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Four named to Cup Hall of Fame

Plus eBay Cup opportunities, a new Italian syndicate and the first South African campaign

Plus eBay Cup opportunities, a new Italian syndicate and the first South African campaign

American Tom Whidden and New Zealander Brad Butterworth will be inducted into the Rolex America’s Cup Hall of Fame in June. In addition, two posthumous awards will be bestowed to American afterguard Hank Haff and Scottish designer William Fife III.

Whidden, 56, was the most successful America’s Cup tactician of the 1980s, helping to win the trophy in 1980, ’87 and ’88. The Connecticut resident has been active in the Cup ever since and most recently was tactician for Dennis Conner’s Stars & Stripes campaign. Whidden, president of North Sails, says he dreamed of racing in the America’s Cup as a youth sailing on Long Island Sound.

Butterworth, 45, was tactician with three victorious Cup campaigns: Team New Zealand’s Black Magic in 1995 and 2000, and with Switzerland’s Alinghi syndicate in 2003.

Fife (1847 to 1944) designed two of Sir Thomas Lipton’s early Cup challengers, as well as hundreds of other yachts. Haff (1837 to 1906) sailed in the afterguard of many successful yachts, with four wins between 1881 and 1895.

In other Cup news

• Internet auction-goers had an opportunity to bid on a new California-based America’s Cup syndicate. The starting bid: $30 million.

The Sausalito Challenge, headed by former advertising executive Tina Kleinjan and former Oracle/BMW crewmember John Sweeney, put up for bid the exclusive sponsorship rights for the new San Francisco syndicate on eBay Motors, a specialty site on for buying and selling boats, cars and motorcycles. Sweeney says the syndicate’s Web site had nearly 200,000 hits within a few weeks, and more than 1,100 companies downloaded the auction package. But there wasn’t a single bid when the April 2 to 9 auction closed.

• South Africa will mount its first America’s Cup challenge, for the 32nd America’s Cup to be held in Valencia, Spain, in 2007. Captain Salvatore Sarno, chairman of Mediterranean Shipping Company South Africa and managing director of the South African America’s Cup Challenge, made the announcement in mid-March. Sarno says he hopes the entire nation will support the campaign. The syndicate will represent Cape Town’s Royal Cape Yacht Club.

• A new Italian syndicate has announced plans to challenge for the America’s Cup in Valencia. The Clan Des Team will represent the yacht club Circolo Vela Gargnano, one of Italy’s leading yacht clubs. Situated in the town of Gargnano on the western shore of Lake Garda, the club is known in sailing circles as the organizer of the Centomiglia Race, a marathon 100-miler up and down the lake each year in September.

The Centomiglia last year was won by Clan Des Team in the Libera Class, and it is this sailing team that has mounted the challenge. The syndicate, headed by yacht club president Lorenzo Rizzardi, didn’t reveal details of its campaign, such as potential skippers or yacht designers. The syndicate was planning a public launch in April in Milan, Italy.

• Michel Bonnefous, CEO of Cup organizer America’s Cup Management, announced the first series of regattas leading up to the 2007 Cup. The series kicks off Sept. 5 to 11 with Act 1, fleet and match racing in Marseille, France. Act 2 will feature match racing in Valencia Oct. 5 to 12, and Act 3 will comprise fleet racing in Valencia Oct. 14 to 17. n