A world-class sailing spectacular in Perth next year could kick-start Australia's hunt for the America's Cup, according to sports icon John Bertrand.
The two-time Olympian, who famously skippered Australia II to victory in the 1983 America's Cup to end 132 years of American supremacy, said he believed the nation would once again become a player in the sport's ultimate prize.
Bertrand, 63, made the call while in Perth yesterday to promote the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships, which will bring more than 1400 competitors from 80 nations to Fremantle in December next year.
The event, which is held every four years, will double as sailing's main qualifier for the London Olympics in 2012.
Australia has not challenged for the America's Cup since 1995 and Bertrand hinted the Perth championships could kick-start the interest needed to again tackle the sport's equivalent of Mt Everest.
"The America's Cup is still the most prestigious sporting event in the world," Bertrand said. "It supersedes Formula One in terms of pure prestige. It (our participation in the America's Cup) really gets down to entrepreneurs and very successful business people who have global ambitions and can see the event as giving them the entree on an international scale.
"The Perth 2011 (championships) is all part and parcel of that you might say, of the interest at a very high level. We're talking about the best of the best here coming from all around the world."
Bertrand could not hide his excitement at the imminent 33rd instalment of the America's Cup, which will start in Valencia, Spain, on Monday.
Swiss defender Alinghi and American challenger BMW Oracle will pit two space-age multi-hulled yachts against one another in a best-of-three series for the first time in the event's 159-year history.
The fragile-looking 90 foot vessels made from materials such as carbon fibre will be potentially capable of sailing at three times the speed of the wind.The America's Cup winner also endorsed Perth's emerging nations program, which will involve 11 participants from developing sailing countries such as India and Peru training in Perth this month.
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