Team Australia pulls out of 35th America's Cup
Team Australia, via the Hamilton Island Yacht Club, has announced its intention to withdraw from the 35th America's Cup. This is the second consecutive time the Challenger of Record for the America's Cup has pulled the plug on its campaign following Mascalzone Latino and the Club Nautico di Roma's withdrawal from the 34th AC in May 2011.
“We are very disappointed to be receiving this news,” said Russell Coutts, Director of the America’s Cup Event Authority. “We were excited to have Australia as a challenger and we were also looking forward to the prospect of holding America’s Cup World Series events in Australia.
“But our focus going forward is with the teams that have already submitted challenges and the teams that have told us of their intent to do so before the entry deadline on 8 August."
According the Daily Telegraph in Australia, Bob and Sandy Oatley, who were behind the Aussie challenge, were finding the cost of mounting a challenge to be prohibitively high compared to their initial expectations.
To date Team Australia had been training against Oracle Team USA aboard AC45s on Sydney Harbour. 470 gold medallist Mat Belcher had been appointed skipper and there was much anticipation that the Australian port would host a regatta on the America's Cup World Series and/or the America's Cup Qualifiers.
Under article 14.2 of the Protocol for the 35th America's Cup, the Challenger of Record has to give the defending yacht club (the GGYC) no less than 90 days written warning of its withdrawal from the competition (although the GGYC may accept less).
A replacement Challenger of Record must now be found, which according to article 14.3 of the Protocol "shall be the Challenger whose Notice of Challenge was received by GGYC
first in time after the previous Challenger of Record and whose challenge is still current." At this time it is unclear which challenger this is.
There must now also be some question over the worth of holding an America's Cup Qualifier series prior to the America's Cup Challenger Playoffs.
Controversially the Qualifiers are to due to be held in a different venue to the Playoffs and America's Cup itself - something deeply unpopular with the challengers as they have to develop their AC62s for two venues rather than one. The aim of the Qualifiers is to determine the top four teams going through to the Playoffs but as now there appears to be only four challengers left - Artemis Racing, Ben Ainslie Racing, Luna Rossa and Emirates Team New Zealand - there is nothing left to determine. There remains the remote possibility of additional challenges - the official entry period closes on 8 August, 2014 and late entries are unlikely given that the Protocol states that none will be accepted until 'at least three additional challenges have been received by GGYC'.
Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR), commented: "We remain supportive of the Defender’s continued drive towards a more commercial event format, along with a more sustainable future for this historic trophy. BAR will be bidding to host two America’s Cup World Series events in 2015/16 at our new home in Portsmouth; as a key part of the road to the 35th America’s Cup. While the withdrawal of the Challenger of Record is regrettable, it is also not unusual and we will continue our own preparations for the 35th America’s Cup and look forward to an exciting future."