The underwhelming number of entries for the 34th America's Cup has forced organisers to re-think the format of next year's regatta.
Just three challengers - Emirates Team New Zealand, Luna Rossa and Artemis - have paid the US$100,000 ($121,000) entry fee for the 2013 event. With those teams already well-advanced in the design and build process of their AC72s, America's Cup regatta director Iain Murray admits it is looking increasingly unlikely that another syndicate will enter at this late stage.
"We're hopeful of having more teams outside of the teams that are already building, but the reality is the runway is going to run out in the not too distant future as to when they can start building and get to the startline, so it is going to become clear pretty quickly as to who the Louis Vuitton Cup competitors are going to be," said Murray, who was in Auckland yesterday for a competitor's forum.
The number of entries are well down on what organisers had been predicting, with the proposed format of the Louis Vuitton challenger series allowing for eight challengers and scheduled to run for two months from July 4-September 1 next year.
But with only three competitors, the regatta is likely to be scaled back significantly.
"It's going to change what's on the table for sure," said Murray when asked if the length of the Louis Vuitton series will be reduced.
"In the next few weeks we'll start planning on a bunch of potential different formats as to what the Louis Vuitton Cup will look like. We'll have to look at the mixture of the type of racing we do and how many races we do on each day and the breaks that we give the teams."
Murray said he was aware of the importance of maintaining the history and heritage of the America's Cup.
One of the options discussed yesterday was making each of the matches a best-of-three series rather than just a one-off match race.
This format could also be introduced for the America's Cup World Series regattas this year.
But it is still not apparent how that would fit into an eight-week Louis Vuitton series, much to the frustration of the competing teams who are keen for clarity around this.
Murray said a number of different agendas were emerging in the competitors' group, with some focused on AC45 issues, with the other four teams more interested in the AC72s.
For the AC72 group their main concerns yesterday were getting the length of course sorted, the format of the racing and the way the racing would be scored.
"What we're seeing is a number of different agendas emerging and as we go forward we have a number of different subjects we need to deal with," said Murray.
"The teams that are well-organised and strong are digging deeper into the detail of what we're going to do."