percy, and the Prada-backed Luna Rossa Challenge from Cagliari, where the initial funding has already been signed off by the fashion and luxury goods house board whose ceo is team boss Patrizio Bertelli.

The original lead challenger, Hamilton Island Yacht Club’s Team Australia, is serving a 90-day notice of withdrawal and, though a challenge cannot be conditional, the New Zealanders have made it clear that they may not be able to proceed if Bermuda rather than San Diego is the final pick as the host venue. If they do not then they would forfeit the initial entry tranche of $1,075,000, which only becomes payable after they are accepted.

Which leaves, as can only be expected in the America’s Cup, an uncertainty and a couple of mysteries. Team France has also been at the latest pair of challenger meeting in Los Angeles and, from which the New Zealanders were excluded, in London. It is still not known if they have the financial backing of which ACEA and Oracle has said it wants to be assured before accepting a challenge.

One of the mysteries is whether a Canadian challenge was properly lodged immediately after the Australians dived in, and an even greater mystery is whether a China challenge, of which rumour first ran hot and then ran cold, will be in evidence. An unlikely mystery is whether the Russians would try to challenge at a time when sanctions are being tightened by both the United States and Europe. Bermuda, a tax haven, is, of course in neither.

On the Isle of Wight, racing in Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes week was cancelled for the second day in succession as the wind refused to co-operate early enough.

On Guanabara Bay, Giles Scott won the Finn singlehander class at the Rio Olympic Games test event with a day to spare.