The World Sailing League will use a fleet racing format although a number of other innovative concepts such as time trials and slalom racing will be tested using the prototype yacht. It will also have a customised support ship to transport the boats and equipment to each venue. The ship will be akin to a transportable pit lane, with all the technology required to maintain the 70 foot catamarans.
The design of the boats will be finalized by early summer of this year with the first prototype being launched in the latter half of 2007 to allow sufficient testing and refinement. The 14 one-design yachts will start being built in 2008, ready for the launch of the series during 2009.
The new boats have been designed by a team including leading ORMA 60 naval architects, Marc VAN PETEGHEM and Vincent Lauriot PRÉVOST and are at the forefront of technology. The 70 foot catamarans will combine speed, manoeuvrability and can be raced close to shore for optimum spectator viewing.
LAGOS, a Portuguese former Davis Cup player and captain, who was awarded the Order of Merit in Portugal, founded Lagos Sports (LS) in 1977. Since then, the internationally renowned sports promoter has been associated with premier sports events, especially in tennis, and has built up an impressive portfolio. Since 1990, LS has organized and promoted an ATP Tour, International Series tennis event Estoril Open and the Lisbon Tennis Masters Cup in 2000. LS is also prominent in the world of golf, counting the PGA's European Tour Portugal Open, Madeira Island Open, Brazil's Rio & S. Paulo Opens amongst its portfolio. The company has worked in many other fields including Beach Volleyball World Cup events, WCT Surfing Events and Equestrian CSIO Lisbon and "Haute École" events as well as the Cycling Tour of Portugal. In 2007, LS will be promoting two new sailing events: the Portuguese leg of the Medcup TP 52, as well as the new RC 44 Class with an exciting event in Portugal.
LAGOS commented, 'I immediately recognized the potential of the World Sailing League and am excited about the opportunity to raise the profile of sailing here in Portugal through this international sporting event. There is also the possibility of a Portuguese venue and team, but this is yet to be confirmed.
'From the results of our detailed due diligence and conversations with potential venues, skippers and sponsors, I can confirm that the level of support for this new and innovative concept has been remarkable and we are delighted to be involved.'
COUTTS outlined why LAGOS is the ideal partner for WSL, 'We have been planning this for a long time and were looking for an organisation that would share our vision for the World Sailing League. In João LAGOS we have an entrepreneurial figure with the foresight to see the potential of these events, coupled the expertise and credibility to bring the concept to life. Our partnership with Lagos Sports, a leading event promoter allows us to make this announcement today.'
CAYARD added, 'Russell, João Lagos and I are pooling our experiences from the America's Cup, the Olympic Games and a multitude of other sporting competitions. We have taken the best ideas from sports events all over the world - and added innovative concepts - to generate an exciting new series that will maximise the appeal to sailors, sponsors and spectators. For a venture like this, it was also important that ISAF support the concept and they have confirmed they are fully behind us.'