America's Cup: Interview with Kevin Reed, head of Canada's AC drive

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The last time Canada was present in the America's Cup was in Fremantle in 1987 when a combined project from Secret Cove Yacht Club and Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron challenged the Defender from the Royal Perth Yacht Club and got eliminated in the Louis Vuitton Cup round robin.

Fast forward nearly a quarter of a century and it now seems possible that the world's second largest country by area could be once again represented in the competition for the world's oldest sports trophy. Red Maple Racing, led by Toronto financier Kevin Reed, is the project that embodies Canada's drive in the America's Cup. Valencia Sailing talked to Reed about the background, current sate and future of the project.

Valencia Sailing: Let's start with a brief background on the project. What made you try to form an America's Cup challenge?

Kevin Reed: I've certainly been a fan of the America's Cup for perhaps three decades and it's something Canada hasn't had an entry in since 1987. In the last 5-6 years I have been speaking with Paul Henderson, a former ISAF President, about an entry for Canada. All these years, both personally and through the companies I own, I have sponsored many Canadian Olympic athletes, including Canadian Olympic sailors. With the new format America's Cup Race Management and America's Cup Event Authority have prepared it has certainly become very attractive now for Canada to take a look at this. The economics of the old model or at least the last 10-15 years was restrictive but now, Russell Coutts and his team have done a tremendous job transforming it into a business like Formula 1 or other professional sports.

Valencia Sailing: From what I understand, you claim the changes brought by Russell Coutts made the cup interesting for you. Does that mean that the 32nd America's Cup in Valencia or the ones before in Auckland were not interesting from a Canadian perspective?

Kevin Reed: Although very exciting as a fan, it was very prohibitive on the financial side, from a Canadian perspective. I was at the 2007 Cup in Valencia and it was very exciting, a great event and certainly of interest but the new format has allowed us to set up a committee to examine this. We hope to take a decision in the next 45 days if we are going ahead with the challenge but right now with the new format we are very optimistic we should be able to do something for Canada.

Valencia Sailing: At what stage of preparation is the project right now? Will you personally fund it or will you have other backers as well, whether private individuals or companies?

Kevin Reed: In the next 45 days we'll be looking at a few things. One of them is the financing mechanisms. Can we put them in place so that the project is financed not only by me but also Canadian companies that want to sponsor us? In the next area, we believe there is enough Canadian talent to put together an all-Canadian sailing team. Another area we are looking into is the design and build team and again we believe the talent is here. So, we have three things Paul Henderson, myself and the rest of the team are looking at: The financing mechanisms, the sailing and the design and build teams and we are trying to be all-Canadian in all three areas, as much as we can.

Valencia Sailing: Do you believe you can be competitive with a solely Canadian team?

Kevin Reed: We certainly believe we have the talent pool to do that. There is a number of Canadians that have been involved in previous America's Cups as well as other major sailing events and we are convinced this talent pool is right here in Canada.

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