Team DC lands Computer Associates

For his eighth tilt at the America's Cup, Dennis Conner - and the NYYC - have their first big backers, report by Sean McNeill/Quokka Sports

Thursday November 30th 2000, Author: Sean McNeill, Location: United Kingdom
Heralding a partnership of experience and initiative, Team DC, the New York Yacht Club's challenge for the 2003 America's Cup, today announced Computer Associates as its platinum level sponsor and technology partner.

According to Team DC director of operations, Bill Trenkle, the deal is worth $10 million in both cash and product. When added to private donations it puts the Conner-led team, which will be mounting its eighth campaign for the Cup, about halfway to its goal of raising at least $30 million for the next campaign.

"Dennis met with key people who were in charge of launching a new initiative on Computer Associate's behalf, getting the company's name out," said Trenkle. "They had an interest in sailing, the history of the Cup and the technology involved."

As Team DC's only platinum level sponsor, Computer Associates will have its logo on the bow of the next Stars & Stripes, all the spinnakers and the mainsail. For its part, Computer Associates sees the deal as a perfect opportunity to push its name into the public focus.

"This is a win, win, win situation," said Ken Fitzpatrick, CA's general manager of global marketing. "It's a win for CA in a couple of ways. It's a great opportunity to demonstrate our leading edge technology and how to apply it to something as complex as winning the America's Cup. Second, it's part of our integrated worldwide marketing campaign to improve and increase brand awareness."

Computer Associates, the world's leading eBusiness solutions provider, also is the world's third largest software company. The New York-based company has 20,000 employees worldwide and had revenue in excess of $6 billion for the fiscal year ended Mar. 31, 2000.

At midday today, when the announcement was made, its stock was trading at 26 13/16, but like many tech stocks, that number was well down from its 52-week high of 79 7/16 last January. Still, the 25-year-old software company feels it isn't properly recognized or valued by Wall Street, which has led to the new initiative.

"We hope to increase and improve shareholder value, and really demonstrate to our customers that we are a market leader that has the software that manages eBusiness. That is our place in the software industry," said Fitzpatrick.

Other efforts to promote brand awareness includes Computer Associates' sponsorship of the MacLaren F1 racing team, which finished second this year to Ferrari. Also, CA plans to launch a television ad campaign beginning next January.

Team Dennis Conner will utilize CA's technology to ensure the optimum performance of the yacht. The team will implement a variety of CA solutions to gather, store, analyze, manage and distribute information about Stars & Stripes during the many stages of the racing program.

"They have lots of business software solutions, products to interact with other software," said Trenkle. "They know more about programs and have technical minds with an interest of applying solutions to [the] design program. And they have lots of other software applications that'll help the management of the campaign, eBusiness solutions that any company can utilize, not just an AC team."

The announcement wraps a busy month for Team DC. On Nov. 9, the team signed the agreement with the New York YC to be its official challenger. That agreement had hung in the balance all summer after it was first reported last June.

Some club members balked at the idea of selecting Conner as its challenger, while others wondered if the club should sit out the next Cup after the ill-fated Young America campaign. Ken Read returns to the team to serve as helmsman. The afterguard will include Tom Whidden, Conner's long-time friend, and newcomer Terry Hutchinson, who trimmed mainsail for AmericaOne in the last Louis Vuitton Cup.

Trenkle said the crew would be comprised of almost two-thirds of the Stars & Stripes crew from the last LVC. Included in the line-up are Mike Toppa and Trenkle as headsail trimmers. One key person who won't return is Peter Holmberg, who served in the afterguard of the last challenge. Although unannounced, it is understood that Holmberg has joined Larry Ellison's Oracle Racing team. "Peter was a great guy to have on our team," said Trenkle. "We're excited to have Terry onboard. He more than makes up for the loss of Holmberg."

Team Dennis Conner is also busy on design work. Reichel/Pugh have been testing 26-foot models at the David Taylor Basin in Maryland. Two new boats are planned and will be built at New England Boatworks in Portsmouth, R.I., which built the last Stars & Stripes.

According to reports, the boats won't be launched until early 2002, about eight months before the expected start of the Louis Vuitton Cup. If that seems late, remember that Team DC didn't launch USA-55 until a month before the last LVC, and then almost made it to the finals.

First published on QuokkaSailing.com, republished with permission.

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