Saturday, August 8, 2009

Louis Vuitton world yachting series gathers pace...

Article by - Paul Lewis
As the America's Cup descends slowly into yet more court action, so the prospect of a Louis Vuitton world yachting series gathers pace - and there could yet be a regatta in Europe later this year, followed by several more in 2010, including one in Auckland.

The latest whirl of action surrounding the Cup (and the likelihood of further legal manoeuvres) brings the possibility of a world series - similar to the inaugural regatta in Auckland early this year - closer.

The absence of a conventional Cup regatta and a defender able to accommodate the needs of America's Cup teams means the Louis Vuitton series becomes more viable. Teams wanting not just to stay alive but also to be active on the water are keen for the kind of racing seen in the Hauraki Gulf when Team NZ won the inaugural trophy in February.

There is also a strong possibility the Louis Vuitton series could become both a stand-alone series and part of the build-up to the America's Cup, when it returns to a conventional regatta.

In latter times, America's Cup holders Alinghi instituted pre-Cup regattas called Acts, where teams scored points which counted towards the challenger series. In today's straitened economic circumstances, a ready-made series which could fulfil the function of the Acts yet relieve Alinghi of the responsibility of organising them, is attractive.

However, this is the America's Cup and politics, as ever, are foremost. While it is understood there is still a lot to do to make the series fly, several teams have expressed interest in the Louis Vuitton series as a kind of sandwich event between the Acts and world match racing series. This is especially attractive as Alinghi are caught up in their battle with BMW Oracle and may have little or no say in what other teams get up to in the meantime.

Plans to hold a Louis Vuitton regatta in Hong Kong this year have been shelved but there are still hopes for one in Europe. Next year, there are plans for 3-4 other Louis Vuitton regattas in Auckland, Europe and the US. Read more...