Germany's America's Cup Challenge
The future of illbruck, Germany's first attempt at the America's Cup, is on shaky ground.
Syndicate chairman Michael Illbruck has announced that more sponsors are needed if illbruck are to continue their campaign.
With a round-the-world campaign already on the go, illbruck were always going to find it tough financing a cup campaign as well.
`Our first priority was to succeed in the Volvo Ocean Race and we are on track toward that goal,' said Illbruck, whose team is the overall leader after three legs of nine.
`The America's Cup Challenge for 2003 was always intended to get Germany into the
America's Cup, because we believe that only a long-term vision on the America's Cup will bring the cup to Germany.'
He said illbruck's success so far in the round-the-world race demonstrated that Germany could compete with professional sailing teams. He hoped corporations would see this as an opportunity to get on board and ensure Germany's place in the America's Cup regatta.
Illbruck is making the sponsorship search his personal priority and is prepared to give a major backer title sponsorship and branding of the America's Cup team and boat.
`While we are in serious discussions with several sponsor candidates, we have yet to sign a cash partner. If we are not able to secure additional funding, we will not be able to continue with preparations.'
Regardless of their financial worries, illbruck's cup preparations are well advanced.
The hull of GER 68 is nearing completion in Bremen. Their base in Auckland is fully fitted with a sail loft, boat shed, mast shed and offices. Team meteorologist Chris Bedford has been running an extensive programme in Auckland, collecting data critical to cup preparations.
`Since announcing the America's Cup Challenge in November 2000, we made it clear we would need additional partners to continue with a winning America's Cup programme,' said Illbruck.
`After all the work the team has invested into this campaign, it would be a huge disappointment if they were unable to compete in the Louis Vuitton Cup in October.'
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Russell Coutts' Team Alinghi may have discovered a loophole in the America's Cup Rules that may allow one competitor to win easily.
The Louis Vuitton Cup and the America's Cup match itself are raced on International America's Cup Class boats.
These yachts are designed to comply with extremely precise standards - the America's Cup Class Rules.
The aim of these rules is to guarantee a fair competition.
But historically these rules are overpowered by the Deed of Gift.
The Deed of Gift founded the cup, and dates back to October 27 1887.
Team Alinghi's Hamish Ross, a specialist in the cup's rules (he is writing a book about the Deed of Gift) found the following paragraph in the deed:
`Centreboard or sliding keel vessels shall always be allowed to compete in any race for this cup, and no restriction or limitation whatever shall be placed upon the use of such centreboard or sliding keel, nor shall the centreboard or sliding keel be considered part of the vessel for any purposes of measurement.'
That, for example, could mean one syndicate could build a deeper keel than the others, giving them more leverage.
As a result of their finding, Alinghi could have built a boat with much greater performance capabilities than their competitors, but which does not respect the spirit of the competition, or asked the cup's arbitration panel to make a clear ruling on the matter, determining whether the Deed of Gift or the Class Rules prevail.
Alinghi chose to ask the arbitration panel, and their ruling is keenly awaited by all challengers - as well as the defender.
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French challenger Le Defi Areva have been allotted sail number 69.
America's Cup Class technical director Ken McAlpine has confirmed that the number was not going to be used (along with No 13) after GBR Challenge declined it and was allotted sail number 70.
At the specific request of Le Defi Francais, and with the approval of America's Cup 2003 and the Challenger of Records committee, sail number 69 was released to the French.
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A Challenger of Record Committee regatta will be held in Auckland in the first weekend of March.
The regatta gives the challengers the chance to square off against each other, but its main purpose is to trial race committee staff for the Challenger series in October. All of the Challengers are expected to take part.
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It seems there's no shortage of athletic ability at GBR Challenge.
Having won the team prize in the Manukau Half Marathon, GBR were successful in a soccer tournament and orienteering competition organised by the Ocean race officials while the round-the-world fleet was in town. GBR finished second in the orienteering competition and, with three teams entered in the soccer competition, finished first and third in the 12-team event.
GBR owner Peter Harrison, himself a director of Chelsea Football Club, would have approved of the commitment and intensity shown by his lads on the soccer field.
He will also be pleased that there were no injuries and everyone was back sailing the next day.
Team NZ Secrets Sold
An Auckland lawyer accused of peddling America's Cup secrets has deepened the spying scandal by claiming Black Boat designs were obtained by an American rival during the Team New Zealand break-up.
Sean Reeves, who left Team NZ in 2000 and lured others with him to the One World syndicate, claims in US court papers that Team NZ technology which took years to develop was among information which the Americans were able to obtain.
The documents name seven men from prominent syndicates, including five New Zealanders. Reeves' allegations - which come as Team NZ prepares to battle One World in an America's Cup practice regatta starting on Monday - are in a statement of defences and counterclaims filed in the US District Court in Seattle this week.
Reeves, a former Olympic sailor from Devonport, has gone on the offensive, suing One World for defamation for its writ filed in the King County Superior Court in Seattle last year.
That writ accused him of trying to sell $6 million of One World's secret design and technical plans to rival syndicate Oracle Racing through old friend Chris Dickson.
The 40-year-old denies offering any secrets to Dickson during an international telephone call.
Reeves left One World, headed by billionaire Craig McCaw, last May, citing disagreements over the direction the syndicate was taking.
In his affidavit, Reeves alleges:
" One World obtained, for $3.5 million, design plans which were exact replicas of the boats NZL57 and 60, effectively allowing the Americans to race the `next generation' of Team NZ yachts.
" Also arriving at One World were dozens of colour photos of tests and models.
" Details of a revolutionary millennium rig which took Team NZ three years to develop cut One World's duplication effort to three months.
" Some new syndicate members violated America's Cup protocols, in one case delivering internal fittings designs to One World.
" Crucial design and technical information arrived at One World on disks compiled before Team NZ purged its computers.
Reeves says this enabled the Americans to produce on demand almost any design or specification of any Team NZ boat.
" A folder entitled `Team NZ Laminate Specifications' also arrived at One World.
Approached for comment last night, Team NZ chief executive Ross Blackman said he was deeply disturbed at the explicit allegations.
He would not comment further until he had seen the full details.
Attempts yesterday to contact the New Zealanders identified by Reeves in his court documents were unsuccessful. Some are back in Auckland with new teams preparing for the next Cup.
Reeves said last night that he believed the loss of Team NZ's secrets had badly damaged the syndicate. `Now it's happened, I'm fearful for Team NZ's ability to keep the Cup.'
The loss of design information was even worse than the syndicate realised.
Team NZ really owed it to the New Zealand public and supporters to make sure the matter was fully investigated.
He also believed action had to be taken against One World under the Cup protocols, otherwise the rules were worthless.
Reeves also says a senior boatbuilder from America True and a sail design expert from Prada took pictures and design data from their syndicates to One World.
He said the only confidential information he held after he left One World was a copy of the Team NZ designer's $3.5 million package, which was now with a lawyer for safekeeping.
Reeves has accused One World of committing `numerous violations of the protocol governing the 2003 America's Cup competition' by accepting the information delivered by staff it lured from other syndicates.
He claims that during his phone discussion with Dickson, they discussed whether Cup protocol permitted designers and sailors to transfer to other syndicates and take their technical information with them.
Reeves said Dickson seemed `extremely interested' in the concept, but said during a later conversation that it was a high risk.
Reeves said he believed Dickson made the allegations against him to protect Oracle Racing from any suggestion that his discussions had constituted a violation of the reconnaissance rules of the Cup.
One World spokesman Bob Ratcliffe said last night that there would be no comment on Reeves' allegations while the case was before the courts.