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12 December 2005, 09:46 am
Malaysian Challenge On The Cards
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America's Cup 2011

Reports from Malaysia claim the nation is going to mount a challenge in the America's Cup 2011. World renowned sailors Peter GILMOUR (AUS) and Russell COUTTS (NZL) are being touted as likely helms of the challenge for the event.
Taking part in the blue ribbon event will not come cheap. The price tag of US$130 million (RM490 million) includes the cost of building the racing yacht in Malaysia, paying international yachtsmen and training local sailors.

The Malaysian English-language newspaper, the New Straits Times reported on Friday that discussions are underway for Malaysia to organize a team for the Cup, which is held every four years. It is part of the plan to turn the country into a major sailing hub. Next year will see five sports centres being built to breed the sailors of the future.

The centres are the national sailing academy in Pulau Duyung,Terengganu and water sports complexes in Johor, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak.

GILMOUR said last Friday that he was willing to bring his vast organizational and sailing experience in the America's Cup to help Malaysia compete in the Cup and would ask COUTTS to get on board too. GILMOUR, who recently won the ISAF Grade 1 Monsoon Cup, is number one in the ISAF World Match Race Rankings.

COUTTS was at the helm of the last three America's Cup winners including the Swiss boat Alinghi in 2003.

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Russell COUTTS and Peter GILMOUR
in action at the Monsoon Cup
© Guido Cantini/Swedish Match Tour

'I am sure COUTTS will be excited at the prospect of working with Malaysia. He loves a challenge and a new opportunity,' GILMOUR said during a telephone interview from Perth, Australia. 'There is a good chance of both of us working together to get into motion a tangible challenge to compete in the race and even bring the Cup to Malaysia.'

'Malaysia has got the reputation of getting things done as was seen in the Monsoon Cup which was successfully organized within four months… It is perfectly poised to take on the America's Cup challenge with international partners,' said GILMOUR.

He said the success of the Monsoon Cup, which is part of the Swedish Match Tour, had put Malaysia on the world map of sailing. This visibility boosted its chances of attracting sponsors and international crew for the America's Cup.

He said while underwriting the cost of the project needs to have a home grown flavour, international organizations would also be roped in.

Terengganu Heritage Bay director Datuk Patrick LIM said there were tremendous benefits that Malaysia could derive from the project including breeding a new generation of sailors, infrastructure development, transfer of technology in boat building, sports tourism and entrepreneurship in support services.

'Apart from promoting a sporting culture of excellence, there is also commercial sense in getting involved in the event,' he said.

He said the event should be seen as a sports industry and revenue centre rather than a cost centre, especially since it would promote entrepreneurship in new industries and bring foreign exchange through sports tourism when all the infrastructures are in place.

He said since the America's Cup winner gets to host the next event, the four years preceding the event would see economic activities.

Valencia will host the 2007 America's Cup, making the Spanish port the first European venue since 1851 for sailing's oldest tournament.

K.P. Waran/New Straits Times (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Peter GILMOUR celebrates his recent Malaysian success:© Guido Cantini/Swedish Match Tour
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