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Virgin Islands Challenge Forms Alliance With Team Dennis Conner


St. Thomas, USVI - January 6, 1999 - Officials of Team Caribbean, the Virgin Islands Challenge for the Americaís Cup, announced today the campaign has formed an association with Team Dennis Conner to move forward the goal of winning the oldest trophy in sports.

Team Co-Founder, Peter Holmberg mentions, "when we announced our challenge more than two years ago, we shocked the Virgin Islands community and the sailing world by daring to believe that such a tiny nation could unite behind such an ambitious endeavor. We stated that our goals were to carry the VI flag to New Zealand; to elicit pride from all the people living in the Virgin Islands; to launch a VI Marine Program to encourage involvement in marine activities and promote career development in our most valuable asset - the marine environment; and to promote the Virgin Islands to the world. With our new association with Dennis Conner, we believe we have succeeded in carrying out many of those original goals."

Holmberg also states that, "while regional sponsors and private donors have done more than their share of funding the VI Challenge, the anticipated corporate sponsorship to complete the fund raising program has not materialized in time to meet the design and building deadlines of a new boat". This situation is not unique to the VI Challenge, Holmberg points out, stating that, "of the sixteen official challengers only two have announced they are well funded by corporate sponsorship." As a result of the lack of corporate funding, the Board of Directors voted to cease plans to build a new boat and pursue the association with Dennis Conner, a Cup veteran who has won the Americaís Cup four times.

The new association with Team Dennis Conner will translate into significant benefits for the Foundationís Americaís Cup effort, including the signing of Peter Holmberg as a key member of Dennis Connerís sailing team. In addition, the Virgin Islands will be formally recognized with identification on the boat, at the team compound in New Zealand, on co-branded merchandise and throughout the press. More importantly, key members of the Foundationís management team will serve on Connerís Advisory Council, representing the interests of both the Virgin Islands community and the Foundationís large group of sponsors and donors.

The base of operations for the VI Americaís Cup Foundation will remain intact. These operations include the VI Marine Program led by Pauline Dawes and the Virgin Islands International Match Race, an annual event run the past two years with great success under the title sponsorship of Marriott Frenchmanís Reef. This will continue as an annual event in Charlotte Amalie Harbor. In addition, sales of co-branded merchandise will continue throughout the Virgin Islands to generate revenues for the non-profit corporation.

"The Virgin Islands community will see no visible signs of change with our Cup project other than new logos on some of the team gear," stated Holmberg. "This is a win-win situation for both teams - they want and need much of what we have, and we in turn need them to make it to the Cup. They welcome our involvement and want our support".

Dennis Conner is known affectionately as "Mr. Americaís Cup" in international sailing circles. He is representing the Cortez Sailing Association of San Diego in his 8th quest for the Cup and is excited about the association. "Personally I am very excited about adding the sailing talent of Peter Holmberg to the Stars & Stripes afterguard. The addition of the key people involved with the VI Americaís Cup Challenge will be a big plus in helping Stars & Stripes win the Cup," said Conner from his offices in San Diego.

Holmberg termed Dennis Conner as a "Master of the Game" and said, "no one else will be in Auckland with the depth and breadth of experience as Dennis Conner. He will have a top notch team and has as good a chance as any Challenger to meet the Kiwis in the Americaís Cup Match. We see this as a golden opportunity to fly the VI flag at the most prestigious international sailing event in the world, which is what we set out to do when we began our Challenge. What we can learn at our first Americaís Cup with Team Dennis Conner will have an enormous positive effect on a possible future Challenge in 2002."

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