America’s Cup International Regatta Confirmed

Fleet and Match Racing on Hauraki Gulf in February, 2002

Auckland, New ZealandAmerica’s Cup challengers from the United States, Great Britain and Scandinavia will compete with Team New Zealand in a week long International Regatta between February 11-17, 2002; exactly one year out from the start of the 31st America’s Cup Match.

The One World Challenge from Seattle, Britain’s GBR Challenge and the Victory Challenge from Sweden have all accepted invitations to race with Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup International Regatta.

The seven-day international format supercedes the previous Road to the Cup Regattas in which challenging syndicates were invited to match race in a pair of older Team New Zealand yachts – NZL10 and NZL12 from the 1992 San Diego campaign.

“The International Regatta format is entirely new and very different; with a fleet race qualifying series followed by a four-boat match race and a grand finale Auckland Harbour race,” said Team New Zealand Executive Director Tony Thomas.

“This will be a world-class event with the challengers competing in their own yachts and Team New Zealand racing NZL60, the winning yacht in 2000. Dean Barker and his crew will be out racing every day, unlike the previous Road to the Cup format which saw Team New Zealand only competing against the best challenger on the last day.”

“At the Jubilee Regatta in Cowes during August we raced against other America’s Cup Class yachts in a similar format, mixing fleet racing and match racing. New Zealanders will see a different style of racing and the final fleet race along the East Coast Bays of the North Shore will finish under the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

This Sunday race will combine the open waters of the Hauraki Gulf with the confines of the inner Waitemata Harbour with a spectacular final leg past downtown Auckland and a finish beneath the Harbour Bridge.

Mr Thomas said the programme for the America’s Cup International Regatta will begin on Monday, February 11th with two days of fleet racing on a shortened windward-leeward America’s Cup style course. Wednesday is scheduled as a lay day to be followed by three days of match racing.

“We invited all the teams currently based in Auckland to participate and we are delighted with the response. It is representative of the strong challenging line up for America’s Cup 2003 and they are enthusiastic about racing together,” said Mr Thomas.

Tourism New Zealand will be hosting up to 50 international journalists during the International Regatta and Louis Vuitton are expected to bring another large media group to Auckland – many of them from travel and lifestyle publications in Europe, North America, Asia and Australia. It is also planned to invite representatives of daily regional newspapers throughout New Zealand.

The 31st America’s Cup is scheduled to start in Auckland on February 15th, 2003