A reputable French sailing magazine has reported ' />
The first positive signs are emerging that New Zealand's America's Cup challenge will go ahead.
A reputable French sailing magazine has reported that Team New Zealand have signed a group of top multihull designers.
At the time of BMW Oracle's announcement last month laying out their plans for the 34th America's Cup in 2013, Emirates Team New Zealand set a deadline of two weeks to confirm their participation. But Grant Dalton's camp have been curiously quiet since, leading to some speculation the Kiwi syndicate were getting cold feet.
Adding to concerns were the developments over the past week with Team Origin and Team Germany announcing they will not challenge in 2013, and Italian team Azzurra indicating they probably won't either.
Team Origin principal Sir Keith Mills said after going through the protocol for the next event, he believes BMW Oracle have an unrealistic vision and in the timeframe given it is not possible to mount a successful challenge.
"If [other challengers] have done their analysis as thoroughly as we have, I'd be surprised if they come to any different conclusions, but of course that's for them to decide," he said.
The official line from Team New Zealand is they are still looking at it from every angle before confirming their entry, but it is unlikely to be a negative decision.
News reports in France certainly indicate Team New Zealand are getting their frogs in a row.
French sailing magazine Voiles et Voiliers has reported designer Guillaume Verdier and his three regular "collaborators" Herve Penformis, Benjamin Muyl and Romaric Neyhousser will join the design team.
The four designers and engineers of the Verdier team have worked together on the Hydraplaneur of Yves Parlier, then on Multi 50 Actual of Yves Blevec.
The sailing team are also proceeding as if they would be on the startline in 2013 - this weekend Team NZ skipper Dean Barker and bowman Jeremy Lomas will get their first taste of multihull racing in the Extreme 40 regatta in Alermia, Spain. They will be joined by Team NZ grinder Winston McFarlane, who has sailed X40s before, and Australian Darren Bundock - a two-time Olympic medallist and multihull specialist.
The team's interest in catamarans follows publication of the America's Cup design rule which states the 34th America's Cup will be sailed in 22m catamarans.
The announcement of Auckland barrister and QC Jim Farmer, a long time Team New Zealand associate, as a member of America's Cup Race Management, is also seen as a significant sign for the team.
But doubts still linger over whether Team New Zealand can come up with the estimated $150 million to $185 million it will cost to mount a credible challenge.
In an interview with Yachting World this week, Sir Keith explained why Team Origin had flagged the 2013 event. With the compressed timeframe and lack of resources, one of Sir Keith's chief concerns was the expense.
"When you look at the commercial aspects, the costs are around 20 per cent more than those of AC32 in Valencia, but the cycle is over three years and not four. The result is that you have to raise 20 per cent more money in 25 per cent less time."
Sir Keith also claimed BMW Oracle's decision to stage the regatta in wing-masted catamarans put the challengers at a big disadvantage as few have sailed such boats.
"The odds are stacked very heavily against any challenger ... very few sailors have sailed it, very few designers have designed one and the cost in producing it is prohibitive."