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America's Cup Update

Ten Challengers From Seven Countries Confirmed

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (August 30, 1996) — It's official. Ten yacht clubs from seven countries have been confirmed as official challengers by America's Cup defender Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron. The club released the official list after a lengthy process of validating the challenges received prior to the May 14 deadline.

The process took longer than expected, but the RNZYS scrutinized all the entries to ensure that each one met the challenge criteria, said Commodore John Heise. Much of the process process involves confirming the validity of the challenging yacht club and its principals. New Zealand and challenger of record New York YC agreed last year to take a harder stance with regard to yacht clubs formed by professional sailors to challenge for the America's Cup. (For more details, see the Protocol for America's Cup XXX, Article 2.)

"There has been a lot of international correspondence and telephone calls to check all the details," Heise said. "In some cases, language and procedural differences slowed the process down."

The official challengers are:

"(This) ensures a great regatta in Auckland in the year 2000," Heise continued. "If our information is correct, we believe we can expect at least another three or four challenges by the late-entry deadline next year."

The late entries are likely to come from the U.S., Australia, Canada and France, Heise explained. Waikiki Yacht Club in June announced its intent to challenge, and Dennis Conner, who is entered in the 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World Race, should not be counted out at this early stage. Farther north, at least two groups are attempting to generate interest in Canada.

In Australia, things are all quiet on the Southport Yacht Club front. The club, which last winter trumpeted its intent to challenge, has been unable to secure the financial backing it had originally counted on, according to reports from Down Under. But 1983 America's Cup winner John Bertrand, who also is competing in the Whitbread race, is still expected to throw his hat in the America's Cup ring. And in France, perennial America's Cup challenger Marc Pajot has yet to announce his plans.

Meanwhile, the Auckland Regional Services Trust has filed its planning consent application to construct a new America's Cup harbor in the Viaduct Basin area of downtown Auckland.

"If everything goes to plan, Auckland will be able to provide for the regatta in this new harbor in a development which will only enhance the international image of the City of Sails," Heise said. "The America's Cup and the contestants, for the first time, will have the opportunity to enjoy the focus and atmosphere generated by having all syndicates, including our defender, Team New Zealand, housed in one superb event venue."

The ARST is hoping have some facilities available by November next year when the first challenge syndicates are expected to arrive.

Plans call for the challenger trials to get under way in late 1999, with the best-of-nine America's Cup match set to begin Feb. 26, 2000. For more details, see the America's Cup Fact Sheet and the section on the America's Cup Defense.

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