America's Cup: Challenger of Record pulls pin in unprecedented move

As USA crosses the finish Line, GGYC accept the Club Nautico di Roma as challenger of Record , l. to r. : Melinda Erkelens (GGYC) - Norbert Barjurin (GGYC) - Marcus Young (GGYC) - Alessandra Pandarese (Club Nautico di Roma)- Vincenzo Onorato (Club Nautico di Roma)***14/02/2010 - Valencia (ESP) - 33rd America’s Cup - BMW ORACLE Racing - Race 2 - - As USA crosses the finish Line, GGYC accept the Club Nautico di Roma

The Challenger of Record for the 34th America's Cup, Mascalzone Latino has just announced that they will not compete in the 34th America's Cup.

No announcement has yet been made by the America's Cup organisers as to what will happen next, in this unprecedented move, which had been tipped for some time.

Roma, 06/05/10 34 America’s Cup Press Conference Russel Coutts BMW Oracle Racing, Vincenzo Onorato Mascalzone Latino
The team headed by Italian shipping magnate Vincenzo Onorato cites an inability to raise sufficient sponsorship as the reason behind the withdrawal.

The team was also one of those believed to have missed the posting of the first performance bond on 30 April 2011.

There was some surprise in Cup circles, when Mascalzone Latino did not take up on of the first AC45's instead it was claimed they had 'chartered' that boat to Oracle Racing, who sailed two boats.

In the end Onorato remained true to his word, when a few weeks ago he commented 'If in a few months I don't find the economic support to be competitive, the I'll quit'.

Clearly he had reached, or passed, the point of no return.

Curiously at the time of the venue from the 34th Defence of the America's Cup being subject to an intense bidding war, the Italian club of Mascalzone Latino was widely reported as being the European venue for the event, and had offered a massive venue fee for the hosting the event.

The announcement drops the clubs entered in the 34th America's Cup down to 13 teams, including the defender Oracle Racing.

The move by Mascalzone Latino will create some uncertainty in Cup circles. It is certainly unprecedented in America's Cup history. While some may expect the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, as a Cup Trustee to step into the breach, the role is regarded as a poison chalice by many in New Zealand, as no Challenger of Record has ever gone on to win the most prestigious trophy in sailing.

While some would point to three years (1970, 1992 and 1995) when there was no challenger of record, in 1970 the New York Yacht Club asked the Australian challenger to run a selection series with the winner being confirmed by the International Sailing Federation. In 1992, the initial Challenger was Yacht club de Sete (FRA) who dropped out early in the piece, and the Challengers' affairs were run a by a Challenger of Record Committee headed by West Australian, Ernie Tyalor. The same arrangement continued in 1995.

The reason for needing a Challenger of Record is to negotiate the terms of the Protocol for the Match and events leading to it. Protocols, as a means of controlling the conditions under which an America's Cup was run, first came into existence in the 1992 America's Cup.

Under the current Protocol the only advantage of being a Challenger of Record, is that the club as the right of veto over some conditions sought be to imposed by the Defender.

The most likely replacement, if a club is to be accepted is the first time Swedish challenger, Artemis Racing. Sail-World understands that the Swedish team were also the second Challenger. Under the 19th century Deed of Gift, they have the right to Challenge before others can be engaged, and that club would need to accept the terms of the Challenge made by Club Nautico di Roma.

Another option is to run the event under a Challenger of Record Committee as was done in 1992 and 1995.

The statement from the team boss, Vincenzo Onorato reads:

With deep sorrow I have to announce my decision to withdraw my team from the 34th America’s Cup.

Since the very beginning of our role as Challenger of Record, I have been working on this project focused to bring the Cup in our Country.

Larry deeply loves Italy and he was excited about this idea. The Cup in Italy would have been the greatest worldwide promotion for our beautiful coasts. There have been some very high level and important meetings that made us believing in this dream, but the things went in a different way.

Mascalzone Latino sailing in the Louis Vuitton Cup
Event Media

As Challenger of Record, we have worked with humility next to Oracle and I am satisfied of the result we have reached: a new Cup, spectacular, with new boats, the catamarans, that will launch on the international scene a new generation of sailors.

With Russell we have discussed for long time on the most difficult challenge that the next Cup must face: an international situation with big economic crisis and therefore huge difficulties to find sponsor. This is the only, true, real enemy of the next Cup. We have then thought of the idea to create the class AC45, a concrete way to make lot of teams get involved in the event reducing costs, at least in the delicate period of the start-up.

On our side, I must thank the two Italian sponsors that believed and confirmed us their trust. We are not able, however, to reach a budget that allows us to be a competitive team.

In our sport, men in blazer have overcome by now those in oilskins, I'm a man in oilskin and when I go in the sea, I want to win. I’m not interested in a hopeless challenge, I would lie to the sponsors, to our fans and last but not least also to myself.

I would like to thank our friends from Club Nautico di Roma. I am sure that we will have new exciting adventures together.

The sailing adventure of Mascalzone Latino doesn’t end anyway with the Cup, but it continues with the sailing school in Naples, free of charge, for those children coming from the most difficult areas of this town. A daily challenge, and, who knows, maybe someday we will see a new America’s Cup champion coming out from one of them.

Fair wind to all of you.

Roma, 06/05/10 34 America’s Cup Press Conference Vincenzo Onorato Mascalzone Latino