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canfieldteamshot sThe Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron (RNZYS) has officially accepted Long Beach Yacht Club’s (LBYC) America’s Cup Challenge: Stars & Stripes Team USA. The group is the fifth challenger for the 36th America’s Cup presented by Prada.

This Challenge was co-founded by Mike Buckley and Taylor Canfield after the team’s impressive win at the 2018 Long Beach Congressional Cup, where they defeated New York Yacht Club’s American Magic.

LBYC Commodore Bill Durant said, “We have always considered Congressional Cup the road to America’s Cup and we are excited to be on this road with Taylor, Mike and the Stars & Stripes team. These are exciting times for Long Beach and our club members.” Past Congressional Cup winners Dennis Conner, Bill Ficker, Ted Turner, Dean Barker, Ken Read, Rod Davis, Peter Gilmour, Chris Dickson, Terry Hutchinson, Gavin Brady, Francesco Bruni and Chris Law have all gone on to sail at the America’s Cup Challenge, Durant added.

The name Stars & Stripes USA is a tribute to the iconic ‘Stars & Stripes’ teams who defined all-American, America’s Cup racing for decades. Mr. America’s Cup himself, Dennis Conner, has given a thumbs up to use of the name and the team’s all-American goals. Four-time Congressional Cup winner Taylor Canfield said, “Long Beach Yacht Club was a natural partner for our Challenge. We have been speaking with them since the last Congressional Cup and are thrilled to have a West Coast club that is as passionate about growing the grassroots of sailing as we are.”

Competitors for the 36th America’s Cup include the defender — Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron, Emirates Team New Zealand — and the current five challengers: the Challenger of Record, Italy’s Circolo Della Vela Sicilia, Luna Rossa; along with New York Yacht Club’s American Magic; Royal Yacht Squadron’s INEOS (a chemicals and manufacturing company) Team UK with Sir Ben Ainslie; and Royal Malta Yacht Club’s Malta Altus (a real estate company); and Long Beach's Stars & Stripes USA. The 122 square miles that make up Malta will make them the smallest country to compete in any America’s Cup.

Stars & Stripes USA co-team founder Mike Buckley, who served as Canfield’s tactician said, “Our goal is to win the America's Cup by building an inclusive and authentic all-American team that reignites American sailing.”

The team management is made up of experienced maritime leaders that all have strong competitive sailing backgrounds.

Chief Executive Officer Justin Shaffer brings a background that includes racing professionally in the TP52 circuit as well as a career as an entrepreneur, most notably with Major League Baseball and Facebook.

Chief Operating Officer Tod Reynolds has a significant amount of management and logistical experience after running the 2016 Louis Vuitton America’s Cup World Series Chicago event.

Design team leader JB Braun brings 20 years of winning America’s Cup experience to the team, most recently working with Oracle Team USA in 2013 and 2017.

The team accelerated their design process by purchasing a design package from Emirates Team New Zealand. Stars & Stripes's AC75 is currently under construction at a Holland, Mich., boat building facility. Holland is home to many historic American builders. The current funding has come from a number of founding patrons from coast-to-coast.

More details, including training venue and additional team members, will be released in early- 2019 at a live-streamed event to launch the campaign.