AC50s to be reborn in new grand-prix series
An international grand-prix series showcasing the foiling catamarans used in the 35th America's Cup will be formally announced next month, according to a published report on the Scuttlebutt Sailing News website.
In the report, it has been suggested that the official announcement of the global series will be made in London on October 3.
It also suggests that the AC50, the smallest class raced in the America's Cup, is to be outfitted with identical foils, rudders and control systems to further level the playing field as its hulls which were originally built to strict one design measurements.
Teams from the United States, Sweden, Japan and France are said to be committed to the event and others are expected to follow, including one possibly headed by two-times Cup winner Ernesto Bertarelli.
Of the six AC50s that were built for the previous America's Cup, which Bermuda successfully hosted, it is believed that five are being converted to meet the new class specifications.
The Royal Gazette revealed last October that plans were in the works for the launch of the new international grand-prix series with Bermuda among the potential host venues.
Local authorities have yet to comment on the matter. However, Pat Phillip-Fairn, the Bermuda Tourism Authority chief product and experiences development officer, stated in a press release announcing this year's BTA Bermuda sailing calendar that “ongoing talks continue, potentially adding more events for 2018 and 2019”.
The new international grand-prix series is believed to be the brainchild of software billionaire Larry Ellison, whose syndicate Oracle Team USA lost the Auld Mug to challenger Emirates Team New Zealand during last year's America's Cup.
It is understood that the aim of the series is to create a compelling and structured sporting contest that appeals to international television audiences.
Ellison took TV coverage of yacht racing to a new dimension after he had legendary American ocean racing navigator Stan Honey create a special graphics package for the 2013 and 2017 America's Cup events in San Francisco and Bermuda.
It is expected that the same concept will be used for the new international grand-prix series.
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