Team Origin pull out of America's Cup

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The Independent Online

Britain is pulling out of one of the pinnacle events in world yacht racing, the America’s Cup.

A shortage of both cash and time have persuaded the boss of Team Origin, Sir Keith Mills, to abandon hopes of challenging the current holder, the San Francisco-based BMW-Oracle, in 2013.

Sir Keith, who is also deputy chairman of the London Olympics organising group and a director of Tottenham Hotspur, said that: “the proposed fixed wing catamaran, the timetable, rules and costs, [mean] that the 34th America’s Cup is neither viable commercially nor an attractive sporting contest for Team Origin.”

He would not, said Sir Keith, be submitting a challenge when the opportunity opens on 1 November. “After three years of waiting in the wings, I am bitterly disappointed that we will not be competing. The format and timetable decided by the defender is simply not viable.” 

It means that Olympic gold medallists, skipper Ben Ainslie and tacticians Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, will be considering a serious return to their 2012 campaigns.

The decision, which had long been signalled, also means an abrupt change of scene for the relatively recently recruited Australian chief executive, Grant Simmer.

It is not known whether this will mean a complete disbanding of Team Origin or whether it will continue to compete in other events like the world match racing circuit, the Extreme Sailing Series in catamarans, or even returning to the Audi MedCup circuit. It is unlikely that Origin will now attend the final Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta in Dubai next month.

It is believed that Sir Keith and other partners have already spent upwards of £25m. over a period in which the Cup cycle came to a halt while there was a protracted legal wrangle between Oracle and the previous holder, Switzerland’s Ernesto Bertarelli and his Alinghi team.

The matter was resolved in February this year when Oracle, using a giant, wingsail-powered trimaran, blitzed Bertarelli’s catamaran in Valencia.

It is believed that, apart from the Italian challenger of record, Vincenzo Onorato’s Mascalzone Latino, the Swedish Artemis team and Team New Zealand, many other potential challengers have been daunted.

Simmer recently told The Independent that he thought the budget needed to win was well in excess of £100m.