Following the announcement from Prada that they were unlikely to proceed with a further America's Cup Challenge - A second syndicate has made a conditional announcement that they will be continuing.
Peter Harrison, Founder and Chairman, and other members of the GBR Challenge Management Team announced today a plan for a conditional second challenge which focuses on two areas:
· A design and development programme
· A plan to attract commercial partners to participate in the next campaign
Peter Harrison commented, "We are committed to ensuring that GBR Challenge is in the best possible position to progress forward. The experience we have gained in this New Zealand campaign is invaluable and we all know that to win, there is no substitute for ongoing momentum and participation."
The design and commercial partnership programmes will start in the UK in April 2003 and will be led by Derek Clark and Leslie Ryan respectively.
As Peter Harrison announced at the January 2003 London Boat Show, it is his intention to put together a second challenge but he has made this conditional upon attracting commercial partners to work with the team in meeting the funding objectives and to share in the benefits resulting from such involvement.
Leslie Ryan, Head of Sponsorship and Marketing, explained "For this current campaign we were successful in attracting 32 sponsors from a standing start to support us - mainly as goods in kind deals with some cash contribution all amounting to around £3m worth of support. In going forward we obviously need to raise our game and attract more substantial commercial partners. We now have the benefit of a track record together with a possible 3 to 4 year period ahead of us in which to attract commercial partners to work with us. We need to use this time sensibly to need to assess our past approach to attracting commercial partners to GBR Challenge and package together a compelling proposal - whenever and wherever the next America's Cup is to be held."
Following on from the completion of the team's testing programme to Christmas 2002, the GBR Challenge Management Team have put together both a 12 and an 18 month plan based upon what might be a 3 or a 4 year campaign depending on the outcome of the racing.
Derek Clark, GBR Challenge Design Co-ordinator, commented "Our design team has been working here in Auckland since the completion of our testing and race programme. Our learning over the last 3 months has been invaluable. This announcement is a great boost to the whole team and will provide an excellent platform for success in the next America's Cup."
Design team members include Rob Humphreys, Phil Morrison and Akihiro Kanai. Confidential discussions are also underway with a view to strengthening that team with current America's Cup designers but for obvious reasons these discussions are confidential at this stage.
There will be no sailing programme in the plan for 2003 and schedules will only be decided when the next America's Cup Defender, venue and timing are known. GBR Challenge is very keen to retain and build on the talent and experience they have developed within the sailing team and during this year the sailors will be able to pursue their own programmes before the longer term schedule is finalised and a team pulled back together.
Ian Walker, Skipper, commented "The entire GBR Challenge team have been involved in a review process which has been invaluable. Understandably there is no sailing programme in the plan for 2003. The focus will be on design and fundraising and the sailing activities will be defined once more is known about the next event. For that reason I intend to pursue my interest in the Olympics and other sailing projects. My close relationship with Peter Harrison and the team will continue - one of my ambitions is still to be part of a winning British America's Cup Team."
The advantage to GBR Challenge of continuing into a second challenge will undoubtedly be the fact that they are starting off with the two current AC boats and a considerable database of experience and performance together with the basis of a talented design team. The America's Cup is essentially a design technology race and GBR Challenge has demonstrated that they could put together a very successful sailing team in only 18 months. The emphasis in this initial programme is on continuing design development in which key members of the sailing team are involved.