Only three teams have signed up for America's Cup

February 2, 2012 11:12:47 PM PST
Time is running short for sailing teams that plan to compete in next year's America's Cup. The regatta director stirred up the waters this past week, talking about what now looks like a very small field of competitors.

Economies in the U.S. and Europe are struggling; it's a difficult time to raise money. America's Cup organizers are seeing the impact.

A year ago when Larry Ellison brought the America's Cup to San Francisco City Hall he predicted as many as 17 teams. Twelve months later, only three teams have signed up.

Last week, regatta director Iain Murray told the New Zealand Herald he's hopeful of getting more teams, but "the reality is the runway is going to run out in the not too distant future," meaning teams won't have time to design and build and train

"I think the way to read it is, so far three challengers have paid their money to be challengers and I think there's a few more months to go and you'll see people in the race," Mark Buell said.

Buell is head of the America's Cup organizing committee heading up private fundraising for the event. He confident more teams are coming.

"I think the China team has been fully engaged and I see them making plans to relocate here and set up shop that's a pretty good indication," Buell said. "South Korea, I think, is in the same boat, if you'll pardon the pun."

Buell believes teams are just being smart about their money and not putting down the entry fee until they have to in June.

Thursday at City Hall, Mayor Ed Lee remains upbeat on projections the cup races will bring a billion dollar windfall.

"I'm confident that this will get done and I think I added value to it by being physically there when we started to knock down the Pier 27 building; knowing that this is really coming, that's the best evidence," Lee said.

As for the teams entering the competition, they need to be in production on their boats by June to have a shot a making the races next July.

Sources tell ABC7 many of the teams from the America's Cup World Series are struggling to find the tens of millions it'll take to compete in San Francisco.

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