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Yeap! We have a venue for the 35th America's Cup finals. Bermuda! June 2017! It will be the first time the USA defender is hosting away from home, but oh what a venue! Simply chosen for its Eastern seaboard TV coverage appeal after most networks said the exciting racing from the 2013 even would've been enhanced further if a suitable time zone was found to slot racing in. Wealthy and well heeled Bermuda, surprisingly, is a British Commonwealth country, it will be the fourth one to host the regatta. BUT, still to be decided is where the Challenger finals are to be held. And who will be it's main sponsor. There is early speculation that Luna Rossa Challenge and Team New Zealand have put forward proposals to provide a venue and tense negotiations are believed to be underway. Originally, as planned in the new rules, the original Challenger of Record was to host the challenger finals. That was Team Australia...who suddenly pulled out earlier this year. This opened up the possibility of another country hosting. But not necessarily fronting a team. The challenger and America's Cup finals will be using the new 62foot class catamaran, a compromise to the horrendously expensive 72foot speed demons that were almost too hot to handle in the last event. What of Louis Vuitton? Louis Vuitton, the long term sponsor of the challenger series untill 2013 said that it (2013) was their last. Citing difficult working relationships with the defenders committee and the controversy surrounding the previous event. It was hoped that New Zealand would be next host, but history has shown otherwise. Team New Zealand has remained holders of the Louis Vuitton Cup since 2007 after winning it in 1995 and forfeiting as Americas Cup holders in 2000 and 03. There has been more speculation that LV would return if Team NZ, and Auckland were hosts. But in the murky world of America's Cup, anything is likely and the idea of Italy hosting the 2017 Challenger Series definitely holds appeal with that top end market well catered for there.
Just over two months to go before the knife edge of the yachting world takes to the water on the fastest sailing boats ever. Although the incredably quick AC45 cats have produced some spectacular results, its the mighty AC72 monsters that the Louis Vuitton Cup and, ultimately America's Cup will be decided on. All teams are only allowed two AC72s. Louis Vuitton Cup racing begins July 4th and concludes August 30th with three challengers slugging it out: Sweden's Artemus Racing - the surprise favourites and Challenger of Record, along with regular America's Cup stalwarts, Italy's former Louis Vuitton Cup winning Luna Rossa Challenge - with their AC72 decked out in Chrome, and Emirates Team New Zealand - the only former winning America's Cup team still in it's current format. A match series will begin in August, followed by a truncated three way semi final series and Finals with a 'best of' 13 races, the winner needing to win 7. Oracle Team USA will be paralleling this event with a two team Defender Series picking out over the crews of Ben Ainslie and Jimmy Spithall, using the team's only two AC72s. America's Cup Finals racing begins September 7th and concludes September 21st. Where the winner of the Louis Vuitton Cup will challenge current America's Cup holders Oracle Team USA. A 'best of' 17 races will decide the winner who will need to win 9. I know that there are many out there that would rather watch paint dry or Syncronised Swimming...But this whole new generation of ultra high speed catamarans leave the past 40 knots behind them. And enevitably someone's going to crash and/or wipeout...just go to YouTube and watch Oracle's first AC72 disintergrate after nosediving into SanFran Bay at 40knots. Early days yet, but getting a page up and running now. Don't need to vote striaght away - best wait till mid July/August.