America's Cup challengers confirmed

DUNCAN JOHNSTONE
Last updated 06:47 22/08/2014
Jimmy Spithill
Reuters
GLORY: Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill and his crew will race against the winner of five challengers in the next America's Cup.

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Team New Zealand will battle syndicates from Britain, Sweden, Italy and France with five challengers officially confirmed for the next America's Cup.

They will sail off for the right to take on holders Oracle Team USA for sport's oldest trophy.

Oracle finally confirmed the challengers after signing off the entries that were lodged on August eight.

There's a fresh feel to the challengers with Team France and Britain's Ben Ainslie Racing not involved in the last cup.

Luna Rossa (Italy) and Artemis Racing (Sweden) back up from San Francisco, along with Team New Zealand who won the challenger series but lost a dramatic America's Cup final 9-8 to Oracle.

There were no last minutes surprises among the entries despite suggestions of interest from Asia and Russia, though Oracle are able to accept late challenges at their discretion.

The arrival of Ainslie's outfit, after he played such a crucial role on board Oracle, will certainly make the challenger series more competitive, as will the growing comfort amongst the syndicates with the foiling catamarans.

The French face a game of catchup on all fronts though, while Ainslie's team will have work to do in the design room.

Team New Zealand's Dean Barker said they had been quietly working on their challenge since last year's heartbreak and were  ready to ramp things up.

"New Zealand has a long and proud history in the America's Cup. We see some formidable opposition taking shape in the 35th America's Cup and we have no illusions about the job ahead," Barker said.

"We have been working quietly behind the scenes towards this day almost since the last day of the 34th America's Cup. Now the real work begins."

Oracle skipper Jimmy Spithill said the five challengers were a motivation for his team.

"It's exciting to look at the roster of teams who are lining up against us," Spithill said.

 "We're facing five strong challengers who have a lot of resources, talent and experience. But our team is very competitive. We love challenges - the bigger, the better. It's very easy to get motivated when you see what we're going to be facing."
The 35th America's Cup begins next year with the World Series that continues into 2016.

It will be raced in smaller 45-foot catamarans at venues around the world with the challengers invited to host these.

A semifinal series is planned before the actual America's Cup match, to be sailed in either San Diego or Bermuda in 2017.

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