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7 Apr, 2010 09:13

“Russian sailors ready for America’s Cup”

Yachting is not a sport Russia can boast a lot of success in. Russian sailors have sometimes done well at World Championships, but when it comes to the Olympics and America’s Cup they have hardly made a ripple.

In fact, the last Olympic medal they won was silver, back in 1996 in Atlanta. Fortunately, interest in what is generally still considered a costly sport has been increasing in Russia.

”We have all the necessary ingredients in place, like the budgets, the sponsors, the big companies who are interested in global media coverage, and talented sailors. We have technology, including aerospace technology, which can be used for the America’s Cup. So we are definitely ready for this event now,” Oscar Konyukhov, executive director of a yachting agency, said.

The America's Cup is a two-boat race, held every three years, and is the most famous and prestigious competition for construction class boats, where each vessel is uniquely built for the event.

The last race, held in Valencia, Spain in February this year, was won by the American team, BMW Oracle Racing, who returned the Cup to its long-time home country for the first time in 15 years.

According to the rules, America will choose the venue for the next race. Their skipper, James Spithill, hopes the event will see people from as many countries as possible vying for the trophy.

“That’s something we’ve got to discuss now with the other teams. What we’d like to have is a big multinational event. We’d love to see all the countries represented, especially Russia,” he said.

The America's Cup pits together the defending champion – "the defender" – and a challenger.

The latter is usually decided in a selection series, which wasn't the case on this occasion. But the process is expected to return to normal next time.

A Russian team – Team Synergy – stands a good chance in the next preliminary round after a good performance in last year's Louis Vuitton Trophy.

They found an admirer in Olympic champion and BMW Oracle CEO, Sir Russell Coutts.

“The thing that’s been missing is the teams in big boats sailing. And now some of the Russian sailors are starting to come and race in these bigger boats, and starting to feel very good. I mean Synergy did very well in the Louis Vuitton regatta in Nice. They finished third and that was a fantastic performance,” Sir Russell Coutts said.

The road to the America's Cup is long, but the sky's the limit for those who dare.