PARIS — A dozen teams are to compete in the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series, a yachting regatta to be held in Auckland, New Zealand, in February.
Those participating in the series, initiated after Vuitton withdrew its 25-year sponsorship from the qualifying series for the America’s Cup last year, include America’s BMW Oracle and Switzerland’s Alinghi, which remain embroiled in a legal fight over the America’s Cup. “Getting all the teams back on the water is a good thing,” said BMW Oracle’s Russell Coutts during a conference at New Zealand’s embassy here Thursday.
Initially planned for just six teams, the 12 were selected on a first-come, first-served basis and represent 10 countries, including Greece, China and South Africa, with two more teams on a waiting list. “It shows the passion for this event,” said Vuitton chairman and chief executive officer Yves Carcelle.
“There’s enormous interest in the world already,” added New Zealand’s French ambassador, Sarah Dennis. Unlike the America’s Cup, competitors will race on the same pairs of boats, equipped to be as technically identical as possible.
While Vuitton’s marketing and communications director, Pietro Beccari, said the house won’t embark on new sponsorship tie-ins next year, given the difficult economic period, the Pacific Series, expected to attract thousands of New Zealand’s sailing-enthusiastic public, is part of Vuitton’s “fewer but bigger” strategy.