Another payment deadline in the road to the Cup has seen some pruning in the potential fleet of AC45s

Last Friday saw the deadline for another key payment required to continue on the road to the America’s Cup World Series and ultimately the AC itself.

As the extended deadline for entries closed, the organisers announced that 14 challengers (plus of course the defender GGYC) had signed up for the AC World Series. While not saying so publicly, many within the organisation readily accepted that it was unlikely that all 14 challengers would make it through to the events themselves.

So now the current round of pruning has taken place, who’s left in the frame? The official list is as follows.

China – China Team, Mei Fan Yacht Club
France – Aleph – Équipe De France, Aleph Yacht Club
France – Energy Team, Yacht Club de France
Italy – Venezia Challenge, Club Canottieri Roggero di Lauria
New Zealand – Emirates Team New Zealand, Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron
Republic of Korea – Team Korea, Sail Korea Yacht Club
Sweden – Artemis Racing, Kungliga Svenska Segel Sallskapet
United States – ORACLE Racing, Golden Gate Yacht Club, (Defender)

* The Ninth confirmed Team will be announced at a press conference June 23 in Europe

The scaling down will be seen as some as a problem for the Cup organisers as AC Race Management (ACRM) fights to keep competitors on board while AC Event Management continues its search for sponsors of the event itself.

Those with a more optimistic view will see the current situation as inevitable. The most recent multi-challenger events have also seen fewer competitors than the number of those who put their hands up when the events were first announced – that’s life.

But having witnessed the new style of racing with just five boats down in Auckland at the recent racing and TV trials, this event will not need big fleets to boost its ratings. So long as there’s wind to race, and they don’t need much, there will be action on the race course.

And for those who still doubt whether the Cup in multihulls can attract the media, take a look at just how far and wide Coutt’s recent capsize spread. While I can’t speak for the Continent, here in the UK the capsize, which was not even part of any serious event, found it’s way into the opening pages of broadsheet newspapers as well as onto the BBC News both online and on TV. Even the BBC Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman ended the show with video of the now famous capsize, as if everyone knew who Russell Coutts was.

The Cup has clearly changed racing hasn’t even started.