Louis Vuitton Trophy Series to End in 2010

The January 2011 Hong Kong stop is cancelled. Will a November event in Dubai be the swan song for the World Sailing Teams Association? For Louis Vuitton as an America's Cup sponsor?

Have we seen the end of the Louis Vuitton Trophy Series? Of the World Sailing Teams Association? Today's press release from the WSTA (in full, below) announces that preparations for a January 2011 LVT stop in Hong Kong have ceased. The Dubai event, slated for November, is still on, but is ominously called the "last regatta."

Buried in the release is the mention of "multiple America's Cup Championship regattas." which will lead up to the 34th America's Cup. These ACC events (now that's not too confusing, the soon-to-be-replaced America's Cup Class and the soon-to-be-announced America's Cup Championship regatta series sharing the same acronym) appear to be the updated version of the ACTS that preceded the 32nd America's Cup in Valencia (you know, the one with multiple challengers).

What is conspicously absent from the release is any mention of the role Louis Vuitton and the WSTA will play in the ACC regattas or the America's Cup in general. Also missing is any timing on the start of these ACC regattas. The LVT series was supposed to act as a bridge to the next America's Cup, giving teams the opportunity to try out sailors and provide a little return for their sponsors. It was also doing a good job of bringing America's Cup style sailing to places that hadn't seen it before. If the ACC series will have to wait until teams have new boats to sail, it could be well in 2011 before it gets started, a long dry spell for teams and professional sailors.

There was talk that the relationship between Louis Vuitton and BMW Oracle Racing wasn't as cozy of late. A month ago, Paul Cayard told us that the LVT tour would be hitting California for two stops in 2011. Now those appear to be up in the air. We've got a call into BMW Oracle Racing to try to sort some of this out. More when we know it.

UPDATE: Just got off the phone with BMW Oracle Racing. From their perspective this is a fairly straightforward baton pass from the WSTA to BMW Oracle Racing. The organization served its purpose and now the defender is going to take over responsibilities for all America's Cup-related racing. Whether this is a bully move (it's our sand box and we're going to control it) or simply the most efficient way to transition into the 34th America's Cup is anyone's guess. This probably means the end of the WSTA, it's hard to think what purpose it would serve without this series. But we've been surprised before. As for Louis Vuitton's relationship with BMW Oracle Racing, that is still strong and the two are actively talking about LV's roll in the lead up to the 34th America's Cup and the match itself. There will be America's Cup Championship racing in 2011, where is yet to be determined. The Version 5 boats will be used for these regattas with the new design phasing into the competition in the winter of 2011-'12.

Press release from the WSTA:

_Preparations for Louis Vuitton Trophy Hong Kong regatta to stop

The World Sailing Teams Association, together with Louis Vuitton and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, will not develop the proposed Louis Vuitton Trophy Hong Kong any further.

The proposed world class sailing event, featuring some of the top racing teams in the world competing in Version 5 America’s Cup class boats, would have been scheduled for Victoria Harbour in January 2011. It has become clear however, that many of the teams involved are focusing their resources on their preparations for the 34th America’s Cup.

The Louis Vuitton Trophy regattas have provided sailing teams and their partners with high level racing whilst the 33rd America’s Cup held in Febuary 2010 was limited to one defender and one challenging team.

Now, the America’s Cup is back on track as a multi-team event with fair rules managed by a neutral authority and multiple America’s Cup Championship regattas culminating in the next Match. The new holder of the America’s Cup, San Francisco’s Golden Gate Yacht Club, will confirm the venue of the 34th America’s Cup, and timing (2014 or 2013) later this year.

A South East Asia venue is under consideration for one of these ACC regattas.

WSTA and the Louis Vuitton Trophy would like to thank both the Hong Kong government and the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club for the efforts they have made to date and the commitment they have shown in the preliminary planning stages for the event.

Building on the success of the Louis Vuitton Pacific Series held in February 2009, the World Sailing Teams Association, in conjunction with Louis Vuitton, has already held three Louis Vuitton Trophy events in Nice, France, in Auckland, New Zealand and in La Maddalena, Italy.

The last regatta will be held in the United Arab Emirates in Dubai._