Ed Gorman comments...

on the spectacular launch of GBR Challenge on Friday
Above: Peter Harrison addresses the assembled press and VIPs at the launch There is a lot of razzmatazz in British sailing right now because a lot of good things are going on. On this score Peter Harrison's naming ceremony for the new America's Cup Class in Cowes on Friday, Wight Lightning, went well beyond the recent pace-setter, Ellen MacArthur's announcement of her plans for the next five years at the London Boat Show. Amid all the glitz, the Royal presence, the champagne bottle that didn't break, and the swipes at Lloyds List, there was one announcement which sent a shiver down my spine. Harrison gave us a thankfully abbreviated summary of his achievements and of the progress of the GBR Challenge team and remarked that, so far, he has managed to attract only £2 million in sponsorship. This is understood to be mainly backing in kind - not cash - from P&O Nedlloyd and is covering all the team's extensive shipping costs to and from New Zealand. The current "approved rumour" from sources close to Harrison is that his original £17.5 million budget has now escalated to £22 million. Elsewhere on this website, further rumours are given airtime, suggesting Harrison's real projected expenditure might end up being close to £40 million. Whatever it is, he has so far failed to attract any significant commercial backing and in his speech to the assembled multitude on Friday, he underlined the consequences. "To ensure continuity into 2006, we require 50-50 sponsorship," he said without any further explanation. To date Harrison has proved to be malleable and flexible with his money and with his hard and fast decisions. But maybe on this one those who have been trying to rein him in all along will get their way and there may not be another challenge in 2006.