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By Alexander Smith
LONDON, Dec 12 (Reuters) - Stars & Stripes Team USA has been accepted by holders Emirates Team New Zealand and the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron as the fifth challenger for the 36th America’s Cup, which will take place in Auckland in 2021.
The team was co-founded by sailors Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield and represents the first all-American team in more than 15 years to compete for the oldest trophy in international sport, Long Beach Yacht Club said in an emailed statement.
“Our name is a nod to Dennis Conner’s ‘Stars & Stripes’ campaigns that defined all-American America’s Cup racing for decades. We are the next generation,” Buckley said.
The America’s Cup, which is being sponsored by Italian fashion house Prada and is often referred to as the “Auld Mug”, was first raced for off the south coast of England in 1851 when it was won by the schooner America.
It has been in American trophy cabinets for many of the intervening years, but was lost in 2017 by Larry Ellison’s Oracle Team USA who were comprehensively beaten by the New Zealanders.
The new U.S. challenger will join Luna Rossa from Italy, American Magic from the United States, Malta Altus Challenge and INEOS Team UK in the quest to take on Emirates Team New Zealand.
Stars & Stripes has enlisted 29-year-old Canfield, who it says has been ranked the number one match racer in the world for three of the past five years.
“This will be a defining moment for American sailing... It has been my professional goal to compete in the America’s Cup my whole life and I am confident we will be very competitive in Auckland,” Canfield said. (Reporting by Alexander Smith Editing by Peter Graff and Clare Fallon)