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Waikiki Yacht Club Announces Intent to Challenge

WAIKIKI, Hawaii (June 18, 1996)—Waikiki Yacht Club announced on Friday its intent to challenge Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron for the America's Cup, scheduled for 1999-2000 in Auckland.

The Hawaiian club has not formally submitted its challenge, but will probably do so in three to four months, said Jim Bailey, chairman of the Waikiki challenge, adding that his group is not one of the two unidentified challenges announced by RNZYS last month.

If the late challenge is made official, it would become the fourth U.S. challenge, joining AmericaOne/St. Francis YC, New York YC and the St. Thomas YC. To date, the Kiwis have received 11 challenges from eight countries.

The group had not planned on making a public announcement this soon, but interest with from potential backers was higher than expected, it made sense to begin getting the word out, said Bailey, who is president of Los Angeles, California-based Excel Yachts and is the former project director/vice president of operations for the America's Challenge Whitbread Round the World Race entry.

Dr. Seiji F. Naya, director of the Hawa|'s Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism, said the island state is very excited at the prospect of hosting an America's Cup challenge, and possibly the event itself. He said his department cannot support the challenge financially, but would help promote it. "But first we want to know if they can raise the money," Naya said.

The Waikiki budget, like most America's Cup efforts, is in the US$30 million range.

A skipper for the Hawaii-based challenge has been chosen, but will not be announced until the Kenwood Cup in August. "Suffice to say it is someone of international note," Bailey said.

A team approach to the design effort will be used, with the principals also to be announced in August. Alan Andrews' name is high on the list, however, having designed offshore racers for Excel Yachts in the past. These include Excel's Growler, an ILC-40 that led the U.S. Red Team in the 1994 Kenwood Cup, but struggled in stiffer competition at Key West Race Week, as well as the Excel 53 Persuasion, which competed in the Transpac Race to Hawa| and races to Mexico.


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