Thursday, May 28, 2009

Report: Desafío to quit the America's Cup, move to the Volvo Ocean Race

As it has been widely reported in the Spanish press, Iberdrola, the Spanish utilities group, bought out the shares of Desafío held by Real Federación Española de Vela (13%), Caja Madrid (8%), Pedro Campos (6%) and Josep Cusí (6%) and is now in total control of the former America's Cup Spanish team.

According to Spain's most influential sailing journalist, Jaume Soler, a meeting will take place in the team base in Valencia, where Agustín Zulueta will explain the new owner's decisions and the future plans in store.

Although it is not yet official, Desafío sold its TP52 yacht to John Cook's Cristabella. Still, the most important aspect of Iberdrola's plans is to quit the America's Cup and, reportedly, focus on the Volvo Ocean Race.

In fact, the current base in Valencia will be transformed and according to an internal Iberdrola document we have, "the base will accommodate a wide range of activities, going from nautical events to outreach programs in the world of sailing as well as the management of different national and international sailing projects."

As Soler reports the green team will most probably set a new base in Alicante in order to enter the Volvo Ocean Race. As per the recent agreement signed between the Regional Government of Valencia and the round-the-world race organizers, the next three editions (2011, 2014 and 2017) will depart from Alicante. In addition, the Valencian government has to guarantee the presence of at least two Spanish teams, independent from each other.

Since Telefonica has expressed its will to continue in the race, Soler writes that Iberdrola will most probably be that second team. That is also the reason Pedro Campos sold his stake in the green team, being the owner of the Telefonica VOR team. It seems that the sports activity will be in Alicante and Valencia will become, in a way, the headquarters of the group's sailing activities.

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