Convinced that the job of overseeing 21 potential foreign challenger syndicates has grown too large for one of them to handle, the America's Cup challengers voted Thursday to do away with a tradition.
During the first of two days of meetings at a downtown hotel, the challengers voted to form a five-member committee to represent their interests for the 1992 races. The decision ended the traditional practice of selecting a "challenger of record" to organize the trials and represent the group in dealings with sponsors, television networks, the defenders' group and the host yacht club.
"The America's Cup has become too great for all the responsibility to be on one yacht club," said Valdemar Bandolowski, the director of the Danish syndicate and chairman of the meeting.
Named to the committee were Syd Fischer of the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron of Australia, Gabriele Rafanelli of the Compagnia Della Vela of Italy, Kaoru Ogimi of the Nippon Ocean Racing Club of Japan, Andrew Johns of the Mercury Bay Boating Club of New Zealand and Tomas Wallin of the Stenungsbaden Yacht Club of Sweden.
Bandolowski, who said he declined a committee position because of time constraints, said one of the committee's first orders of business will be to select an executive director and chairman. Stan Reid and Ernie Taylor, two Australians involved in the America's Cup races in Fremantle in 1987, will be interviewed. Both attended Thursday's meeting.
The group also discussed concerns over the potential cost of dock space in San Diego, which Bandolowski said syndicates have estimated could cost between $15,000 and $25,000 a month. That could force some to cut back on the time they spend in San Diego and reduce the potential economic benefit to the city, Bandolowski said.
Bandolowski said the challengers are hoping the San Diego Unified Port District will aid the syndicates by offering free or low-rent waterfront space.
In other business, the group:
--agreed to a 14-day extension of the original May 26 deadline, to midnight June 9, for the Lenningrad Yacht Club to submit its $25,000 entry fee to the America's Cup Organizing Committee. The San Diego Yacht Club, representing the defender interests, previously agreed to the extension.
--rejected late entry attempts from a club in Algeria and the Dockers Point Yacht Club of New Zealand.
--voted to require challenger syndicates to post a $150,000 performance bond by Sept. 3 as further indication of their seriousness. Bandolowski said he expects a half dozen or more of the original groups might drop out before racing begins in January 1992.
--agreed to the concept of random testing of challenger crews for performance enhancing drugs.
--decided to continue discussion, to a November meeting in Spain, on the format for the challenger races. The races, to be held from mid-January to late April or early May of 1992, will be used to select a challenger representative in a best-of-seven final against a boat to be selected in a separate set of trials by the defenders' group.