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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 October, 2004, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Optimism for GB Cup bid
GBR Challenge
GBR Challenge faces a race against time to find a sponsor
Britain's ailing America's Cup bid for 2007 may be set to receive fresh impetus from sailing-mad tycoon Charles Dunstone, boss of Carphone Warehouse.

The withdrawal of the HSBC bank as a potential title sponsor has left GBR Challenge in a race against time to raise funds for a new campaign.

But Dunstone is working on an idea to use GBR Challenge as a vehicle for a leading humanitarian charity.

"It has been well received and has changed people's thinking," he said.

The plan is to offer naming rights to the charity and then to offer other sponsorship opportunities to commercial companies.

I'm convinced the America's Cup is going to be the hottest property in Europe
Charles Dunstone

Dunstone told The Sunday Times: "The idea we are trying to get across is to use the team and the America's Cup to do something positive.

"From a company's point of view it ticks a lot of their boxes - corporate social responsibility, humanitarian work and brand awareness in one package."

GBR Challenge was bankrolled by multi-millionaire Peter Harrison for the last America's Cup in 2002 to the tune of 25m.

The team finished seventh out of nine but Harrison was keen to preserve the legacy he had created and pledged to donate 50% of the projected 40m projected funds needed for Valencia in 2007.

Harrison spent 18 months trying to woo backers and HSBC seemed set to provide substantial funds before pulling out 10 days ago, prompting Dunstone to act.

"I've always said I would never be the guy to just write a cheque for an America's Cup because it's incredibly expensive," he told the paper.

"But Peter has created an amazing legacy and it would be a tragedy if it was to just disappear.

"I'm convinced the America's Cup is going to be the hottest property in Europe, even by 2006."

But GBR Challenge are aware time is running out - the later a team leaves it, the later they are able to look at signing top crews and develop their boats, sails and equipment.

Six syndicates have so far confirmed their participation in Valencia, with a handful of others expected to sign up before the April 2005 deadline.

"If we don't do this now, we will never have a chance to be a top team," said Leslie Ryan, the team's marketing boss

"We need to have the boats ready to race by March."




SEE ALSO
GBR downplay Ainslie move
19 Jun 04  |  Other Sport
Ainslie opts for NZ boat
15 Jun 04  |  Other Sport
Harrison faces crucial year
06 Jan 03  |  Sailing
British bid still afloat
25 Nov 02  |  Sailing
GBR Challenge exit
18 Nov 02  |  Sailing


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