Formula 1 and the America's Cup

Formula 1 budgets are holding steady at the moment but the global sports sponsorship market is very busy at the moment, principally because preparations are now beginning for the next America's Cup sailing competition in 2007. A number of Formula 1 have already lost marketing staff to the sailing syndicates, all of which are looking for between $40-100m in sponsorship for their programmes. The impact of the America's Cup is more than in previous years because the Cup was won in 2003 by a Swiss boat. This meant that the Geneva Yacht Club won the right to choose the venue for the next America's Cup. Because Switzerland is landlocked country, the club picked the Spanish city of Valencia to be the first European venue for the America's Cup since 1851. The switch to Europe has put syndicates in direct competition with F1 teams for sponsorships.

There are around 15 declared challengers all looking for money to compete in the Louis Vuitton Cup, the challenger series that will precede the America's Cup races with the defender Alinghi. The challengers will include BMW Oracle, Team New Zealand (which has just landed a $35m from the Emirates airline), a team based around the 2003 Prada team, the GBR Challenge from Britain and a variety of new syndicates including an Italian venture called +39, a South African challenge from the Royal Cape Yacht Club, a French challenge from the Cercle de la Voile de Paris, an Australian syndicate called OzBoyz, and possible teams from Spain, Tuscany, the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron and the Sausalito Yacht Club in San Francisco. There has even been talk of a second British challenger involving the Royal Thames Yacht Club and property developer Peter de Savary, who has admitted to having had exploratory talks with a Formula 1 racing team (probably McLaren) about a technology deal.

The competition for money is intense, to such an extent that Loick Peyron has already halted his Team France project because he has not been able to raise the cash he needs.

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