Tuesday, February 2, 1999

America’s Cup
entry racing after
state money

Supporters tell legislators
that a win could pay off big
for Hawaii tourism

By Russ Lynch


New Zealand expects to get $1 billion in revenues by hosting the America's Cup international yacht racing series that starts in October and that sort of money could come to Hawaii four years later, supporters of the Waikiki Yacht Club's entry told legislators today.

Hawaii's entry, now being built at the Barbers Point harbor, has a chance of winning, the supporters said, and if it does the next international series will be held in Hawaii in 2004.

But first, the Hawaii syndicate needs a lot of money, about $20 million, according to supporters who testified before the House Tourism Committee this morning.

The first of two Hawaii boats, called Abracadabra 2000, is being built thanks to major funding by Birmingham, Ala.-based HealthSouth Corp.

But the yacht club supporters are seeking an unspecified appropriation from the state's general fund to help finance the completion of the boat and training and trial sailings in Hawaii waters.

The state Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism testified that the government's finances are too tight for it to support any spending on such a project. However, DBEDT officials said the state is already supporting the Aloha Racing Foundation, builders and operators of the boat.

DBEDT provided an unused state warehouse at Barbers Point for the construction of the Abracadabra 2000, set to launch this spring, and a second back-up boat to follow.

The department also gave the designers access to the state's supercomputer at the High Technology Development Corp. facilities on Maui.

Susan Harper, construction administrator for Aloha Racing, said the group will spend $4 million in Hawaii while it builds the boats and trains the crews.

Sailing can be a real revenue producer for Hawaii, not just in visitors and crews here for local races but also in international publicity that attracts tourists, she said.

Skipper John Kolius has won many international races and he and his crew have a good shot at winning the America's Cup, yachtsman Michael J. Welsh testified.

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