A second America’s Cup challenger from the United States is gathering pace, hoping to confirm their intentions by the end of June.
And they might not be alone with speculation of three other challenges emerging as the hunt for money intensifies and deadlines loom. So far there are four confirmed syndicates for Auckland 2021.
Team USA21, built around Taylor Canfield’s successful match-racing outfit, want to have their entry in by June 31 to avoid a US$1m late entry penalty.
Whispers of the challenge emerged in the wake of Canfield’s recent Congressional Cup win where he beat Dean Barker’s American Magic from the New York Yacht Club in the final.
Canfield just won the prestigious Gold Cup in Bermuda to confirm his stature as the hottest skipper on the match-racing circuit right now.
His team mate Mike Buckley has become the unofficial spokesman for the unofficial Cup tilt and says they have been working on the project for more than a year, an assignment that was reliant on Oracle Team USA losing the Auld Mug in Bermuda last year.
When the Americans were beaten by Emirates Team New Zealand, their ambitious plans swung into motion.
“We’ve had feelers out for eight months for funding partners and to be able to put the right people together for the design team. We also need to find the right yacht club and the right location,” Buckley told Sail-World.com.
“We need one or two more partners. We believe we have enough backing to get started, but we don’t have all we need. But certainly we do have eight figures committed privately to our group right now.
“We do have some very committed investors who have given us the green light to buy a simulator and start employing designers – and have people working on this project full time – which is what a group of us are doing.”
Interestingly, Buckley said as they scoured the market they had come across several unannounced teams that were also looking at Auckland 2021 – from northern Europe, China and a second Italian syndicate.
Team New Zealand are holding off confirming all entries until the deadline passes, wanting to respect the privacy of individual teams this early in the Cup cycle.
Cup holders New Zealand, Britain’s Ben Ainslie Racing, Italy’s challenger of record Luna Rossa and the New York Yacht Club will contest Auckland 2021, but there is a need for deeper competition.
Team USA21 like the nationalistic feel returning to the America’s Cup scene and hope to emulate Team New Zealand, the Brits and Italy in joining that theme. They believe they can operate a “100 per cent” American challenge
“New Zealand is a fraction of the size and with a fraction of the resources of the USA and they get all New Zealand behind them,” Buckley said.
“It’s fantastic what Grant Dalton and those before him have done there, and that’s what we are after. It’s definitely feasible to do the same with Team USA.”
He said they had to be realistic as they narrowed their focus and they had to be sure they could be competitive.
“We certainly don’t want to over-promise and under-perform,” Buckley said.
“We will not challenge if we do not believe with 100% certainty that we can make it to the finish line in a very respectable manner. In our mind, we have to be in genuine contention to win the America’s Cup. We know that is a high bar.
“Everyone involved in our campaign are incredibly competitive people, and if we didn’t believe we could mount a strong challenge, we wouldn’t be doing it. But we will be fundraising to the end of the Cup – that is the nature of the beast – as we assume Team NZ does.
“It’s not realistic for us to expect a company or individual to come along and write you a cheque to cover the whole budget – it’s just too much money. We have a figure in mind to be sustainable, and we are not too far off that right now.”
Meanwhile, Challenger of Record Luna Rossa from Italy have just launched their TP52 for the looming Super Series on the Mediterranean which they will use to hone their crew work as the America’s Cup returns to monohulls in 2021.
“We’re here to win the America’s Cup. I dream of winning it with Luna Rossa and for Italy. That’s why I started in 1997. [Team backer] Patrizio Bertelli does not do anything just to participate,” Luna Rossa team director and skipper Max Sirena said.