An ambitious Swiss bid to lift the biggest trophy in world yachting received a major boost on Tuesday when the backer of the Swiss Challenge America's Cup team announced a sponsorship deal with UBS.
Ernesto Bertarelli, the Genevan billionaire behind the project, said that the Swiss bank would be one of two main sponsors of Swiss Challenge. The boat, which will fly under the flag of the Genevan nautical society, is being entered for the 2003 America's Cup competition.
No details were disclosed as to the size of the UBS agreement, but the total budget for Swiss Challenge is estimated to be in the area of SFr 100 million.
Bertarelli is hoping to bring the America's Cup trophy to Europe for the first time in the competition's history. With this in mind he has already secured the services of New Zealand skipper Russell Coutts, who has won the last two America's Cup competitions.
To qualify for the two-boat final in 2003, Swiss Challenge must first win the Louis Vuitton preliminary competition which begins in October 2002.
swissinfo with agencies