Nearly 20 years after the Americas Cup races left Newport, R.I., for Fremantle, Australia, big-time match racing will return with an event akin to the U.S. Open golf tournament. Three amateurs who qualify through six regional events and a U.S. championship can then take a shot at beating pro skippers from the major Americas Cup teams. The regional events will take place over the next few months, from May through early July, and the main events will be held on July 27-28 and Aug. 1-4. The $100,000 UBS Challenge Finals will be part of the international professional series, the Swedish Match Tour.
Underwriting this major series is a sponsor familiar to the global sailing scene — UBS, which is one of the worlds largest financial players with a history of sponsorships in sailing including the Volvo Ocean Race and Russell Couttss Americas Cup campaign. US SAILING is sanctioning the events and utilizing its Prince of Wales Trophy qualifiers as the regional events this year.
Confirmed pro skippers for the event include Peter Gilmour & James Spithill (OneWorld Challenge), Gavin Brady (Prada), Dean Barker & Bertrand Pace (Team New Zealand).
This mornings press release follows:
NEW UBS CHALLENGE SAILING CHAMPIONSHIP MARKS HISTORIC RETURN TO NEWPORT FOR AMERICAS CUP CONTENDERS
Sailing Tournament Features One-of-a-Kind Amateur vs. Professional Competition
NEW YORK, April 2, 2002 — UBS announced today that it will sponsor the UBS Challenge, the first and only sailing championship to pit the United States best amateur sailors against Americas Cup teams.
Part of the prestigious Swedish Match Tour, the UBS Challenge begins May 4 with six regional qualifying races for amateur sailors and culminates in an early August pro/am race weekend in Newport, Rhode Island. The UBS Challenge Finals mark the first time Americas Cup contenders have competed in Newport since 1983 and is one of the last major opportunities these crews will have to race against each other before the 2003 Americas Cup trials. Currently, nine Americas Cup crews and two top-ranked professional sailors are confirmed to race for the $100,000 purse, one of the biggest in sailing.
The sport of sailing demands the perfect combination of leadership, teamwork, strategy and skill — key attributes of world class competitors and core values embodied by UBS, said Donna C. Peterman, managing director and head, Communications and Marketing, UBS Americas, Inc. The UBS Challenge extends the firms global sailing commitment to the U.S. with a one-of-a-kind sailing event for todays premier teams.
The UBS Challenge Finals, sailed in identical racing yachts supplied by UBS, follow a mini Americas Cup match race format along a short course near a shore-side spectator venue. The Finals are preceded by a series of Regional Qualifier events in six U.S. cities: Chicago (May 4-5), Detroit (May 18-19), Los Angeles (June 15-16), New York (June 21-22), Houston (June 29-30) and Boston (July 13-14).
The winner of each Regional Qualifier will compete at the UBS Challenge U.S. Championships against last years top three finishers from the U.S. Match Racing Championship, the top ranked U.S. Womens match racing team and the 2001-2002 College Sailor of the Year.
The top three finishers of the UBS Challenge U.S. Championships will advance to the UBS Challenge finals. All three events are match race formats sanctioned by U.S. SAILING, which is the national governing body for the sport of sailing in the United States, and will be judged by official umpires from the International Sailing Federation.
Through their sponsorship of the sport, UBS is helping to build enthusiasm and awareness for sailing in America, said David Rosekrans, president of U.S. SAILING. We are confident that the UBS Challenge will create great excitement throughout the sailing community, from the regional regattas this spring through the finals in Newport later this summer.
In addition to the UBS Challenge series, UBS is the main sponsor of the Alinghi, the Swiss challenger for the 2003 Americas Cup, as well as two boats in the Volvo Ocean Race. These high-profile sponsorships underscore the firms commitment to the sport on a global scale.
UBS AG is a leading global financial services firm with 71,000 employees worldwide, providing a wide range of services to a client base that includes affluent individuals, corporations, institutions and governments. Headquartered in Switzerland, the bank has significant operations in all of the worlds major financial centers and is comprised of four business groups; UBS Warburg, UBS PaineWebber, UBS Switzerland, and UBS Asset Management.
For more information regarding the UBS Challenge, please visit http://www.ubs.com/ubschallenge.