French America's Cup team Aleph-Equipe de France have announced their withdrawal from both the America's Cup World Series and the 34th Americas Cup.
Citing financial reasons, Aleph have decided to duck out of the competition just seven days before the Naples America's Cup World Series event, to be sailed in AC45 catamarans.
Naples is the first of five ACWS events to be sailed in 2012.
Aleph competed in all three of the ACWS events last year in Cascais, Plymouth and San Diego. Despite finishing third overall in the fleet racing and seventh in the match racing, they were unable to find a sponsor to take them into the next season and the 34th Americas Cup on San Francisco Bay.
Hugues Lepic, chairman of Aleph,said: "The new format of the Americas Cup and the Americas Cup World Series circuit should have enabled us to attract sponsors and to finance a highly competitive French National Team. In spite of some very promising sporting results against the best teams, the economic environment does not allow us to go all the way to San Francisco."
Philippe Ligot, CEO of Aleph, added: "We did not want to compete with resources that would not allow us to credibly challenge the best teams. France has, without a doubt, all the sporting, technical an managerial talent to win the Cup but the current economic environment makes funding a commercial team extremely difficult."
Based on their success in all forms of other multihull sailing, the French team should have been a real threat in the Louis Vuttion Challenger series and maybe, ultimately, to the America's Cup holder's Team Oracle Racing.
There are nine teams remaining in the ACWS that will sail in USA and Europe in the upcoming season.
However, only four of these - Oracle Racing (USA), Emirates Team NZ (NZL), Luna Rossa (ITA) and Artemis Racing (SWE) - have confirmed entry to AC34.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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