America's Cup: Challengers to Oracle's crown announced

Story highlights

  • The six teams for 35th edition of America's Cup confirmed
  • Five teams will race for right to challenge reigning champions Oracle Team USA
  • American team pulled off stunning comeback in last year's race against Kiwi team
  • Teams from UK, Sweden, France, Italy and New Zealand among contenders

It produced one of the memorable sporting moments of 2013 and now the excitement is starting to brew all over again for America's Cup fans.

The first buoy of the 35th edition of sailing's most prestigious race was rounded on Thursday as the challengers to reigning champions Oracle Team USA were announced.

Five teams from Britain, Italy, Sweden, France and New Zealand will battle in out to determine who will race the U.S. team in 2017.

Oracle, skippered by Jimmy Spithill, pulled off one of sport's great comebacks last September when they overhauled a 1-8 deficit against the Emirates Team from New Zealand to eventually win 9-8.

Spithill is looking forward to see who his team will face.

"It's exciting to look at the roster of teams who are lining up against us," Spithill said on the competition's official website.

"We're facing five strong challengers who have a lot of resources, talent and experience.

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    "But our team is very competitive. We love challenges -- the bigger, the better. It's very easy to get motivated when you see what we're going to be facing."

    Among the teams looking to deny the U.S. team a third consecutive victory will be a crew led by Britain's Ben Ainslie.

    Ainslie, a four-time Olympic champion who played a key role in the Oracle team's victory last time around, will lead a team from Royal Yacht Squadron -- the club who originally awarded the trophy in 1851.

    "We are delighted that Royal Yacht Squadron Racing's challenge for the 35th America's Cup has been officially accepted," Ainslie said in a statement.

    "The America's Cup originates from the Squadron and it is our goal to return the Cup to where it belongs."

    Fellow Brit, Iain Percy will skipper Sweden's Artemis Racing team.

    Percy, a double Olympic champion, will be looking to honor the memory of his great friend and teammate Andrew "Bart" Simpson who was tragically killed when the Artemis boat capsized during training for last year's competition.

    New Zealand's Emirates Team will be hoping to bounce back from their catastrophic defeat in San Francisco Bay.

    "We see some formidable opposition taking shape in the 35th America's Cup and we have no illusions about the job ahead," skipper Dean Barker said in a statement.

    "We have been working quietly behind the scenes towards this day almost since the last day of the 34th America's Cup. Now the real work begins."

    Italy's Luna Rosa Challenge and Team France complete the line up.

    The five challengers will race at venues around the world next year and in 2016. The outcome of these races will decide a "top challenger" that will go forward to race the U.S. team in 2017 at a venue in either Bermuda or San Diego.

    Read more: Oracle Team USA wins America's Cup