Sailing legends Russell Coutts and Paul Cayard have teamed up with internationally renowned Portuguese sports promoter, Joao Lagos, to create a new annual global sports series. The World Sailing League (WSL) will be held at premier sailing locations around the world with the series winner receiving a check for $2 million. Twelve teams, representing nations, will compete in identical, state-of-the-art 70-foot catamarans. It is anticipated that there will be venues in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North America and South America. Cayard and Coutts are both committed to skipper teams in the league.Joao Lagos, whose company, Lagos Sports, runs prestigious international golf, cycling, tennis and motor racing events, commented: “I immediately recognised the potential of the World Sailing League and am excited about the opportunity to raise the profile of sailing here in Portugal through this international sporting event. There is also the possibility of a Portuguese venue and team, but this is yet to be confirmed.”From the results of our detailed due diligence and conversations with potential venues, skippers and sponsors, I can confirm that the level of support for this new and innovative concept has been remarkable and we are delighted to be involved.”Russell Coutts outlined why Joao Lagos is the ideal partner for WSL: “We have been planning this for a long time and were looking for an organisation that would share our vision for the World Sailing League. In Joao Lagos we have an entrepreneurial figure with the foresight to see the potential of these events, coupled the expertise and credibility to bring the concept to life. Our partnership with Lagos Sports, a leading event promoter allows us to make this announcement today.”Cayard added, “Russell, Joao Lagos and I are pooling our experiences from the America’s Cup, the Olympic Games and a multitude of other sporting competitions. We have taken the best ideas from sports events all over the world – and added innovative concepts – to generate an exciting new series that will maximise the appeal to sailors, sponsors and spectators. For a venture like this, it was also important that ISAF support the concept and they have confirmed they are fully behind us.”The World Sailing League will use a fleet racing format although a number of other innovative concepts such as time trials and slalom racing will be tested using the prototype yacht. It will also have a customised support ship to transport the boats and equipment to each venue. The ship will be akin to a transportable pit lane, with all the technology required to maintain the 70-foot catamarans. The design of the boats will be finalised by early summer of this year with the first prototype being launched in the latter half of 2007 to allow sufficient testing and refinement. The 14 one-design yachts will start being built in 2008, ready for the launch of the series during 2009. The new boats have been designed by a team including Marc Van Peteghem and Lauriot Prevost and are at the forefront of technology. The 70-foot catamarans will combine speed, maneuverability and the ability to sail close to shore for optimum spectator viewing. There will be a further media announcement towards the end of this year at which further information and details of venues, teams, sponsors and the boats will be revealed. Joao Lagos, a Portuguese former Davis Cup player and captain, who was awarded the Order of Merit in Portugal, founded Lagos Sports (LS) in 1977. Since then, the internationally renowned sports promoter has been associated with premier sports events, especially in tennis, and has built up an impressive portfolio. Since 1990, LS has organised and promoted an ATP Tour, International Series tennis event “Estoril Open” and the Lisbon Tennis Masters Cup in 2000. LS is also prominent in the world of golf, counting the PGA’s European Tour Portugal Open, Madeira Island Open, Brazil’s Rio & S. Paulo Opens amongst its portfolio. The company has worked in many other fields including Beach Volleyball World Cup events, WCT Surfing Events and Equestrian CSIO Lisbon and “Haute École” events as well as the Cycling Tour of Portugal. In 2007, LS will be promoting two new sailing events: the Portuguese leg of the Medcup TP 52, as well as the new RC 44 Class with an exciting event in Portugal.Paul Cayard (47) is an American yachtsman who has led teams in a broad range of world championship level sailing events including the America’s Cup, the Volvo Ocean Race and the Olympic Games. In 1998, he became the first American skipper to win the Whitbread Round the World Race on EF Language and in 2005-06, skippered the Disney entry, Pirates of the Caribbean, in the VOR winning the final leg into Gothenburg. Paul has twice participated in the Olympic Games and five times in the America’s Cup, in addition to winning seven world championships. In 1998 he was selected as the Rolex Yachtsmen of the Year and elected into the Sailing World Hall of Fame in 2002.Russell Coutts (44) from New Zealand has a unique CV, listing an Olympic gold medal and three America’s Cup victories as skipper amongst his achievements. His sailing record also includes winning the ISAF World Youth championships, three World Match Racing Championships, numerous international match race wins and IOR, IMS and One Design World Championship victories. Since the 1984 Olympics he has established an outstanding reputation as a leader and is generally recognised as the best match racer in the world. Russell is also a qualified engineer. He has always been involved in the design & technological aspects of many of the projects he has worked with, and has recently co-designed a 44 ft one design monohull called the RC 44.