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'The Americans' Calling for Dollars : Bid for America's Cup Goes Public With Money Appeal

April 04, 1986|RICH ROBERTS | Times Staff Writer

With time and money short, five of the United States' six America's Cup syndicates have joined forces in a fund-raising effort.

Meanwhile, it appeared that two of the 14 syndicates challenging Australia--True North of Canada and Challenger Francais of France--would drop out because of a lack of money.

The joint project was organized at a meeting in Newport Beach last week and will have its headquarters in San Francisco under the common title, "The Americans." Syndicates involved are Eagle, Newport Beach; Stars and Stripes, San Diego; Golden Gate Challenge, San Francisco; Heart of America, Chicago; and Courageous, New York.

The chairman is Bob Scott, who is the head of Golden Gate.

"Up until 1983 the America's Cup was an elitist, East Coast event," Scott said. "Then the Australians spent $2 1/2 million to build a boat, and now we have to go halfway around the world to get it back. We're trying to get the message across to the entire country."

The operation will be separate from their individual fund-raising efforts and geared toward an Olympic-style public appeal, with all sharing equally in contributions and expenses.

The only syndicate not involved is the New York Yacht Club's America II program, which appears to be the most successful in raising funds: about $9 million toward its goal of $12.3 million. Dennis Conner's Stars and Stripes group has raised about $8 million toward a needed $15 million.

The Eagle syndicate will launch its campaign boat at Newport Beach Sunday, having raised $5.3 million of its $8.5-million budget.

Gary Thomson, Eagle president, said: "I think we're in pretty good shape, relative to the others, but it's tough. All the syndicates need money.

"Getting our boat in the water is going to help. It's amazing how interest is going up."

Tom Ehman, executive director of America II, said his syndicate was not being uncooperative, necessarily.

"We're all competitors, but we're all trying to bring the Cup back to the States," Ehman said by phone from New York. "We haven't had a chance to evaluate it. We all need to raise more money, but if it doesn't work you're saddled with a lot of expenses."

Ehman estimated that the overhead and operating costs of the group would be $25,000 to $30,000 per month.

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