European teams commit to next America's Cup

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 09:03 26/07/2014
Russell Coutts
Reuters
BIG DECISION: Oracle Team USA chief executive Russell Coutts will choose the next America's Cup venue.

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Four European challengers have presented a united front on the next America's Cup, saying they will support the  event regardless of its venue.

The regatta hit a major speed bump last weekend when Challenger of Record Team Australia withdrew.

Signs that Italian syndicate Prada might be ready to step into that role emerged today when a joint statement was issued under their flag.

"The teams Luna Rossa Challenge, Artemis Racing, Ben Ainslie Racing and Team France - jointly with the yacht clubs they represent - confirm their full support to the event, regardless of the host venue that will be selected," they said in a joint statement on a Luna Rossa letterhead.

The European rivals from Italy, Sweden, Britain and France said they would cooperate with Oracle Team USA, the holders, to ensure the 35th America's Cup set for 2017 was a sporting and commercial success.

Under the rules, Oracle need four challengers to make the regatta viable.

Team New Zealand have confirmed they are on track to compete, emphasising that in the wake of the Australian's surprise withdrawal.

Challengers had earlier raised misgivings over a number of issues presented in the new protocol when they met in Los Angeles a fortnight ago, along with representatives from Oracle.

There were genuine concerns around the possibility of Bermuda hosting the final. It has been short-listed with San Diego for that honour.

The tiny island would represent difficulties for sponsorship exposure for Team New Zealand's delicate mix of private and government backing.

Oracle has said the final venue would be confirmed before the end of the year.

While today's statement out of Europe is positive, the next challenge comes on August 8 when teams must officially enter - along with their US$1 million fee.

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