Team Origin make preperations for America's Cup
Friday 02 July 2010
The Cowes Week stage is to be used for a major fund-raising push by Britain's Team Origin, which is challenging for the America's Cup.
By creating the 1851 Cup, in commemoration of the original race won by the yacht America, which then gave its name to the event, the British will race against the present American holders of the Cup, the San Francisco-based BMW Oracle.
The two will race each other every day from the Monday through Friday and hope to stage a re-enactment, on Thursday 5 August, of the original race around the Isle of Wight.
Oracle, backed by computer software boss Larry Ellison, won the trophy from Switzerland's Ernesto Bertarelli off Valencia in February. With the structure of the structure of the next event already emerging, a new boat design to be announced in the autumn, and the event venue by the end of the year, the pace has picked up for all the potential challengers.
This includes participation in up to six events a year in 2011 and 2012 with the cup itself being staged – the frontrunner is San Francisco but Europe could feature again – in 2013.
That means a big increase in spending, not least for Origin, which is backed by Sir Keith Mills, Olympics bid leader, and founder of Air Miles and Nectar points, plus, very much in the background, Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse.
Sir Keith, who is a director of Tottenham Hotspur and remains deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee for Olympic Games, has said that he wants a budget of about £25m. a year for a team skippered by triple gold and silver Olympic medallist Ben Ainslie.
The Origin v Oracle races will inevitably take some attention away from the Cowes Week racing, which is also the backdrop for an Extreme 40 catamaran series off Cowes Green later in the afternoon and another round the island race for Open 60s sponsored by Artemis.
But there is a new urgency to strengthening finances as former Alinghi ceo Grant Simmer settles into the same job at Origin knowing that a previous big spender, Patrizio Bertelli's Prada-backed Luna Rossa has already announced that it no longer has the America's Cup on its agenda.
In the Cowes sunshine this week has been a gathering of Dragon class yachts, which competed in the Olympic Games from 1948 to 1972. At stake has been the Aberdeen Asset Management-sponsored Edinburgh Cup, presented by the Duke of Edinburgh after he had himself been given a Dragon, which he named Bluebottle.
Near the top of the fleet of 32, as so often in the past, is the Dane, Poul-Richard Hoj-Jensen, now East Anglia-based, where he builds boats, among them Dragons.
But, with five races sailed and one left to organise by the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club, Hoj-Jensen was one point behind Klaus Diederichs of Norway.
In third place was Olympic bronze medallist, America's Cup helmsman and round the world skipper Lawrie Smith, with 1992 Olympic crew Ossie Stewart and World 505 champion Bill Masterman. But he was 10 points behind Diederichs, indicating bronze again.
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