France have bid adieu to their 2013 America's Cup plans, leaving the number of paid-up challengers at four.
On the eve of the August 1 midnight deadline for challenger entries, the French Energy Team announced they will not be joining Emirates Team New Zealand, Artemis, Luna Rossa and Team Korea on the Louis Vuitton Cup startline in San Francisco next July.
Led by the legendary Peyron brothers, Energy Team had entered into a license agreement with defender Oracle Racing for a base-line design package for an AC72 cup class boat, but had fallen short on finances to build the boat and sustain a Cup campaign.
The French performed strongly in the first America's Cup World Series raced in AC45s, and Bruno Peyron says they will continue to compete in the second season, starting in San Francisco later this month.
"We will shift to 'Plan B'," said Bruno Peyron. "We will compete in the AC World Series and prepare for the next America's Cup, the 35th edition, in the best possible way.
"We feel a responsibility to build on all the work we have done so far and to provide a platform for long-term success for our team and our partners. We want to be playing to win and in this instance we have run out of time for 2013."
Team Korea, who paid their $US200,000 entry fee in June, are confident of starting the build of their AC72 soon.
Emirates Team New Zealand is the only team to have launched a race catamaran so far. Oracle are planning to sail the first of their two boats this month. Artemis' plans were set back by damage to their first wingsail, and the Swedes have now moved their operations from Valencia to San Francisco to prepare for launch there.
Italians Luna Rossa are building their AC72 in Italy and Auckland, based on the plans of Team NZ's NZL2. Their sole boat will first wet its double hulls in Auckland in October.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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