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The much anticipated sailing event created by Russell Coutts and Paul Cayard was revealed in Portugal overnight.

The pair have teamed up with Portuguese sports promoter Joao Lagos, a former Davis Cup tennis player and captain, to form a new annual global series.

The World Sailing League will be held at premier sailing locations around the world starting in 2009.

The series winners will receive a cheque for $2 million. Twelve teams will compete in identical 21m catamarans. It is anticipated that there will be venues in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, the Middle East, Asia, North America and South America.

Cayard (who is helping the Spanish team in this year's America's Cup) and Coutts are both committed to skipper teams in the league.

The two sailing greats have been working on the project for more than two years.

The event was at first touted as a possible rival to the America's Cup, which many believe needs a revamp in terms of boats.

"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," said Coutts.

"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."

Cayard said they were pooling their 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," Cayard said.

"For a venture like this, it was also important that the International Sailing Federation supported the concept and they have confirmed they are fully behind us."

The league will use a fleet racing format although a number of concepts such as time trials and slalom racing will be tested using the prototype yacht.

A customised support ship will transport the boats and equipment to each venue. The ship will be similar to a transportable pit lane, with all the technology required to maintain the 70 catamarans.

The boats have been designed by a team including Marc Van Peteghem and Lauriot Prevost. The catamarans will combine speed, manoeuvrability and the ability to sail close to shore for optimum spectator viewing.