Until the Protocol is issued, no one else can officially challenge. But we know who is likely to be racing:
Oracle Team USA (Defender)
Russell Coutts stays on as CEO, with Grant Simmer as General Manager. OTUSA has re-signed helmsman Jimmy Spithill, strategist Tom Slingsby and grinder Rome Kirby. They have recruited American olympic Laser sailor Andrew Campbell. In addition they have named the core of their design team, stressing that 11 of the 18 designers are American. Some of the sailing team began training in the AC45 with Team Australia in Sydney. They plan to stay until June and have more training “camps” scheduled in 2014. Apparently they have no plans to race in the Extreme Sailing Series. (Image: OTUSA Video)
Team Australia (Challenger of Record)
Australian wine tycoons and owners of the Hamilton Island Yacht Club resort, Bob Oatley and his son Sandy initiated the challenge and are underwriting part of the funding. CEO Iain Murray has sailed for years on the Oatley’s fast racing yachts named “Wild Oats.” Murray named Mat Belcher skipper. Mat was the London gold medalist in the 470. Team Australia will race on the Extreme Sailing Series circuit as “GAC Pindar” with 18-Foot Skiff world champion Seve Jarvin as skipper of their X-40. (Photo: Andrea Francolini)
Emirates Team New Zealand
The New Zealand government committed US $4 million to fund the team through May 2014, enabling them to fend off other syndicates trying to poach their talent. Team boss Grant Dalton has been working to line up sponsors. Emirates Airline is still the title sponsor for the team on the Extreme Sailing Series circuit. The ETNZ’s youth team won the Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in 2013. Youth helmsman Peter Burling and trimmer Blair Tuke have joined ETNZ. The pair took the silver medal in the 49er at the 2012 London Olympics. (Photo: Chris Cameron. L to R: Peter Burling, Blair Tuke, Grant Dalton.)
Iain Percy, Team Manager (he did not want the title “CEO”) of Artemis Racing, has publicly stated on multiple occasions that the goal of Artemis Racing is “to dominate” the America’s Cup. Artemis has re-signed helmsman Nathan Outteridge and wing trimmer Iain “Goobs” Jensen. The Artemis team had learned to foil gybe their AC72 in time for their first race of the Louis Vuitton Cup semi-finals, their ninth day of sailing (compared to Luna Rossa’s 75 days of sailing their AC72). Artemis has also re-signed Loïck Peyron as coach, backup helmsman and design team member. They have poached designers from ETNZ and from OTUSA. They will be a force to contend with in the 35th America’s Cup. (Photo: Carlo Borlenghi)
Team owner Patrizio Bertelli has won the Louis Vuitton Cup (2000) and been inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame. His team has set up camp in Sardinia to prepare for his fifth America’s Cup challenge. Luna Rossa bought their AC72 design from ETNZ for the 2013 America’s Cup, so they will need to build up their design team. Like OTUSA, Luna Rossa has shown no plans for racing in the Extreme Sailing Series. Francesco Bruni holds a “tour card” on the World Match Racing Tour and recently defeated Ben Ainslie in the Bermuda Gold Cup, so it appears they will train in 2014 by combining monohull racing on the World Match Race Tour with training in their AC45’s in Sardinia. Luna Rossa recently hired Adam Minoprio, the young Kiwi helmsman who was the 2009 World Match Racing champion. (Photo: Carlo Borlenghi)
Ben Ainslie Racing
J.P. Morgan sponsors Ainslie’s team on the Extreme Sailing Series. Sir Keith Mills and Charles Dunstone have indicated that they are ready to support Ainslie’s America’s Cup campaign. Reuters reported this week that Ainslie is making good progress towards raising £100 million ($130 million) with about $45 million coming from private investors led by Mills and Dunstone. BAR is racing in the Extreme Sailing Series, finishing seventh at the Singapore regatta in February.
Frank Cammas has won the last Volvo Ocean Race, the “Little America’s Cup” in C-Class catamarans and the Route du Rhum. He set the record for a circumnavigation in 2010, holding the record for two years before Loïck Peyron broke it in 2012. He has won the Bol d’Or in a D35 catamaran on Lake Geneva. He is preparing for the mixed multihull event at the 2016 Rio Olympics with teammate Sophie de Turckheim. French insurance company Groupama has funded his projects including his current Extreme Sailing Series team. They will not fund the Team France America’s Cup challenge, so Cammas will need to find other sponsors.
Gazprom Team Russia
With strong backing from Gazprom, the 21st largest company in the world, this Russian team would have the means to mount a campaign for the 35th America’s Cup. They have recruited Paul Campbell-James as helmsman. Paul won the Extreme Sailing Series in 2010 at the helm of The Wave, Muscat and in 2011 as helmsman for Luna Rossa. Team Russia also has the 2009 winner on board, Pete Cumming, who helmed Oman Sail Masirah. The team represents the Saint Petersburg Yacht Club, whose Commodore Vladimir Liubomirov has declared his desire to challenge for the 35th America’s Cup. A decision may depend on how they perform at the Saint Petersburg Extreme regatta in June. (Image: Lloyd Images)