The Age of Russia America’s Cup syndicate, although abandoned by its skipper, marketing director and American representative last week, has completed its boat and plans to fly it to San Diego between Nov. 23 and 26.
While the America’s Cup Organizing Committee seeks to determine which of two Russian syndicates is legitimate, completion of the carbon-fiber hull, deck and internal structure for the Age of Russia boat was confirmed by John Warren of England, European measurer for the International America’s Cup Class. He inspected the boat at the Energia space factory 40 miles outside Moscow.
“It will comply with the rule,” Warren told Stan Reid, chairman of the Challenger of Record Committee, in a letter faxed to San Diego Tuesday.
The stage of construction of the rival Red Star ’92 syndicate boat has not been determined by an independent inspector, and the critical question remains as to which syndicate represents the original entry filed by the Ocean Racing Club of Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). All entries must be sponsored by a recognized club.
Also, one V. Ivanov, deputy general director of the Agrochim company that paid the $175,000 entry fee for the original Red Star syndicate--not to be confused with Red Star ’92 --in 1988, wrote Reid that he had sold rights to the fee to the VEK company, Age of Russia’s new sponsor.
“Hence, the the above deposit is the property of the Age of Russia Syndicate,” Ivanov wrote.
The $150,000 bond portion of the entry fee is refundable when a boat shows up and races.
Warren said that Vladimir Koulbida, president of the Age of Russia syndicate, told him a Soviet Air Force plane would fly the boat to San Diego and that Koulbida appeared to have “strong government connections,” including the endorsement of Alexander Rutskoi, vice president of the Russian Federation under Boris Yeltsin.
Warren also said that Koulbida knew nothing of last week’s resignations of skipper Guram Biganishvili, marketing director Sergei Savchenko and U.S. representative Doug Smith until he told him. The trio resigned, Smith said, because of “internal politics,” but would not elaborate.
Smith said he received a fax from Koulbida Tuesday praising his work for the syndicate and stating that “I won’t accept your resignation.”
Koulbida told Warren he planned to go to San Diego next week.
Tom Ehman, executive vice president of the ACOC, was attempting to resolve the confusion in discussions with various international parties, including Kaleb Vapper, the Estonian TV newsman now representing the Red Star ’92 splinter group.
“We’re close to sorting it out,” an ACOC spokesperson said.