Over the weekend Martin TASKER (TVNZ) reported that of the three potential Australian challengers, two had made enquiries about leasing NZL-60 and NZL-57 from Team NZ.
If the challenges go ahead the syndicates are interested in training and working their campaigns up from the Viaduct Harbour in Auckland.
One of them should be the project representing the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron which is henceforth named 'C7 Syndicate'. Kristine CONDELL, C7 syndicate CEO, said the team will not make a final decision either way on the bid until March 1, 2004.
On the other hand, it was not disclosed if the second one is the Destremau's Ozboyz Challenge, the only official candidate so far. Or a third project which could be the new team evoked by Syd FISHER (who has organised teams for the past five challenger series).
Some months ago Royal Melbourne chief commodore Alan SAUNDERS said a successful challenge against the Swiss titleholders would mean the 2011 America's Cup would likely be held outside Port Phillip Bay. Mr Saunders confirmed the squadron was negotiating with the Sydney group to run the campaign from his St Kilda pier headquarters.
"We are in discussions with a syndicate to launch an America's Cup challenge. We are extremely optimistic about the outcome,"
he said."We believe that it will definitely be in Melbourne. We believe that we are the preferred site".
"We see it as a very good thing for the state of Victoria. And extremely positive. And I'm really excited about the prospect."
The State Government and Victorian Major Events Company is aware of the proposed C7 bid.
Kristine CONDELL, chief operating officer for the as C7 syndicate, had said its budget would be $150 million and $10 million had already been pledged by a sponsor. The bulk of the bid's money would come from corporate sponsors, including overseas sources.
Ms Condell said the squadron would not be required to contribute money but provide professional advice and the location for trials.
"The reason we wanted the burgee (flag) of the Royal Melbourne Squadron is that the squadron happens to be a sailing squadron as opposed to a quasi-social squadron,"
she said. "We felt that we would have a better quality of support in terms of sailing advice.
It's a sailors' club. That was why I approached Alan (Saunders) and they embraced it straight away."
She said three people headed the syndicate, including herself and John O'NEILL, a Sydney businessman who until recently was principal dealer at Heartland Holden in Parramatta.
Mr O'Neill said the syndicate had had talks with several states and Melbourne had shown significant interest."We haven't got a fixed view on trials but certainly there would be a heavy sailing involvement in Melbourne,"
Ms Condell, a former corporate headhunter and dot-com entrepreneur, claimed the proposed bid was 'a long way down the track' but refused to name major syndicate backers.